Roxanne Swentzell Sculpture
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"Kosa Mortar Lesson"

Clay Original
27 " H, 18" W, 15 1/2" D


In my lifetime, I've had a few opportunities to rework a piece that I thought was done, "but came back for more". This Pueblo Kosa (clown) is one of those pieces. It started out simple and a play on his black and white stripes turning into sides turning into building blocks...(cute), but the blocks turned into a wall. Building walls seemed to be a theme of the times and had an emotional charge that came with it. I couldn’t help but feel the Kosa playing off this concept of borders, walls, "insiders", and "outsiders". I thought of Dr. Seuss's brilliant book, "The Star Belly Snitches", and our human insecurities of wanting to belong. The question always becomes, "Who and what are you and where do you belong?" This question brings up my blood pressure immediately. Well, the next phase of this piece took the shape of turning the blocks into flags from around the world and dying the cornhusk on his head orange. I guess I needed to make a comment from my own hurt and angry Native American point of view about "outsiders", but it didn't stop there...the conversation wasn't over, nor will it be for quite awhile. As I watched people's reactions to this piece, I wish I could say that I acted from a deeper,

wiser place than my hurt, but sometimes we have to scream before we can cry, and even then, we might have to cry a long time before we can forgive and see beyond the hurt. Today the Kosa talked to me and I heard him say, "I am built of all these blocks" I fell silent, and then I cried some more, because it was there all along in front of me but I couldn't see it until I finished my temper tantrum. He held that trowel all this time, but I didn't understand that it was about putting the blocks together, not blocking anyone out. We have differences, great diversities, but we are all humans living on this Earth. One Earth. The other day I was having a conversation about the origins of private property. We came to the conclusion that private property took the place of respect somewhere along the way. If one has respect, we do not need private property because healthy boundaries would be honored between all things (not just humans). Without respect, power from ownership becomes the right to do whatever you want to anything regardless of the feelings and lives of others. I think of the mortar between us all and hope it can be the care and respect for all things so that we build great things together instead of create walls that hurt.
Photo by: Phil Karshis

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