The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Michael Namingha’s (Tewa/Hopi) Altered Landscape series are abstract, photography-based works that juxtapose geometric shapes in bright neon colors against black-and-white aerial landscapes from the Four Corners region. The compositions are mounted to shaped plexiglass, creating the illusion of three-dimensional works.
Altered Landscapes addresses the environmental impact of the oil industry around New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon, a national historic park sacred to the ancestral Puebloans; and the Black Place, Navajo Nation’s Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness. More than 20,000 oil and gas wells are in operation on federally leased land across the 7,500 square miles large San Juan Basin. While 316,000 acres within a 10-mile radius around Chaco Canyon are protected from oil, gas and other mineral extraction, an overground pipeline runs through the Black Place. While the risks of methane waste and related pollution have not been extensively studied, they include health conditions such as respiratory ailments. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, these issues are hitting Indigenous communities particularly hard. While other artists deal with these themes head-on, Namingha’s work is in contrast non-confrontational, even quiet, inviting viewers to contemplate the devastating effects of the oil and gas industries on ancestral lands.
Support for this exhibition is provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Texas Commission on the Arts, the El Paso Museum of Art Foundation and the City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department.