Grace and Ira, Golden Hour At and Despite Steele Indian School Park
During the summer of 2019, Saldamando made a special portrait titled “Grace and Ira, Golden Hour At and Despite Steele Indian School Park” for her exhibition “southwestNET: Shizu Saldamando” at SMoCA. Saldamando met Grace and Ira through her friend and artist Douglas Miles (who is Grace’s father, Ira’s grandfather), and, on a sunny day in winter, they met up at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix to photograph the mother and son for their portrait. During their visit, Grace shared the tragic history of Phoenix’s Indian School which separated Native American children from their families on the reservation to assimilate them into white culture at a young age. This weighed heavy on the artist as she photographed the young Native American mother with her son in a place that once sought to separate them.
In the painted portrait, a dusting of gold shimmer and leaves hover above their heads and flows from the wood panel onto the adjacent wall. The artist often excludes the background to focus on the people, but in this double portrait, Saldamando uses the gold cloud to suggest the tree that protected them from the desert sun—and possibly an abstract representation of past indigenous mothers and their children.
Please include the following identification when using this image online or in print.