New Works by Geri Montano
Curatorial statement: Traded Moons, an exhibition of drawings, collages, and works on paper by Geri Montano, explores the impact of sex trafficking and abuse within Native American communities. A 2007 report conducted by Amnesty International highlighted the wide scope of this issue, showing that one in three Native women will be raped in her lifetime and that they are 2.5 times more likely than women in the U.S. in general,to be victims of rape or sexual violence.
The work featured in Traded Moons makes visible the internalized trauma of sexual abuse, which is too often silenced by societal taboos. Montano’s work is populated by young girls in big-girl clothes –made up in garter belts, fishnets and oversized pumps, in a world in which they clearly do not belong. However, in their faces we see furrowed brows and looks of defiance; in their hands spears and other talisman of defense and protection. One is struck both by their vulnerability and strength. Working primarily on paper, the works are endowed with a sense of fragility echoing the innocence of these little warriors.
Blending iconography from Hopi, Navajo, Alaskan and Comanche cultures, Montano emphasizes the wide spread nature of this problem among Native American communities. Collaged are images from dominatrix catalogs,pornography magazines and texts related to sex trafficking. The repeating motif of the circle is used to symbolize the feminine and sacred. It also references the medicine wheel, underscoring the intention of these works to be part of a healing process.
While developing this body of work, Montano also conducted workshops with residents of the Freedom House, an organization dedicated to providing long-term care for survivors of sex and labor trafficking. The participants were encouraged to create works expressing their experiences, in an effort to both acknowledge their trauma while empowering them to be their own healers. The endemic nature of the problem explored in Geri Montano’s work is inextricably linked to complex histories surrounding the Native American experience in the United States (one borne with the violence and trauma inherent in the process of colonization). Sex trafficking is not an issue that the United States can continue to dismiss as a third world problem; it is an epidemic affecting the lives of Native women within its own borders.
-Adriana Griñó, Curatorial Programs Manager
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Traded Moons is made possible with the support of the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Native American Arts and Cultural Traditions grant program and Galeria de la Raza with special thanks to Freedom House and Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition.
Opening reception Saturday, April 7 @ 7:30pm - in conjunction with April's MAPP programming