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Michael Namingha: Altered Landscapes
February 3, 2021 - May 15, 2021
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 address the environmental impact of the gas and oil industry: drilling stations, refineries, gas plants, fracking platforms, pipelines, and chemical storage are all situated in a drilling site around Chaco Canyon, a national historic park sacred to the ancestral Puebloans. More than 40,000 wells are in operation on federally leased land across the 7,500 square miles large San Juan Basin. While 34,0000 acres of the Black Place and nearby Chaco are protected from drilling and fracking, an overground pipeline runs through the Black Place. An estimated 140,000 New Mexicans live within half a mile of a drilling site. 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.