Tucson and New York-based architects Aranda\Lasch (Ben Aranda and Chris Lasch) and Tohono O’odham basket weaver Terrol Dew Johnson will present Meeting the Clouds Halfway In MOCA’s Great Hall, featuring experiments blending traditional craft with contemporary design. Ranging from basketry to architecture, what is on display explores the desert surrounding Tucson as a place of inspiration, opportunity, and collaboration. Guest curated by Alexandra Cunningham Cameron, the exhibition is the result of a ten-year conversation about reimagining traditional forms of making to satisfy the contemporary world. Based on a shared interest in the study and preservation of traditional Native American practices and their bearing on modern life, the works are made from the four natural materials of the desert: rock, copper, wood, and grass. Multiple endeavors related to these substances will be arrayed, variously grouped and scattered, hanging from the ceiling, displayed on the wall, and arranged on tables, centered around an architecturally scaled dome structure. The ongoing cross-cultural exchange and conversation with Johnson examines the ways that pattern, rhythm, ritual, and memory influence the design process, and how centuries-old Tohono O’odham practices can have a direct bearing on the present. A central ambition of the exhibition is an increased awareness of Tohono O’odham artistic traditions, the culture from which they spring, and their enduring resonance. Principal aspects of this will be a basket-weaving workshop, educational programming, and proposals for sustainable housing in tribal communities, all organized in partnership with Tohono O’odham Community Action (TOCA). Allegorically and materially, this exhibition highlights the holistic nature of Aranda\Lasch and Johnson’s extensive, deeply thought-out engagement with architecture and the world we inhabit.
Alexandra Cunningham Cameron
Aranda\Lasch designs buildings, installations, and furniture through a deep investigation of structure and materials. Recognition includes the United States Artists Award, Young Architects Award, Design Vanguard Award, AD Innovators, and the Architectural League Emerging Voices Award. Their early projects are the subject of the book, Tooling. Aranda\Lasch has exhibited internationally in galleries, museums, design fairs and biennials. Current building projects include stores in Miami, an outdoor theater in Gabon, and an Art Park in Bali. Aranda\Lasch continually develop furniture products and are represented by Gallery ALL. Their work is part of the permanent collection of the MoMA in New York.
Terrol Dew Johnson
Terrol Dew Johnson (Tohono O’odham, b. 1973) is a community leader, nationally recognized advocate for Native communities and renowned artist. In 1996, Johnson co-founded Tohono O’odham Community Action (TOCA), a grassroots community organization dedicated to creating positive programs based in the O’odham Himdag–the Desert People’s Way. In 2002, Johnson and TOCA Co-Director Tristan Reader were recognized as one of the nation’s top leadership teams when they received the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World Award. Johnson’s collaborations range from museum exhibitions to documentaries and book publications. In October 1999, Johnson was named one of “America’s top ten young community leaders” by the Do Something Foundation.
In 2009-10, Johnson walked from Maine to Arizona as a part of “The Walk Home: A Journey to Native Wellness,” bringing awareness to the crisis of Diabetes in Native communities and highlighting the ways in which communities have the capacity to create wellness by drawing upon their rich cultural traditions.
As an artist, Johnson began learning to weave baskets in school when he was just ten years old. He is now recognized as one of the top Native American basketweavers in the U.S. He has won top honors at such shows as Santa Fe Indian Market, O’odham Tash, the Heard Museum Fair and the Southwest Indian Art Fair. His work is in the permanent collections of museums such as the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Heard Museum. Today, Johnson combines basketry with other media such as bronze castings and gourds.
Didactic & Map
Images by Maya Heilman-Hall