By Rina Swentzell
2000. Edition of 60.
7.75 x 9.5”; 96 pages. Letterpress printed from polymer plates in Gill Sans type. Illustrations were digitally composed from original photographs and old family photos and slides provided by the author. Details of landscapes and suggestions of petroglyphs are fused with photographed faces seen in the composite rock formations as spirits of the place. Images were printed in quiet, desert hues using archival inks and a color printer and adhered using archival glue. Sewn and bound in an earthy brown handmade paper.
A story by Rina Swentzell about the people of the Santa Clara Pueblo. A tale of epic stature about the life and deliberations of a changing people. There are no battles or threats of invaders but an internal struggle within the community between the forces of convention and change. When the wild Ojegeh is asked to leave the village, she takes with her an aspect of the people's spirit that must evolve for them to survive. It is the shadow side—creative, unformed, and full of longing. With her strange ways, she forces a rift between those who would embrace a more complete way of knowing and those who are comfortable with the status quo.
Swentzell enriches the tale with details of ordinary life set against the backdrop of larger historical pattern. The linguistic inflections and syntax of a writer who is also a Tewa speaker echo the oral tradition of a people skilled in the psychology of human relationships and schooled in the broad sky and otherworldly landforms of the New Mexican desert. The fires that ravaged the Jemez Mountains in the summer of 2000, and threatened to destroy some of the historical and sacred sites that make up the geography of this book, underscored a need for documentary evidence of a people who have inhabited this landscape for thousands of years.