First American Art Magazine No. 22, Spring 2019 - Page 103

MEMORIAL Through her art, Shan made history and information accessible to people who know little about laws, or about our unique need for and rela- tionship to complex substantive legal policies. The “wounds inflicted by institu- tionalized racism,” cannot heal, Shan once said, “until we are perceived as human beings” rather than “archae- ological artifacts.” The images and voices, of Shan and other artists, have contributed significantly to efforts at instituting and enforcing US policies that address repatriation and other cultural imperatives. Defending the Sacred is Shan’s homage to the Standing Rock resis- tance to the pipeline that threatens L akota lands and water. Her multimedia construction is a brief- case-shaped basket in the Cherokee “water” design, interwoven with images and texts of treaties, Lakota prayers, a prayer fan, and the Oceti Sakowin camp, topped by an antler handle for the “strength of our resolve.” Comparisons between the pipeline and a snake of pure greed captured the imagination of many, including Shan. She wove a snake over pipeline propaganda on the outside of her briefcase—a structure she chose because the battleground is the judicial system, where the arduous case has far outlasted the ten-month standoff. Not only did Shan stand up to give her creativity and voice, she also donated all proceeds to the Standing Rock Sioux legal fund—another example of why Shan is respected, admired, and beloved. I miss our inspiring, funny, and always good talks about art, shows, show-offs, justice, spirits, signs, living beings, connectedness, excellence, health, death, dying, renewal, living, and love. I join all with love of Shan Goshorn. Through her good works, good vision, and good words, we will continue to find answers, respect the unanswerable, and fill the silence left by our sacrificing ancestors. —Suzan Shown Harjo SNOWFLAKE FLOWER December 26, 1931–November 23, 2018 I WRITE ON BEHALF of Sn ow f l a ke F l owe r (Stephanie C. Rhoades), and for our family, friends, and acquaintances. On November 23, 2018, we lost a beloved mom, sister, great-great- grandmother, auntie, friend, and an all-around wonderful person. Born on December 26, 1931, she was from the village of Ko-tyit-i (Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico). Most people knew her as Snowflake Flower. I always knew her as Mom and I will focus on how I knew her, as her son, and the life she lived and enjoyed. The first and only college graduate of her siblings, Snowflake Flower attained her bachelor of arts degree at the University of Albuquerque when she was 41 to 42 years old. Soon after, she decided to come back home to Ko-tyit-i to start a new life as an artist. By this time, her sisters Ada Suina and Martha Arquero were well into the art of creating storyteller figurines, which depict children climbing on male or female storytellers and are well-known here in the Southwest. She decided to do the same and help keep the genre alive. At first, it was hard learning the methods of mixing clay and firing the pieces outdoors. I remember her frustration at pieces exploding in the firings, or paint getting burnt off from too much heat. But she was persistent in wanting to learn. It took her several years to finally get comfortable enough with the process to be satisfied with her work. Until her passing, she had made a good name for herself as an artist—winning numerous awards, getting her name published in books, and having pieces exhibited in museum collections. Snowflake Flower’s favorite moments were when her collectors would come to visit. She got excited telling people the stories behind her pieces. During one of these stories, she was asked why she painted a feather on her work. She would tell people it was a prayer feather for a daughter, Patricia Ann Loretto (“Happy”), above Snowflake Flower and her artwork. Image courtesy of her family. who had gone through a very bad cesarean section and ended up in a coma for three weeks. She did recover but was never the same. Patricia was basically bedridden for 21 years until she passed. The feather was in remembrance of her, and the love and prayers my mom had for her daughter every time she made a clay piece. Mom always enjoyed her work. It was that connection to the past, as well as a preservation of the future. Some of her favorite pieces were the coyotes, but she just really loved making her art pieces. I guess that’s what makes a great artist—not hating the pieces you create, but loving what you do. That’s the way I saw her, loving her work and singing her old Native songs. She would sit there and sing to her pieces with complete passion. Today (December 26, 2018), Snowflake Flower would be celebrating her 87th birthday. Instead, we are here remembering her, as a big storm of snow- flakes comes falling to the ground. She will always be remembered through the art she created, the love she so willingly and freely gave, and, of course, the snow- flakes that surround us, just like they do today. We will miss you, Mom. We will always remember you and cherish the love you gave us. —Jonathan Loretto SPRING 2019 | 101