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New public art installation honors San Antonio's indigenous heritage

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COURTESY OF THE CITY OF SAN ANTONIO
  • Courtesy of the City of San Antonio
To celebrate the deep roots of indigenous heritage in San Antonio, the Department of Arts and Culture and the Public Art Division unveiled Najo Jām, a new public art installation at Comanche Lookout Park.

The 96-acre park in far Northeast San Antonio has long been known for its stunning views of the city. But, now, its peak is enhanced by an installation created by San Antonio-based artists Carlos Cortés and Doroteo Garza, whose work celebrates the longstanding traditions and ceremonies of multiple South Texas indigenous tribes. The name of the installation, Najo Jām, means “Our Home” in the Coahuiltecan language Pajalate.

COURTESY OF THE CITY OF SAN ANTONIO
  • Courtesy of the City of San Antonio
“It is my hope that when park visitors see the installation, they gain an understanding that indigenous stories and memories existed here long before their hike,” Garza said in a press release. “Nature is so integral to the indigenous way of life, and I am excited for people to connect with the land by viewing and interacting with the artwork while standing in the center of an area so important to indigenous culture and heritage.”

For the installation, Garza and Cortés created pieces including stylized benches, a planter and a monument, all of which were made using trabajo rústico, a technique in which artists imitate wood and stone using reinforced concrete.

COURTESY OF THE CITY OF SAN ANTONIO
  • Courtesy of the City of San Antonio
“The use of trabajo rústico for this project is meaningful and intentional, as both the technique and symbols of indigenous culture represent deep and rich traditions,” said Cortés, a third generation trabajo rústico concrete artisan. “It is inspiring to use the skills passed down to me from my father, who learned from my great uncle, to honor and reflect on the ancestors and heritage of this land.”

The artists also collaborated on an oversized planter in the shape of a peyote bud, which is currently on display at the River Walk Public Art Garden in downtown San Antonio. The planter will later be moved to Comanche Lookout Park.


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