James Luna – In Memoriam

March 29, 2018

James and Denise at Stanford

James and me, Stanford University

As many of you already know, my collaborator, James Luna, passed away in March of this year.  The American Indian Art Institute, where his papers are archived, made this beautiful tribute to him.  All of us in the art community are  so saddened by his sudden departure – he has left us all too soon.  I am honored to have collaborated with him, first when Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) invited me to research James’ and his work for the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time.  This ultimately lead to our first collaboration, Transitions (2012) about us both growing up as people of color the suburbs of Orange County.  James approached me a year later to begin a new collaboration, Ancestral Cartographic Rituals, in which we tested our DNA and explored what makes an “authentic” Indigenous person, and also.   We showed an in-progress version of it at Stanford in November of 2017. In planning for the Stanford showing, I kept envisioning us in a room full of sand, which we would move, like shifting continents, across venue floor.  For various reasons, we decided to pre-shoot a video in Tucson instead, and James asked me to take the lead on our collaborative action. Special thanks to our fantastic Tucson crew: Cait NiSiomon (videographer/editor), Wesley Creigh, Genevieve Heron, Heather Gray, and my family and Ivan Vasquez for their generosity and support of this project.

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