Project in the Citrus Grove at Taliesin-West, Scottsdale, AZ, February 2011
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. I was fascinated with eating oranges and grapefruits directly from the tree, and realized that 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 environment where Taliesin-West is situated; while at the same time inspiring thought and creativity. Despite my admiration for these trees, it seemed absurd to grow citrus in a desert. I was surprised to learn that the ancient Hohokam Indians also planted crops that relied solely on irrigation; and that they 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.
The oranges bear short pieces of text laid out in a spiral. Spirals were commonly used as a design element in ancient Hohokam as well as contemporary Pima Indian culture. (Spirals and double spirals can be found on petroglyphs, pottery and woven baskets). The texts are excerpts from Pima mythology about the creation of the universe, earth, plants, animals, and of mankind. If you want to read the 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.
After they were harvested, I offered the fruits to the Taliesin-West community and to tourists visiting the estate. I told them about the Hohokam labyrinth and handed out copies of the Pima creation stories I had taken the excerpts from.