The title of this exhibit, American Crossroads, was selected before COVID-19 hit this country and months before the killing of George Floyd, which set off demonstrations and protests not only across our country but throughout the world. It now seems to be a premonition. America has come to a crossroads several times in its history, and we are certainly there now.
In this exhibit, I am showing my piece, “Southern Sentinel, Zion.”
In the Jewish tradition, Zion is the hill of Jerusalem on which the city of David was built. In Christian thought, it is the heavenly city or kingdom of heaven. Long before Mormon explorers reached the area now called Zion, various Native American cultures inhabited the area, beginning with the Anasazi who were pushed out by successive native cultures including Piute, Navajo and Ute, among others, who were then confronted by white explorers and settlers.
In 1909, President Taft signed a proclamation creating Mukuntuweap National Monument to protect Zion Canyon (named by Mormon settlers) and its surrounding area. The Woodrow Wilson administration significantly expanded it and renamed it Zion National Monument in 1918. In 1919, it received national park status.
Zion has been, both metaphorically and historically, a land of many crossroads.
It seems fitting to exhibit this piece now when not only our country, but our world is facing another significant crossroad.