Indeed, all of the collaborators are deeply invested in community. In addition to preserving traditional basket weaving techniques, Johnson’s organization, Tohono O’odham Community Action, focuses on bringing stories, rituals, and native foods back to the community. His projects include the Desert Rain Café, a restaurant that is addressing the high diabetes and obesity rates in Native children by reintroducing families to healthy, traditional Tohono O’odham dishes.
For their part, Aranda\Lasch have created a new kind of rock for the exhibition. The studio is working with the (aptly named) scientist David Stone, inventor of the formula for ferrock, a new material five times stronger than concrete. As ferrock oxidizes, it captures carbon dioxide from the air, making it a potentially carbon-negative building material. It will be used to create the rock baskets, as well as a dome structure of overlapping petal shapes that will also be on view in the exhibition. “We want to use this show as an opportunity to prototype a new building material that could be used on the Tohono O’odham reservation in Sells, Arizona,” Aranda says. They imagine the dome being used as a seed bank, to preserve endangered native plants. With a touch of alchemy, Aranda, Lasch, and Johnson may just help to build a bridge across cultures, and keep the traditions of the Tohono O’odham Nation alive.