Talks, Tours, and Tech: Natani Notah


Today marks the end of my first week at the International Sculpture Center’s (ISC) residency at Grounds for Sculpture (GFS). Before my plane even landed I felt extremely welcomed by everyone involved. We officially started the week by giving artist talks to ISC and GFS staff, followed by tours of the grounds and studios. Then fellow artist in resident, Layo Bright and I set up our work stations in the MEB Tech Workshop, which will serve as our studio for the remainder of our time here.

In general my work explores contemporary Native American identity through the lens of Diné (Navajo) womanhood. During this residency I will continue to explore this through a couple of projects, the first being one that transforms used metal mixing bowls into faux pottery. In the studio I started working on this proposed project by layering gesso onto this metal substrate. I then began to peel and carve away certain parts to expose the silver underneath and leave other parts to make various marks on. Ultimately I am interested in drawing connections between the aesthetics of Southwestern pottery and Diné silversmithing, while critiquing the cultural appropriation and consumption of it by non-Native people and artists alike.

In preparation for upcoming staff and guest visits I have continued to build up these surfaces with the goal of creating a hybrid vessel that further raises questions about Western and Native American conceptions of tradition and value.

While working with these materials, something that has surprised me is how much I can manipulate the gesso once it has dried onto the bowl. I do this by not only carving away parts, but also filing and sanding down the edges to create smooth lines of transition. In the coming weeks, I am excited to push this work even further by incorporating bright colors and the use of text to accompany designs that are derived from my research.

By Natani Notah

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