The Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College is now closing the door on the innovative PIVOT: Skateboard Deck Art exhibit. The exhibit was first opened in March of 2020, temporarily closed to the public due to COVID-19, and officially came to an end last week — Friday, March 19. The exhibit was made available for viewings in person and could be viewed virtually. The last visitors to the exhibit were four Southern Ute Education students: Elijah Weaver, Kalynn Weaver, Cyrus Naranjo and Ezekiel Howell, who were personally invited by the Center of Southwest Studies for a field trip.
The art exhibit was full of contemporary paintings, consisting of over 100 pieces of art from 28 different artists from 13 different Native American tribes. Not only do the artist share a common canvas of blank skateboard decks, but they all represent parts of their cultures as well as modern society. The name “PIVOT” refers to the quick transitions that people make between traditional culture and contemporary day-to-day lives. It’s a way for artists to contribute to ancestral communities and homelands while still working in modern cities.
These artists have found a way to develop motifs by melding traditional themes with contemporary experiences. By starting with a raw canvas, they each brought their own unique talents and experiences — personal, familial and tribal — to life.
Together, these artists have inspired and influenced each other across the boundaries of culture. “I loved the art on every skateboard, not only did they look amazing, but I loved the different representation in each design, I could tell they really put thought into every color, shape and aspect of the decks,” Kalynn Weaver stated. “It was a great exhibit and experience, I would definitely want to see this show again.” Weaver was one of the four students from the Southern Ute Education Department that viewed the exhibit on its final day.
The guest curators Duane Koyawena from the Hopi tribe and Landis Bahe from the Navajo Nation provided each artist with the pivotal moment to create iconic pieces of Native American art. Each artist was able to express their own tradition in new ways, ancient artifacts like baskets, pottery and weaving found a way into modern designs and their own creation stories were expressed through contemporary graphic styles. PIVOT not only celebrates the commonality of tradition, but it provided a way to celebrate the differences among tribal traditions. “We wanted to unite artists and cultures, to bring them together as one,” said Koyawena. “Art reflects life. We hope this art can also inspire.”
Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council and Youth Employment Coordinator, Dustin Weaver supervised the students visit to the cutting-edge exhibit. Weaver has overseen the planning, build and the opening of the new skatepark that was a major project for the Youth Council. “We hope to have the PIVOT exhibit showcased at the grand opening of the new skatepark in Ignacio,” Weaver expressed. “We want to bring the exhibit in to show the youth the positive impacts that art can make in a community.” Not only will this show be an opportunity for youth to see a finely curated exhibit, but it can also be used as a medium to discuss issues of family, community, respect, cultural identity, loss and hope for the future.