Kha’ P’o Owenge
Road of Wild Roses
Lenora Naranjo-Morse, (Kha’ P’o Owenge), was deeply influenced by her mother, Rose, in the Tewa view of life that brings a sense of wholeness. She has been immersed in the spiritual practices that bring life through the womb into being a complete human being. Lenora Naranjo-Morse is a contemporary artist who energizes an ancestral sensibility into her art. She uses many earth-based materials such as glittering micaceous clay and adobe—in addition to other media, especially “trash” that can be worked into art. Lenora Naranjo-Morse is literally a hands-on learner and educator. Her public art piece at the National Museum of the American Indian, Always Becoming, in many ways exemplifies Lenora Naranjo-Morse’s leadership. Always Becoming is interactive, collaborative, and needs yearly collective tending. She involves the public and brings in artists from Sonora, Mexico to work with her. She widens the circle, sends her art into other hands for caretaking and renewal. Her art and life process, contemporary but with a deep grounding in her homeland, exemplifies Spirit Alignment and the standard bearing of a Legacy Leader.
Lenora Naranjo Morse Interview
They are becoming blessed beings; they are bringing the rain.
Nora brings us to the community garden and speaks to reconnecting young women to the earth. The garden is full of life and activity, exemplifying “communal togetherness and work that is key to the Pueblo worldview.” In the past, young women coming of age would be brought together to grind corn for four days. Today they participate in the Harvest Dance, honoring the corn and honoring themselves. Nora paints a portrait of generations of women in her family, planting and harvesting together. This is a time to be together in a closeness that encourages the young women of the value and possibilities in themselves.
Nambe Whageh: Pueblo Perspectives in Public Art | Nora Noranjo Morse
I had entered this door that was going to give me a lot of information, a lot of heartache, a lot of anger.
These words encapsulate the experience of Nora Noranjo Morse when creating a public piece of art for the city of Albuquerque. Nora was invited to join two other artists to create something to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of New Mexico by Don Juan Oñate. After deliberation among the artists, city officials, members of cultural institutions and citizens from the pueblos, it was decided that two pieces would be done. One that the first two artists had already envisioned as celebrating Don Juan Oñate, and one that Nora would envision. The journey of Nora’s vision and creation is both heartbreaking and empowering.
(As a postscript to getting this presentation ready for Nora’s website, we discovered that last June 2020, a protest grew around the bronze sculptures created by the original two artists to laud Don Juan Oñate. Protestors attempted to topple the sculptures and members of a militia grew violent and assaulted protestors, injuring one by a gunshot. One of the artists, Reynaldo Sonny Rivera, asked that the statues to be taken down. They have been temporarily removed.)
Filmed at the Minneapolis Institute of Art on February 14, 2019.