Always Becoming

Always Becoming

Infobox Sculpture

title = Always Becoming
artist = Nora Naranjo-Morse
year = 2007
type = Dirt, sand, straw, clay,
stone, black locust wood,
bamboo, grass, and yam vines.
city = Washington, D.C.
museum =
National Museum of the American Indian

Always Becoming is an artwork created in 2007 by Nora Naranjo-Morse (born 1953), a Native American Potter and poet. She currently resides in Espanola, New Mexico , just north of Santa Fe and is a member of the Santa Clara Pueblo.


The sculpture consists of five separate sculptures, that make up a family.

Grounded in figures from Santa Clara Pueblo oral tradition the sculptures are named:
* Father
* Mother
* Little one
* Moon Woman
* Mountain Bird

The sculptures were built in-situ over the summer of 2007, Nora Naranjo-Morse worked with her niece Athena Swentzell Steen and her husband Bill Steen who are experts at building structures with natural material, and the family of Don Juan Morales (Tepehuan) from the Mexican state of Durango, as well as many volunteers including museum staff and visitors.

-- Nora Naranajo-Morse, 2007 []


The Sculptures are made entirely of natural materials: dirt, sand, straw, clay, stone, black locust wood, bamboo, grass, and yam vines. These natural elements were selected to take on a life of their own and thus affect the sculptures over time. In this way the materials ensure the forms are 'always becoming'.


The five sculptures range in size from seven and a half to sixteen feet tall.

History and Location

On May 24, 2006, the National Museum of the American Indian announced that Santa Clara Pueblo artist, Nora Naranjo-Morse from Espanola, N.M., had won its outdoor sculpture design competition. “Always Becoming” was selected unanimously from more than 55 entries submitted by Native artists from throughout the Western Hemisphere. []

During the summer of 2007, on the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC, Nora Naranjo-Morse (Santa Clara Pueblo) built a family of clay sculptures. The commissioned work is located on the 'Native landscape' at the museum’s south entrance on Maryland Avenue S.W. near 4th Street and Independence Avenue S.W., Washington, D.C.

A public dedication, officially opening these public works of art, took place on September 1st 2007.

The sculptures are intended to disintegrate over time, and the lives of sculptures from the initial idea through the continued process of stewardship are being documented by Filmmaker Dax Thomas (Laguna/Acoma). As the sculptures disintegrate the films of their life will form a more permanent record of their existence and are therefore an essential part of the artistic process, and the work of art itself. []

cquote| "Native culture and the environment served as the inspiration for the sculpture design. 'Always Becoming' will reflect themes of growth and adaptation and represent indigenous peoples' unique relationship to the environment," ...

"The sculpture's metaphor of home and family not only conveys a universal theme to all peoples, but also enhances the visitors' experience that they have entered a Native place when they step foot on the museum grounds." -- Nora Naranajo-Morse, 2007 []



External Links

Nora Naranjo-Morse discussing her Art

* The National Museum of the American Indian, Vine Deloria, Jr., Native Writers Series featuring 'Nora Naranjo-Morse' reading poetry and discussing her work: a YouTube introduction [] and the full lecture [] .

Images of the Artwork

* Always Becoming Official Website Images. []
* Flickr groups for Always Becoming [] and []

Video of the Artwork

* Dax Thomas's page on Includes the original Video Proposal for the Sculpture. []
* The collected films of the project being made by Dax Thomas (Laguna/Acoma) are available at the National Museum of the American Indian Podcasts. [] These films are also available on YouTube
* Episode 1: “How It Began” []
* Episode 2: “Materials” []
* Episode 3: "Family" []
* Episode 4: "Community" []
* Episode 5: "Dialogue" []
* Episode 6: "Gathering" []
* Episode 7: "The Final Coat" []
* Episode 8: "Becoming" []
* Episode 9: "The Earth/La Tierra" []

About the Artwork

* NMAI Announcement of Always Becoming as the winner of the Outdoor sculpture Design Competition. []
* Announcement of the NMAI’s outdoor Sculpture Design Competition Winner []
* National Museum of the American Indian “Always Becoming” Official Website []
* Canelo Project]
* Smithsonian Institution ‘Native Networks’ []
* Native Networks entry for Dax Thomas ((Laguna/Acoma) the film maker making the film of the project []
* Nora Naranjo-Morse entry on Native Networks []
* Tanasi Journal []
* Voice of America News: “Five New Sculptures Welcome Visitors to American Indian Museum” []
* Blog entries about the videos by Dax Thomas. []
* Go Smithsonian []
* Home Sweet Farm: Cultivating Stewardship, Growing Righteous Food (blog): “Always Becoming”: []
* Southwestern Association for Indian Arts: Board of Directors ‘Nora Naranjo-Morse’ Biography []
* Smithsonian Magazine Article: Sculpting Her Vision. By Nicole Wroten '' October 31, 2007. []
* Dig your Hands in the Dirt: Making Art of the Earth Together (Blog): Friday, February 8, 2008 'Always Becoming' – Story and photos (except where noted) by Bill Steen []

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