Hi! I am Sasha Reisin, originally from Argentina. I have been drawing for as long as I can remember, which led me to street art in 2012. Currently, I spend my time making localized public art projects, where I thrive to empower people through art. I do a lot of community outreach so people can gather, share and recognize their own local identities.
Location: Hoytsville, Utah – USA. 2022
Commissioner: Park City & Summit County Arts Council
Concept: I designed and painted a public mural based on community outreach, including workshops, school visits, 1:1 interviews, and open paint days. We held more than 10 participatory workshops to work on community symbols.
I visited the local elementary & high school, and through fun and dynamic games, over 200 students were able to draw, make up stories and work in groups, in order to identify what makes this place unique. Working with maps and antique/favorite objects that they brought, they told me of natural landmarks historical sites, community leaders, town activities, local flora and fauna, and usual travel routes.
Besides my own research and the group workshops, we interviewed many people that have lived here their whole lives. They are the 3rd, 4th generation of farmers and miners who were allocated in this area 150 years ago. We also interviewed two members of originary cultures that have lived there for a long time: Lucy Washakie (Easter Shoshone culture) and Larry Cesspooch (Ute culture).
Part 1 - research
I want to share with you this 3 week community-based project where I did research, interviews, workshops, to gather the information for a mural that represents the place.
Hoytsville is a rural community one hour away from Salt Lake City, Utah. It began 150 years ago when the Mormons settled in this area and started farming, mining and the train system. The had some alliances with native cultures that inhabited this land, such as Ute and Shoshone.
The first step was getting there, meeting the team, the family I was staying with and people involved in the project. Touring the place, understanding the geography, visiting local museums to learn about local culture. What's the community like? What makes this place unique?
At the same time I was capturing some things I liked because of their symbology, patterns, colors, historical value. I was also learning from other local artists since they express important landmarks, flora and fauna. What's important for people in this place? 🧭
Part 1 - Research (extended)
Another round of symbols that make the culture and historical identity of this community.
Learning from Ute and Shoshone cultures (between many that inhabited this land), we had the chance to interview two people that I will tell you about later. Visiting petroglyphs that live together with graffitis from Mormon emigrants, in this snowy landscape of the mountains. 🐟
Researching community leaders like George Beard, photographer, painter, urbanist. Noting mining codes that I take from library books. This is how I meet people made from pure love like NaVee, a woman that used to be the county librarian and she shows me everything they made to rescue their history. ✨
Taking symbols from rugs, ceramic patterns, houses, riding my bike through the old train line. I'm like this for two weeks, with interviews and workshops, to work the identity of the community. I will tell you about that in the next post 📯
Part 2 - Workshops 🐟
We held more than 10 participatory workshops to work on community symbols. Besides having general groups I did something I love: I visited the local elementary & high school, and through fun and dynamic games the kids were able to draw, make up stories and work in groups, in order to identify what makes this place unique. They were a lot of students! Like 200 in total 🤯 I'm so happy to have the opportunity to share with such an amount of young kids ☄️
Working with maps and antique/favorite objects that they brought, they told me of natural landmarks, historical sites, community leaders, town activities, local flora and fauna, usual travel routes.
This information is the ground base for the mural design, therefore collectively built with everyone's input 💪✨
Part 3 - interviews
Besides my own research and the group workshops, we interviewed many people that have lived here their whole lives . They are 3, 4th generation of farmers and miners whom allocated in this area 150 years ago.
We also interviewed two members of originary cultures that have lived there for a long time. Now they live scattered in the different towns or in certain territories the government designated when they occupied (stole) their lands.
Lucie Washakie is the great granddaughter of the last chief of the eastern Shoshone culture, Chief Washakie. A very wise and pacific man that could make a lot of alliances with the settlers. She is powerful and is raising 11 grandkids while having a very open energy. She told us about their traditions like typical dances, textiles and bead handcrafts. She brought historical pictures and notes and we spoke about the efforts they are making to reinforce their culture, like an app they developed for learning the language (you can download it with the name Newe Daygwap).
Larry Cesspooch is a member of the Ute culture (Utah's name come from here), he is a film maker, musician, painter and educator. He lives in the Uintah mountains reserve so we drove 3 hours to visit him at his house, where he blessed us in the sweat lodge and tipi. We talked about traditions like the bear dance , a very important dance related to his cosmologies and myths about the origin of the world. He also showed us hand crafts and textiles full of symbols and cultural meanings. You can check his website at https://www.throughnativeeyes.net/ I strongly recommend his TED talk.
With all this information I have all that I need for the mural design , taking in the history of the community, native cultures and understanding how this has changed over time ✍️
Part 4 - the mural
Finally, with the design built from local symbols and approved by the community, including members of native cultures, I painted this very long 200ft x 10ft wall 🎨 (over 2,000sqft!)
The challenges? 😱 A very texturized raw stone wall that absorbed paint like crazy. I used more than 100 spray cans for this mural. ❄️ Also a snow storm that stopped me at the middle of the painting, when I only had 1 week to finish it.
The nice part? 😍 The community involvement, specially all the kids that came and drew their favorite objects from the town.