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.

Sanctum:  Zion National Park

Text and Art by Beth Shadur

Sanctum (Zion National Park)

Zion National Park sits on land sacred and home to the Southern Paiute Nation, and is known to them as Oawingwa (where the stream flows) or Loogoon (arrow quiver).

This land was lived in for over 10,000 years by early Native peoples. Artifacts have been found here from Archaic Fremont, Anasazi and Paiute cultures; the small patterned Washington black and white bowl shard shown is from A.D. 700-900, and was found in a storage cistern at the Watchman site.

Mormon settlers came to the area in the 1850s; they were dazzled by the scenery. This inspired the eventual biblical name Zion. The painting includes these early Mormon settlers as well as tourists who came by early automobiles, and the original park gate. Early tunnel construction is also depicted.

Major John Wesley Powell, upon visiting the area, named this area Mukuntuweap, (“the place where the great spirit dwells” or “straight canyon”), based on the Paiute language, and the original designation was of Mukuntuweap National Monument. A young boy and older man are painted from a photograph (1874) displayed at Zion.

Other images include various species threatened by overuse of the park, such as the Mexican Spotted Owl, the Red Spotted Toad, and the Physella Zionis snail, only found in the Narrows Trail area.

Tourists flock to Zion, which is threatened by too much visitation. In fact, limitation of visitors is being considered in order to preserve the Park experience. Night skies for which the park is well known are also threatened by light pollution. (the night sky appears in the upper right of the painting) Further threats come from the potential development of oil and gas drilling proposed by the 2017 Bureau of Land Management under the current administration that would reside within a mile of the Park. This would lead to sound and water pollution as well as further threaten the Park’s attraction for its many visitors.

The Southern Paiute people still live in the area. The Paiute Indian Tribe is currently trying to build a Native Cultural Center near the town of Springdale, which hosts the entrance into the Park, but so far, haven’t been able to convince the town of Springfield to commercially zone an area of land.  

Sanctum, watercolor, by Beth Shadur

Just Peachy, watercolor, by Beth Shadur