NMHS | APRIL 2023
New Mexico Historic Sites
The Artist-In-Residence program at Bosque Redondo Memorial is particularly poignant to the Fort Sumner Historic Site. There are so many more facets of the site history that need to be told. Art often provides a voice to those whose words are silenced by the trauma that this history has created.
The first residency artists are DezBaa’ (Diné) and her father David Henderson (Diné), who will live and work at the Fort Sumner Historic Site for six weeks ending May 6. At the conclusion of their residency, the artists will premiere a documentary featuring David’s journey of self-discovery, as well as a series of interviews with Bosque Redondo Memorial staff, historians, medicine people and others.
DezBaa’ is an accomplished artist in the film industry, including as a SAG-AFTRA actor, a WGA screenwriter, and an indie producer. Currently, she is a staff writer on the AMC series Dark Winds. David is a septuagenarian Navy veteran, Los Alamos National Labs retiree, and Film Digital Arts student at Northern New Mexico College.
For the documentary, DezBaa’ will film David while he documents his past as part of his college class project. Though neither of them grew up within the Diné culture or with the language—a reflection of both circumstance and survival—they are now both cultivating language revitalization and cultural teachings in their respective homes, as well as for Henderson’s grandchildren, who are Navajo Nation citizens. Together, DezBaa’ and Henderson will conduct a series of interviews about Bosque Redondo and the Navajo Long Walk with staff and historians at the Memorial and other historians and scholars in the area and in Navajo Nation, and consult with medicine people about the Long Walk. They will also seek out a Diné musician for the documentary’s score.
The second residency, featuring Dakota Mace (Diné), will run from May 13 to June 17. Dakota is an interdisciplinary artist who focuses on translating the language of Diné history and beliefs. She received her MA and MFA degrees in Photography and Textile Design at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her BFA in Photography from the Institute of American Indian Arts. As a Diné artist, her work draws from the history of her tribal heritage, exploring the themes of family lineage, community, and identity. She is represented by Bruce Silverstein Gallery in New York City.
This residency is a continuation of an ongoing project titled “Dahodiyinii (Sacred Places),” which examines the importance of land and place. According to Dakota, "the stories shared will show the relationship we, as Diné people, still communicate with our ancestors and the memory or imprint they left within the land. The work is intended to be a multidisciplinary installation with photography, video, audio and performance and to show how our bodies are archives, a collaboration between time and materials while exploring the idea of impertinence. For many Indigenous people, memories are embedded within the land. Through this project, I explore how we, as Diné, see ourselves, how our bodies store these memories, and how those histories continue to affect Diné people."