Many Worlds Are Born Artist Talk - Marlena Robbins

How is the memory of conflict honored and the unthinkable remembered? In Welcome to Aztlan: A Convergence of Protest Culture, artist Marlena Robbins (Diné) references details from Bob Fitch's photographs of the 1974 Farmington Protests to make paintings on canvas and then invites members of the community to bead these canvases as an act of remembering. In so doing, Robbins invites viewers to think of history as a type of labor, a craft needing to be worked. As community members bead the canvas, Robbins shares her knowledge of beadwork and history with them. This is how the story is passed from one person to another. Like the act of remembering history, the artwork is never complete and stands as a call for others to pick up the unfinished work of the past. The 1974 Farmington Protests were in response to the murder of three Navajo men in Farmington, New Mexico by three teenage boys. The acts were described at the time as "Indian rolling." When State District Judge Frank B. Zinn sentenced the killers to a state-run reform school until they turned eighteen, the Navajo people began a campaign of nonviolent protest. Here the artist explains her work, and why their message is so import to convey.