This recent body of work emerged from Sakiestewa's inclusion in the Chaco Heritage Project, a juried residency organized by UNM's Maxwell Museum of Anthropology with support from the National Endowment of the Arts and Chaco Cultural National Historic Park Museum. The project allowed ten Native American artists, including Sakiestewa, to spend time working directly with artifacts dating from 850 to 1250 AD used by the ancient inhabitants of the Chaco Cultural National Historic Park. The Puebloan ruin has personal connections to Sakiestewa's Hopi heritage and life. She explains, "my ancestors traversed Chaco Canyon and the Colorado Plateau for hundreds of years. Growing up in the Southwest, most of my summers included camping trips to Chaco Canyon."
Sakiestewa has developed five new series of works, inspired by the architecture, objects and natural beauties of Chaco Canyon. While much of the work relates to the imagery and motifs of the physical artifacts, the Raven series is comprised of cut-up monotypes collaged and sewn into the form of ravens, which rely on Sakiestewa's own memories of her time at the canyon.
In the titular Light Echoes series, Sakiestewa highlights the Chacoan people's strong connection to celestial patterns. Each of the five paintings features expertly layered colors punctuated by blocks of rich gold leaf. 'Light echoes' is a term used by astronomers to describe light reflecting off of surfaces such as cosmic dust. "I see these paintings as visual echoes of what has gone before, the reappearance of ancient light," Sakiestewa explains.
Her work will be displayed through the run of the 96th Santa Fe Indian Market. As the city welcomes the best of contemporary Native American art, TAI Modern is glad to present an exhibition inspired by one of richest anthropological sites of Puebloan cultures.