Rainbow Warrior

Submitted by Jonathan Whitfill

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Client: Earthbound Moon

Location: Moriarty, NM, United States

Completion date: 2013

Artwork budget: $26,476

Project Team

Public Art Agent

Jonathan Whitfill

Earthbound Moon

Public Art Agent

Lee Pembleton

Earthbound Moon

Public Art Agent

Carson Murdach

Earthbound Moon

Public Art Agent

Amy Sampson

Earthbound Moon

Public Art Agent

Alex Clausen

Earthbound Moon

Public Art Agent

Libby Reed

Earthbound Moon

Artist

Travis Somerville

Industry Resource

Dan Dodt, Lighting Designer

Overview

Acquired through an online auction, one of the two Earthbound Moon sites in New Mexico is located nine miles east of Moriarty along Interstate 40, which is also part of historic Route 66. EbM’s small parcel of land sits in this undeveloped subdivision where the only neighbors aside from the looming billboards are grazing horses. At this site EbM commissioned California-based artist Travis Somerville (in collaboration with engineer and designer Dan Dodt) to build an underground structure installed outside Moriarty, NM that projects a rainbow only seen at night into the open sky.

Goals

When Travis Somerville was approached by the community arts organization Earthbound Moon to create a permanent installation, he began an investigation into the history of the land, wanting the work to be site-responsive conceptually, not just physically. Excavating the past through stories and iconography is central in Somerville’s work, so the artist searched for a genuine connection with the surrounding community. Uncovering the legend Warriors of the Rainbow, told across generations and tribes of Native Americans, Somerville had found his root. Warriors of the Rainbow is a prophecy about those who will save the Earth from environmental destruction. “Keepers of legends, stories, and cultural rituals,” these warriors are promised to restore purity to the Earth and justice to Mankind, ending the current state of environmental destruction. The Warriors of the Rainbow legend is a historic cache of culture, heritage and faith for the Native American community. Somerville’s Rainbow Warrior, like the legend itself, is a work that comes out of the Earth to tell the story of the Earth. The installation speaks to an universal concern of environmentalism through the lens of the Native American community. The work is a response to the history of the site’s land.

Process

Earthbound Moon prefers to begin every project with ample lead time, commissioning an artists two full years before the installation. In the first year, the artist visits the site to engage with the location and community. We believe that spending time in a place encourages greater empathy in artworks created after the experience. Although knowing the community cannot occur in a one-to-two week visit, this period allows for a different kind of knowledge than that gained only through theoretical research. In the second year of a project, the EbM team joins the artist onsite to install the work. We try to arrange lectures, gallery shows, events, and other forms of interaction with the community to accompany the installation.

Additional Information

Rainbow Warrior was made possible by made possible by The Lab, San Francisco, Arthur Pembleton, Janet Stott and 133 generous souls who gave to the cause.