Cliff Dwellings: Native Southwest Culture

Recently, we took a trip up north to Roosevelt Lake where we were guided to find ancient cliff dwellings.  Around 1400 AD, the Salado tribe built a shelter for their people, designed to protect them from various elements such as the hot Arizona sun in the summer, and rain during the colder seasons.  Being near the top of the mountain, they built ladders to gain access to their new home.  Today it is still a mystery why the Salado tribe abandoned this home, but the remaining evidence has proved their existence.  This 700 year old structure provides some inspiring concepts to be applied to designs we are currently working on.  The rich colors and textures of the exposed stone in combination with the primitive framing shows the native culture of the Southwest, and Arizona specifically. 

Seeking Inspiration-The Heard Museum

Yesterday Matt and I visited the Heard Museum in Downtown Phoenix in search of knowledge and inspiration.  It was such a rewarding and enriching experience, and wonderful to spend the day in the cold AC.  We started with lunch in the Courtyard Cafe, delicious tastes of the southwest; guacamole, posole and street tacos...topped off with prickly pear lemonade, delish!  As we explored the permanent collection, I took the time to read and study the patterns and shapes of the textiles, basketry and pottery surrounding us.  Below is a quote I found particularly meaningful and I feel puts into words so eloquently what home is to us at BSA.  I hope to continue injecting this spirit into all of the homes we are so fortunate to be a part of designing. 

Redefining "Home"

As children we grow up knowing our neighbors not as people living next door to us, but as relatives.  Our Aunt and her family lived on one side, and our cousin and his family lived on the other.  That is the way it always has been.  

A home is both the space inside and outside the building.  A home is more than just the structure, the house, the ki;, the hogan, the wikieup.  Ki: in O'odham means both house and home.  It is the aroma, the textures of the building that helps us remember.  The smell of the wet dirt walls, the smell of dry dust.  

It is the smell of the green brush on the roof, in the walls.  It is the texture.  The smooth mud walls, the rough ribs from cactus and ocotillo, the branches of cottonwood and posts from cedar and pine.

Home is a place that has the right feel, the right smell, the right sense of coolness when you touch the walls. 

-Ofelia Zepeda, Tohono O'odham


Also not to be missed is the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibit showing now thru August 20th. Several masterpieces by both artists are on display along with many photographs of the two, some created by world class photographic artists of their time.  

We finished up the day exploring the museum shop.  Many fine Native American artwork is available for purchase such as pottery, basketry, painting, jewelry and textile weavings.  You can be sure that the pieces you purchase at the Heard are authentic and created by Native American artisans.  

Please consider supporting the Native arts community by spending the day at the Heard Museum.   I hope that your experience will be a rewarding as ours was.