In shamanic ceremonies performed by the Oglala Sioux tribe, medicine men conjure up spirits said to manifest themselves as small, flickering lights, appearing much like fireflies. Through this practice, it is thought, the present world makes contact with the past, as well as the future.
Wayne Sumstine strives to do something similar with his art. His most intriguing works are made using transparent layers of paint on plexiglass panels, with flashing electrical lights mounted inside the frame. As he explains in his artist's statement, "The flickering fragments ... are intended to form a staging area ... for launching the figures into animated buoyancy while at the same time suspending them in emblematic death. The past and the future are intimately with us." Pretty deep, right?
Other works use spaghetti or colored string lights, some of which extend off the edge of the artwork and, according to Sumstine, allow the artist's spirit to escape from the finished piece. This feature is inspired by Navajo weavers, who often run a string of thread called a "spirit line" to the edge of each weaving to prevent their soul from becoming entangled in their creation.
Combining Native American spirituality with scientific speculations about string theory and space-time, the ideas behind Sumstine's art can get pretty complex. "I believe," he says, "that the relationship between modern science and Native American spirit practices has in many ways already fused. ... Many in the scientific community are amazed to discover what the ancients seem to have known all along, and many shamanic practitioners seem to be amazed that it took scientists so long to get it. What art does in this process is express the forces of healing and change in an intuitive way. And hopefully in an aesthetic way."
You might have to experience Sumstine's work to get it. His paintings will be on display from Tuesday, Sept. 26, through early November. --A.M.
Patricide, fratricide, homicide, suicide ... femicide? That's right, there's a seemingly new, scary word out there for killing--specifically, for the systematic killing of women.
One of the most well-known sites for femicide is Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where, during the last 13 years, more than 400 young women have been tortured, raped and killed. These murders are repeatedly ignored by the Mexican police and government, despite efforts by family members and activists to encourage investigation.
What are the causes of this femicide? Well, the hatred of women, for one. But what are the root causes? On the Edge: The Femicide in Ciudad Juarez, a brand-new documentary by Steev Hise, explores the social, cultural and economic factors behind the situation. The movie shows that the Ciudad Juarez killings aren't just isolated incidents in a (not-so) far-off city--they're largely the result of an international political and economic phenomenon: namely, globalization.
"The connection between globalization and femicide is complex," says Mary Jo Ghory, a community activist with Voices of Opposition, a local group taking a stand against war, racism and oppression. "Ciudad Juarez is one of those border towns that U.S. corporations have filled with maquiladoras (factories where goods can be produced cheaply). Now corporations are finding it even cheaper to produce goods in China, so the jobs in Mexico are fewer. The jobs are also being given to women instead of men, so there is resentment from unemployed men."
There's a lot more to it, but you'll have to see On the Edge to get the whole picture. Voices of Opposition, which hosts a film and lecture series every Monday, will offer the film for free, and the filmmaker himself--plus two UA professors who appear in the film--will lead a post-screening discussion. Call 622-6419 or visit voicesofopposition.org for more information. --A.M.
Got land? If you do, it's bound to be affected by wind, rain, sun, soil type and your own aspirations. With permaculture, you can design a plan for your plot considering each of these factors, all while keeping the environment's best interest in mind.
Don't know exactly what permaculture is? Then you should attend DAWN SouthWest's Permaculture Open House, where you can get a hands-on introduction to all the basics--earth plasters, desert gardening, water harvesting, land restoration and more. See demonstrations and immerse yourself in mud as you work with cob, adobe and straw bales to build noninvasive structures, and learn how to create a garden full of delicious and desert-friendly foods.
"The key word here is sustainability," says DAWN SouthWest owner Joelee Joyce. "It's about making our land and our lives more healthy." Plus, knowing permaculture is easy on the wallet and good for self-empowerment: "People tend to want to do expensive and complicated landscaping, when in reality, they can do it all themselves!"
In addition to building demonstrations and activities, the open house will feature a potluck and bake-off. Just bring a dish to cook or some produce from your own garden, and DAWN SouthWest will fire up their bread and solar ovens to make a feast for all participants.
"It's a social event as well as a way for people to get their hands in the mud," Joyce concludes. "I think it will be a lot of fun."
The event is free, and registration is required. Don't forget to wear something you're not afraid to get very, very dirty. Call 624-1673 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. --A.M.
All-you-can-eat buffets are awesome. But too many of them can lead to diabetes, obesity or--at the very least--heartburn.
All-you-can-dance buffets, on the other hand, are very healthy. And this weekend, instead of stuffing your face, you can get active and enjoy a smorgasbord of musical entertainment at the ZUZI! Theater's dance version of a musician's jam session.
"Like musicians," says dance buffet director Guy "Josh" Josserand III, "(dance jam) dancers bring whatever skills they have and mold them together into a unified work for the thrill of the process rather than for an audience. Of course, an audience can be equally thrilled."
Dancers of all different tastes can find what they like, with three dance studios and a café full of live music. Those with a lot of energy and enthusiasm can check out the main studio, where a DJ will spin a "mix and match for dance maniacs," while the back studio will feature hip-hop and pop music for the younger crowd. Or if you're more into relaxation, you can head to the Chill Room for some gentle music conducive to contact improvisation, yoga and physio-ball therapeutics. Finally, you can get drinks and desserts in the ZUZI! Café, where Jackie Hesford, Lori Freasdorf and Phil Franchine will sing live jazz and folk.
For those of you who don't feel like you can dance--that's OK! "Dancers shouldn't be deterred if they feel untrained or inexperienced," Josserand insists. "A few minutes of watching will assure you that you can fit in. Unlike in music, if you 'play a wrong note,' no one else is disturbed."
Admission is $7 for adults and $2 for kids. Shoes are optional. --A.M.