Seed Ofrendas for Arvin’s Wildflowers. Part 2

On August 14, Hataya and Michelle packed up our seed Ofrendas and made the drive to Arvin, Ca. We were headed to The Cross, a landmark on the outskirts of the town where we and participants from the Armory workshop, indicated that we would place our offerings.

Orange flags mark the spot where we'll took our Ofrendas. The flags are near a local landmark called 'The Cross'

Orange flags mark the spot where we’ll took our Ofrendas. The flags are near a local landmark called ‘The Cross’

We arrived in Kern County in the early evening and by the time we got near The Cross, it was close to 7pm. The summer sun was getting lower in the sky and the landscape was beautiful.

This the landscape as we drive on Bear Mountain Blvd. toward the hills just outside Arvin's central downtown.

This is the landscape as we drove on Bear Mountain Blvd, toward the hills just outside Arvin’s central downtown.

hilly landscapes, browned from a hot summer

Hilly landscapes, browned from a hot summer

This is near The Cross

Looking towards the direction of The Cross. Narrow roads head into farm fields and orchards closer to town

We parked our car on a turnout off of Bear Mountain Blvd and made our walk to the base of The Cross.

Michelle with all of our gear

After getting lost in endless fields trying to find a road directly to The Cross, We were able to park at a turnout off Bear Mountain Blvd, and climb down to The Cross through a broken fence. Here is Michelle with all of our gear.

Another fence next to a long dirt road

Another fence next to a long dirt road

The sun was setting as we got to our destination

The sun was setting as we got to our destination

Finally, The Cross

Finally, The Cross

First, we staked the Ofrendas into the ground to position them. Then, we took them off their sticks and buried them directly into the ground.

First, we staked the Ofrendas into the ground to position them. Then, we took them off their sticks and buried them directly into the ground.

Sun setting

Sun setting

Michelle burying our seed Ofrendas.

Michelle burying our seed Ofrendas.

Now what remains is to see if the poppy seeds will sprout. We hope there will be enough rainfall to grow our flowers. We will return consistently to see if our good wishes take root. Below are pictures of all the Ofrendas we planted that day. We’ll post updates and let you know what grows.

22_ofrenda 23_ofrenda 21_ofrenda 20_ofrenda18_ofrenda 17_ofrenda16_ofrenda 15_ofrenda 14_ofrenda 13_ofrenda 11_ofrenda 10_ofrenda 9_ofrenda 8_ofrenda 7_ofrenda 6_ofrenda 5_ofrenda 4_ofrenda 3_ofrenda 2_ofrenda 1_ofrenda    12_ofrenda

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Seed Ofrendas for Arvin’s Wildflowers. Part 1

Michelle and I conducted an event for the engagement series entitled: Armory Show and Tell, where we were invited to discuss our practice through a hands-on workshop. We started off by introducing participants to Arvin and our latest project, 1000 Wildflowers and the Women of Arvin, Ca. Then, we started the activity. About 20 participants took part in creating good wishes, which we called ofrendas. These pieces were made from bio-degradable materials and laced with poppy seeds in a yogurt base. Participants placed tiny orange flags on a map of Arvin where where their ofrenda would be planted. They are our homage to the wildflowers that used to blanket the hills surrounding Arvin. The workshop took place on August 6, at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena.  For a full description of our workshop you can click here.

****** Special Thanks to Nathalie Sanchez for taking these photos

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Before beginning the hands-on activity, Michelle Glass and Hataya Tubtim introduce our work in the community of Arvin, California through a slideshow. A projection of flower covered hills is left up for inspiration.

Michelle Glass and Hataya Tubtim explain give instructions to workshop participants

Michelle and Hataya give instructions to workshop participants

More instructions from Michelle

More instructions from Michelle

Participants get to work, painting and drawing.

Participants get to work, painting and drawing.

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Workshop participants paint on biodegradable flags. Later, the flags will be removed from their stakes and buried directly into the ground.

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Participants look to images of the golden poppy for inspiration. The paint is made out of yogurt and laced with Poppy seeds.

Sergio Teran working on his image

Sergio Teran working on his image

Watching mama paint!

Watching mama paint!

inspired by the golden poppy

Golden poppies freshly picked that morning.

showing off the finish

showing off the finish

finally placing their flags on the map.

finally placing their flags on the map.

Each number corresponds to an ofrenda, and will be planted in the area indicated. Here, the flags lie close to a landmark called 'The Cross.'

Each number corresponds to an ofrenda, and will be planted in the area indicated. Here, the flags lie close to a landmark called ‘The Cross.’

In all, we received 23 ofrendas to plant in Arvin. These represent the participant's good wishes for the return of the wildflowers.

In all, we received 23 ofrendas to plant in Arvin. These represent the participant’s good wishes for the return of the wildflowers.

Thank you! Armory Center for the arts for including us in the Show and Tell series and allowing us to talk about our work in Arvin.

Thank you! Armory Center for the arts for including us in the Show and Tell series and allowing us to talk about our work in Arvin.

The Armory Show and Tell

Event Location: The Armory Center For the Arts
145 North Raymond Avenue
Pasadena, Ca 91103

When:                Friday, August 2, 2013
12:45 -1:45 pm
in the Caldwell Gallery

Come join Hataya Tubtim and Michelle Glass as we make painted seed Ofrendas at the Armory Center For the Arts in Pasadena. Our workshop takes place on Friday August 2, from 12:45 -1:45 pm and is open to all ages so bring the whole family!  This event is part of the Armory’s Show and Tell series of workshops/lectures throughout July and August.

The rural community of Arvin, Ca, is a small town 15 miles southeast of Bakersfield with a population of apprx. 19,000 people (U.S. Census 2010).  Those who have lived there for generations can recall a time when the surrounding, rolling hills of Arvin, were covered with the myriad, brilliant colors of wildflowers. Today, the hills are not nearly as lush, declining for generations due to agricultural incursion, drought, and pollution.

For Armory Show and Tell, Michelle and Hataya would like to invite participants to create painted seed Ofrendas that will be planted in Arvin. Participants will create an ‘offering’ to the land by painting their own personalized messages and images on patches made of biodegradable, non-woven, non-toxic cellulose material. The yogurt-derived paint is infused with the seeds of wild poppies that once grew in abundance on the landscape. After completing their paintings, participants will choose a location on a map of Arvin where they would like their seed Ofrendas placed.  Hataya and Michelle will take the offerings to Arvin and stake them into the chosen site, where over time they will deteriorate, releasing the seeds to germinate into the landscape. Traditionally, an Ofrenda is an offering made to returning souls. In recent history a number of efforts have been made to address environmental conditions in the region and to reseed Arvin’s hills to their former glory. By placing new seeds and good wishes into the landscape, these offerings represent the hope of restoring the many colors that once existed there.

Each Ofrenda’s growth cycle will be documented in photographs and field notes that will be posted on the DeColores website, which archives the series of projects Michelle and Hataya have conducted in Arvin since 2011.

 

Final Installation at the Arvin Health Fair, April 19

kids_install

On Friday, April 19, Michelle Glass and I installed our first Arvin community project at the annual Arvin Health Fair.  This is the first in a series or works entitled DeColores: A Community Story Project, focused on the city of Arvin and surrounding communities in South Kern County. The Health Fair was held at the Veteran’s Hall courtyard and we installed the pieces in the middle of the yard, so they were surrounded by the activities and festivities. These included booths representing health and community services, food (delicious tacos for $1.00, snow cones, fruit, and lemonade), music, and dancing. At one point, the ‘Zumba’ ladies performed a routine, which both entertained and encouraged others’ to join their exercise group. The event lasted for 3 hours, from 4-7pm.

Zumba ladies led by Teresa perform

Zumba ladies led by Teresa perform

The triangular canvases were made with sail cloth, cut and stretched over  triangular frames fitted with magnets, after they were embellished by community members. Collages represent individual families, histories, memories, and symbols of Arvin.  Michelle and I chose the triangular form  for its geometric and architectural potential, but also because it symbolizes the mountains that we found to be so distinctive of our first visual impression of the Arvin landscape. Often, on topographical maps, mountains will be symbolized by simple triangles.

side_view

In all, we had about 27 canvases that were made by community members. These canvases were the results of several workshops and conversations, and each one that was created was done so with care, enthusiasm, and

heart. In another post, we will showcase each original canvas that was made for this project. Those who met with us over these several months, shared their stories, told us about their families, and were generous enough to give their time to this project. As Arvin and the rest of South Kern County work to build a healthier community, we hope these continued engagements with citizens will support their cooperation to meet the challenges they face.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Zumba ladies, Margarita, Amalia, the rest of the staff and especially the families of the Arvin Family Resource Center for their participation and advocacy for this project.

Timoteo from Dolores Huerta Foundation admires one of the triangles.

Timoteo from Dolores Huerta Foundation admires one of the triangles.

Booths represented local health and community services.

Booths represented local health and community services.

looking through the canvases

looking through the canvases

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The Arvin Health Fair event was very family friendly.

The Arvin Health Fair event was very family friendly.

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New Project for 2013: 1000 Wildflowers and the Women of Arvin

Update: 3-D Collage with Arvin Residents

In this new year, we intend to wrap up our inaugural project in Arvin. Hataya and Michelle have spent a good part of last year acquainting ourselves with community members and holding workshops. We especially thank the Arvin Family Resource Center, Margarita Perez, and the ‘Zumba Women.’ We also thank the Arts Council of Kern, The California Endowment, Kari Heilman, Laura Wolfe, and Jeanette Richardson Parks. Below is one concept sketch of our 3-D collage, featuring pieces made by community members, which we plan to install during March or early April. The installation will be a community event.

3dcollage_sketch3

New Project:  1000 Wildflowers and the Women of Arvin, California

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A guide to the region’s wildflowers published by Howard K. Dickson, 1963.

Additionally, Michelle and Hataya are proud to announce that we have received funding to begin a new project in Arvin, entitled 1000 Wildflowers and the Women of Arvin, California. This project will recall Arvin’s lost wildflowers while also attempting to examine the community’s history of female migration and labor.  This project is been funded by a Faculty Enrichment Grant from Samsung Corporation and the Art Center College of Design.

Dia De Los Muertos project with Arvin FRC

Last month, Michelle and I were back in Arvin to do more workshops for our community project. We also stopped by a local preschool to lead a short art project about upcoming Dia De LosMuertos in collaboration with the Arvin Family Resource Center. Here are some pictures from that fun class.

         
Adults and parents  helped the children make colorful hats out of paper, then used sequins, ribbons, and other materials to design their hats

         
One student proudly shows us his process.

    
The children wear their colorful creations!

Wishing for a Healthier Community

               

Last Saturday at the South Kern Arts and Culture Festival in Weedpatch, we asked participants to imagine what would improve the quality of life and health in their community. After drawing and writing their wishes on a flag, they planted them in our Wishing Flag garden under the shade of a nearby tree. At the end of the day, community members planted over a hundred wishes. Here are some of them.

Wishing for more trees

Wishing to live better

Wishing for less fertilizer use

Wishing for healthy foods

Wishing for farmers market produce

Wishing for a health center

Wishing to recycle clothes and shoes

Wishing to go green

Wishing for Ice Cream

Getting ready to plant a wish

Joining the Wishing Flag Garden

An ant’s eye view


At the Family Resource Center

The Arvin Family Resource Center provides valuable support to parents, children, and other community members. We are fortunate to be working with more warm and generous people. Last Friday, Michelle and I arrived with snacks and supplies, and gathered more story triangles for our imminent sculpture piece. Here are some pictures of participants’ work. We will definitely be back at the Family Resource Center again soon.

Amalia is ironing her image transfers

A family composition in process

Michelle and Kari do some image adjustments

Daisy helps her mother with their family story

Collaging images of day to day life

Our youngest participant is full of great ideas

Leon-Perez Family