During an artist residency in Scottsdale, AZ at the School of Architecture, Taliesin-West I was fascinated to find a citrus grove full of ripe fruit. While enjoying the fruit I also questioned their suitability for an arid region – and ultimately their water consumption to grow these juicy fruits. Much to my surprise I found out that the ancient Hohokam tribes once home in this region also grew crops that relied on irrigation.
I created special labels for the fruits – to put them into context with the greater Phoenix environment, and to inspire thought and creativity. The oranges bear spiral-shaped excerpts from Pima Indian mythology about the creation of the universe and earth. The grapefruits bear a Hohokam labyrinth, a metaphor for the journey through life, with the center being the final destination where all dreams and experiences are stored and where the Sun God greets us once life’s goals have been fulfilled. I attached the labels to the fruits in a ceremonial act, and after their harvest distributed them amongst the Taliesin community.
To learn more about Taliesin-West and the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, please visit:
This piece is a response to the citrus orchard at Taliesin-West West – Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter residence and the winter location of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. While I was fascinated with eating oranges and grapefruits directly from the tree, it seemed absurd to grow citrus in a desert; and I started wondering how much water these trees might conserve to grow these juicy fruits – in an arid environment, where the sun dries out soil, plants and their leaves. While the mega-cities of the American West rely entirely on water canalled to them from the Colorado River System, I was surprised to learn that the ancient Hohokam Indians – once home in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area – also planted crops that relied on irrigation. They too had elaborate irrigation systems, just as we have them today. However, a severe draught dried up their water supply and eventually caused the tribe to perish.
A person spending most of my time in urban areas, it is rare for me to have fruit without a label sticker on its skin. I decided to create special labels for these fruits; ones that put them into historical context with the Taliesin-West environment; while at the same time inspiring thought and creativity.
For the oranges I made plaques that bear short pieces of text laid out in the shape of a spiral. Spirals were commonly used as a design element in ancient Hohokam as well as contemporary Pima Indian culture. The texts are excerpts from Pima mythology about the creation of the universe, earth, plants, animals, and of mankind. To read the Pima stories, please visit: http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/Legends-PS.html – Pima.
The grapefruits bear the design of a labyrinth used by the Hohokam Indians. The labyrinth holds great meaning in Hohokam as well as Pima culture, some of which I tried to summarize in the short phrases on the outer rim of the labels. Most importantly the path through the labyrinth is seen as a metaphor for our journey though life. It contains all the experiences we encounter throughout our life. The center of the labyrinth stands for the final destination, the place we reach at the end of life’s journey, when we have fulfilled all our goals. The center also holds all our dreams. According to Pima belief the Sun God greets us here and passes us on into the next world.
I attached the labels to the individual fruits in a ceremonial act, and harvested the fruits a few days later. The fruits were offered to the Taliesin-West community and to tourists visiting the estate.