Mapping Water, as its name implies, explores the concept of heading into uncharted territory. How do you create a memoir of a moving, living being—or manifest the unconscious process of an artist? How do you map water?
Rather than reiterating the events of a life or merely reproducing images of the artist’s work, Mapping Water is a view into Judy Tuwaletstiwa’s mind, thoughts, and art; expressed in a complex series of sections. The first section, for example, begins with the definition of the word “genesis”—combined with small paintings that relate (and don’t relate) to various parts of the text, evoking thoughts on the “genesis” of ideas. Subsequent sections continue this exploration with content that varies from an iconic photograph from the Holocaust to a series of images of a dead crow that Judy dissected and reassembled with stunning and deeply thoughtful results. Throughout the book are Judy’s own words—haunting and lyrical—that unify all of this material into a provocative and very unique project.
About the Artist
Judy Tuwaletstiwa’s art combines paint and canvas with sand, clay, fiber and sticks, materials that speak of the high desert of Black Mesa in Northern Arizona where she lived for several years on the Hopi reservation. She writes, “This desert landscape opens the unconscious to me. In my work, whether writing or painting, I seek a language that embodies the elusive and mysterious images that resonate from the deep strata of the unknown.” In addition to Tuwaletstiwa’s international reputation as a painter, she is the recipient of a Lannan Foundation Literary Residency in Marfa, Texas for The Canyon Poem, a very limited edition book published in 1999. This publication examined the cycle of a year in sixty-one plates of image and text inspired by rafting down the Grand Canyon’s Colorado River. The Canyon Poem is in the collections of rare book libraries throughout the country, including those of Yale, Columbia, Harvard and UC Berkeley.