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.