The members of Jewish Artists Collective Chicago write about our stories, struggles, experiences, and musings, and how they inspire us to create contemporary Jewish art.

At Attention:  Bryce Canyon National Park

Original inhabitants of the Bryce area were Paleoindians who hunted mammals at the end of the Ice age; the area has been populated for around 10,000 years. Winters were harsh so it isn’t likely there were actual settlements, but hunting took place in the plateaus. The area was considered sacred for its seasonal hunting and gathering by the Fremont (as called by Euroamerican anthropologists) and Anazasi people, who were connected to the land before historical records were kept. Ancestral relationships with the land are crucial to the Southern Paiute, Hopi, Zuni, Ute and Navajo Peoples.

Paiutes harvested pine nuts here and hunted rabbits. The painting includes an 1878 photograph of young Paiute children carrying water in pine pitch sealed baskets. Paiutes considered Bryce sacred land; their story claims that hoodoos were created when evil legend people were turned to stone by the Coyote Spirit. (lower left area of painting) Vision quests took place here for young males. The Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah still live in the area on ten separate land parcels in five counties of southwestern Utah, and number over 900 members.

This area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and Ebenezer Bryce built his cabin there, still found today (lower left area of painting including Ebenezer and Mary Bryce) John Wesley Powell was an early explorer who marveled at these Utah lands, and he is shown on horseback (upper right) with a Native American guide. Bryce Canyon National Park was designated in 1928.

Current threats include environmental and usage concerns for the Utah Prairie Dog and the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. (in center of painting) Air pollution from large industrial and urban areas threaten not only the park’s air quality but water, fragile landscape and vegetation. At the Park, solar panels have been installed at the Visitor Center (shown in painting) While the Park is often very crowded, moves to limit visitors have not yet been considered but car usage is limited. The Trump Administration considered opening mining of 30 million tons of coal near the park, adding to air quality, water and sound pollution, overuse of vehicles and light pollution affecting the famous night skies.

At Attention, watercolor by Beth Shadur