Cacomixtle del Desierto Sonorense
Collaboration with Samirah Steinmeyer
"What exactly is a cacomixtle? This animal has a history of being misidentified as humans have attempted to categorize it based on its appearance. Tlahcomiztli means ‘half cat’ in Nahuatl, and in English it is known as the Ringtail Cat. Its genus name is Bassariscus from the Greek word ‘bassaris’ meaning fox. These names don’t quite capture this animal’s identity, as it is neither a cat nor a fox. It simply is its own distinct self, within its own genus.
Cacomixtle and I have several things in common, one of which is that subtle ambiguity of identity. I am half Mexican, half American and based on my name and my appearance nobody ever suspects that I have deep roots in Sonora, Mexico. Cacomixtle and I can both be found in the canyons and mountains of the Sonoran Desert. We both love solitude and eating prickly pear fruit/tunas. We feel at home on both sides of the US-Mexico border, not completely belonging to either country or culture.
I have grounded the Cacomixtle sculpture in the rocky canyons of the Sonoran Desert, in a landscape where we both belong. Geology, landscapes, and plant life are common themes in my pottery. I gathered micaceous schist from the stream beds of several nearby canyons where I frequently hike and where Cacomixtle lives. I added these minerals to clay, marbling it in with other clay layers to form a patterned base for the sculpture. The random marbled patterns created by the compression, folding, and stretching of the clay/earth layers represents the geology of this region. The sculpted saguaros and the color palette represent the plant life and visual character of this desert. The cacomixtle's eyes are prominent, absorbing and reflecting all of this culture and landscape outwards. We are attentive and contemplative." - Samirah Steinmeyer