Photo: J. Aurelia Fleck

The Coe Center was honored to host artist Marie Watt (Seneca Nation) on July 17, 2019. Watt’s focus while in Santa Fe was on the concept of “mother” and all its varied, complex connotations. This event, in collaboration with the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (IAIA-MoCNA) as part of their Social Engagement Art Residency program, offered the public a rare opportunity to share in the creation of a major art project. Watt asked participants to write the word “mother” in their own hand and then invited them to embroider their own hand-written word as they wished. Watt’s intention is to ultimately include these individually embroidered pieces in one artwork.

Watt asked: How does a population unique to Santa Fe and New Mexico— Indigenous, Hispanic, Colonial, Multi-ethnic, and it’s UFO visitors (Unidentified Foreign Others)—free associate to the word MOTHER? In knowing what the word “mother” means to us as a collective of companions’ species, then we are positioned to nurture what is “mother-like” within in us and by extension in the natural environment. This is an ecosystem that is in peril and requires collective stewardship to create positive and ecosystem affirming choices.

Marie Watt is an internationally renowned multidisciplinary artist. Her work draws from history, biography, Iroquois proto-feminism, and Indigenous principles, and addresses “the interaction of the arc of history with the intimacy of memory.” Her larger works are created collaboratively, notably through sewing circles, public events in which anyone with time and interest can participate, resulting in moments of shared experiences, stories and creation.