Meeting the Clouds Halfway

Terrol Dew Johnson and Aranda\Lasch

Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson

October 29, 2016-January 29, 2017


Coiling is the core of the collaboration between Tohono O’odham fiber artist Terrol Dew Johnson and New York and Tucson-based architects Aranda\Lasch. What began as a conversation about the similarities between traditional Native American craft and cutting-edge design became a decade-long exchange that re-imagines an ancient material practice within the needs of a contemporary world. The result of their dialogue is a range of constructions, from baskets to architecture, which suggest cross-cultural sharing as a means of reckoning, manifesting a shared truth that inspires reflection and action.

Meeting the Clouds Halfway presents this new series of objects, which use materials and rituals born from the Sonoran Desert, a region rich in both ancestral wisdom and visionary thinking. For many generations, the Tohono O’odham have coiled baskets out of desert fibers not only for domestic use, but also as a ceremonial meditation that unites art with life. The act of coiling creates form through an intuitive geometric system and iterative movements, building on a set of principles that can be manipulated to create new compositions.

Meeting the Clouds Halfway evolves Johnson and Aranda\Lasch’s new series of collaborative coil baskets into furniture, and prototypical architectural structures. They produce a landscape of expressions shaped by bear grass, wood, copper, minerals and Ferrock, a new green building material that transforms industrial waste into a high performance ceramic. Through these juxtapositions of materials, strategies, and histories, it becomes apparent that Johnson and Aranda\Lasch use the process of making as a means of understanding each other. Every fiber, each warp and woof of their baskets embodies a discussion about living in the desert and the pursuit of finding a common ground.