Mixed Blessings “Landing”

Lacey DeAngelis

Is land a geographic term that we use to describe the grass, soil, and other components on top of the Earth that isn’t covered with water? In literal terms, yes, but in Chapter three of Mixed Blessings Lucy Lippard describes the term “landing” in a much deeply thought out way. She states that, “the landing process is not always a matter of geographical turf, nor of coming to rest; it can be equally a process of change, of being sent away or of ‘taking off’ on a quest for home that may never be satisfied.” (p.105) Therefore, the author is saying that landing is not only a term to describe something stopping; it is a term in the art world and in many cultures that can represent their lost cultural history, including the land they once called home. For example, the Lippard talks about Native Americans and how landing is “a concept fraught with ambivalence.” (p.105) Many Native Americans have trouble finding their “home lands”, because they live in two places at a time. They go from living on reservations to living back in the cities. Therefore, the Native Americans are forced to reinvent themselves to terms “that history has inserted between their loss and their roots.” (p.106) This reinvention is reflected through many of Native American artworks, including Jean LaMarr’s, They’re Going to Dump It Where?!? LaMarr shows the two sides of a contemporary Paiute woman, having her wear flowers on her shawl to represent the traditional naming of woman after flowers, but also a modern day dress and sunglasses. The background of the monoprint is “dotted with ancient petroglyphs… the prints refer to the destruction of Indian lands and sacred sites in favor of lucrative bud ultimately destructive technology.” (p.107) The destructive technology refers to the reflection on the sunglasses, which is a nuclear power plant on sacred land in California named Diablo Canyon getting struck by lightning.

When I saw this photo and read more about the cultural land the artwork comes from, I wanted to look up more to learn about this artist. I had never heard of LaMarr and really liked how she incorporated her heritage and the lost of her people’s sacred land in her artwork. So, I decided to Google her. Jean Lamarr is a female, Paiute and Pit River artist. As a child, she grew up in a town that was racist and didn’t have much of cultural history incorporated in their activities. I found an interview of Lamarr on www.culturalsurvival.org that stated that her school had her paint “a mural of Sir Francis Drake christening the Indians, the Indians bowing down to him.” This may be one reason why Lamarr’s work focuses on her heritage. She also stated that she likes to do murals and print-making, because these types of art can be seen by communities, giving people insight about the indigenous people that have live on that land for a long period of time and how through their homeland has became destroyed by certain types technology. Lamarr makes her artwork more for the “landing” aspect, showing the change of her cultural people and their homeland.

In chapter three of Mixed Blessings, Lippard also mentions the relationship between land and religions. Many religions have traveled all across the oceans to make many religions international. Lippard states, “even those religious that have been carried across oceans and around the world bear the imprint of their original places- not necessarily in traceable iconography, but in the submerged rhythms and patterns that served the land itself and the sprits that inhabit it.” (p.108) This is can be seen in many religions including Christianity and Islam. These two religions are different, but are religions that have formed in different parts of the world, but can be seen today living on the same land as each other. Each religion and cultural have transformed somewhat over time, with social equalities, but have kept their traditional beliefs within the changing societies. I found it interesting to hear about the challenges and decisions that people within these religions go through to represent their cultural beliefs wherever they live.

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4 Responses to Mixed Blessings “Landing”

  1. Jayme Walker

    Lacey, your post about “Landing” is great and I honestly do not think I could have summed it up any better. The quote you used from Mixed Blessings, “the landing process is not always a matter of geographical turf, nor of coming to rest; it can be equally a process of change, of being sent away or of ‘taking off’ on a quest for home that may never be satisfied.” (p.105) is one that I had highlighted in my book while reading. While reading Lippard’s example about landing about Native American’s I remembered back to my first year experience class, Narratives of Identity, where we focused a lot on the identities of Native American’s and even visited the National Museum of the American Indian. I remember looking at the beautiful art at the museum, however, with Lippard’s descriptions and connections to her ideas about landing, I am able to appreciate the art more and most importantly, I am able to understand how their art connects with their identity and the idea of landing.

    The discussion of the relationship between land and religion in chapter three of mixed blessings supplemented our self-portrait projects from class last Tuesday. Focusing specifically on the discussions about the Christian and Islamic religions, this chapter helped to explain a lot about how religions can influence art, all while connecting religion to the overall theory of “landing”. The section about Native American land being bulldozed and how the disruption of the Native American’s holy land is detrimental to their religion because unlike a church, synagogue, or temple, sacred land cannot be replicated or replaced opened my eyes to help me look deeper into the art of Native American’s and to see how this seizing of their sacred land could influence their artwork. This section also made me wonder about other religious artwork and how there are so many different factors that could influence or affect an artist’s art.

    The artist I chose to Google search was Frank Bigbear Jr, a Native American artist from White Earth, Minnesota. His art is comprised mostly of collages that reflect his family and cultural identity as a Native American, Native American’s role in the modern society, and the integration between Native American heritage and popular culture today. I really enjoyed looking at a few of Bigbear’s pieces and especially liked his use of color and collages. I will post a link of a particular piece that I really enjoyed below.

    http://plainsart.org/collections/frank-big-bear-jr/bigbear-2/

  2. Austin Smith says:

    While reading Laceys blog about the chapter “Landing” from Mixed blessing, I was captured by the quote she had put up from the book. It said, “the landing process is not always a matter of geographical turf, nor of coming to rest; it can be equally a process of change, of being sent away or of ‘taking off’ on a quest for home that may never be satisfied.” (p.105) Lacey took this quote into one direction, but being a member of Air Force ROTC, I naturally connected the Landing process to flying a plane. Landing in the authors terms in more of an idea that one is looking deeply in themselves to find what is right or true. I imagined myself trying to understand something complicated. While I was thinking analytically I imagined my self taking off in a plane. This was a journey I was embarking on to see if I could come to a resoning in which terms I would eventually land with an answer. I imagine an artist starts with a purpose or some kind of meaning, and while on that journey to showing it on paper they are flying high until they feel they have achieved their goal in which case they safely land. For Clifford Jackson it was a journey to find where he belonged. He said, ” One must belong before one may then not belong. I belong here in Paris. I am able to realize myself here. I am no expatriate.” This is a very strong quote for it stands for what this man of experience stands for. Experience is key to Landing because it is what makes up all believe in what we believe in, it is what makes up fight for what we think is right. All resistance artists have experienced something that stirred or moved them and they then can express it with emotion that cannot be replicated. That is what Landing is to me.

  3. Sarah Rose

    I completely agree with my group members in the idea that landing, in terms of art, is much more complicated than just physical geographic earth. I feel it is a struggle one has with his/her own world and finding his/her true domicile. One of the main examples in the book is Native Americans and the struggle they face finding where they belong, “Individual motives for leaving the reservation, and returning, can be influenced and constrained by a history of genocide, racism, political and economic disenfranchisement,” (105-106).

    The artist I chose to look up was Frank Big Bear Jr. I chose to research him because his piece Red Boy really interested me. The drawing is very busy with many images in it and it looks exciting and makes me feel energetic, although in color it is even more amazing. Big Bear lived on White Earth Reservation in Minnesota until he was 15, he then moved to Minneapolis (114). He studied art in high school and is mostly self-taught. Many of his best known pieces are similar to the piece Red Boy, in the book. They are very colorful collages that represent his history as well as his present struggles being a Native American. “So while his work exhibits a rejection of the “traditional” representation of Indians, it is clearly situated in his ties to membership in the Chippewa community,” (Pencil Drawings). One of his pieces, White Earth, is an image of what he viewed his childhood home as. He uses this piece to sum up his childhood and the culture he grew up in, and then left, “In the drawing White Earth, the place of Big Bear’s birth, the past, present, and future all dissolve together into a single moment, as if the earth itself is dreaming all it had seen and experienced,” (Ratzloff). I feel like this ties in with the chapter very well, as his work is all a struggle about his identity and where he belongs, as well as his community.

    Work Cited

    “Pencil Drawings.” Plains Art Museum, 2011. Web. 14 Feb 2011.
    http://plainsart.org/collections/tag/pencil-drawings/

    Ratzloff, John . “Frank Big Bear.” Bockley Gallery, 2011. Web. 14 Feb 2011.
    http://www.bockleygallery.com/css/LwH_html/FB.html

  4. Professor Scott says:

    I’m delighted to see such engaged participation by everyone in the group. Very good. Keep up the good work!

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