Today’s blog is written by Lisa Falk, lead curator for ASM’s exhibit Through the Eyes of the Eagle: Illustrating Healthy Living.
In light of staggering statistics on obesity and diabetes, Arizona State Museum partnered with university and community organizations to bring to Tucson an exhibit with a healthy message. If you haven’t had a chance to see Through the Eyes of the Eagle: Illustrating Healthy Living, come in the next few weeks to see what we created as a community working together. The exhibit closes January 11th.
Planning for the project began three years ago through a series of community-wide meetings that included university representatives, Native and non-Native educators, public health workers, Tohono O’odham community members, museum specialists, and others. All came together to discuss the importance of addressing a critical community need — healthier living — through a traveling exhibit of artwork from a children’s book series called “Through the Eyes of the Eagle”, and to brainstorm about expanding the exhibit and potential accompanying programs. The ideas shared formed the basis for what Arizona State Museum has offered.
Through community input, the exhibit itself was expanded beyond presenting just the traveling artwork. Overwhelmingly, the number one interest was to include a more local perspective, local Native voices, and local objects and organizations. We partnered with the Tohono O’odham Community Action to include the story of how they are using knowledge from the past to create a healthier future for the O’odham. We worked with the College of Public Health and American Diabetes Association to broaden the information and activities about diabetes and prevention. We included cases with ASM objects and expanded our collections to include skateboards designed by Native artists in order to tell the story of how skateboarding is creating healthy teen communities on reservations. And more.
There was an expressed desire for us to create a book that looked more like southern Arizona and that would appeal to teens. Local Native artist and educator Ryan Huna Smith and I created It’s Up 2 you!, a free comic book. The digital comic includes audio in English, Spanish and O’odham and a healthy challenge game. Available as a free app on iTunes and as a website version at healthypima.org.
Programs included a large cultural health fair that was bustling with activities including multicultural dance performances, movement classes, Native youth skate boarding demos, cooking demos, a bike rodeo, and discussions and activities related to nutrition and physical activity. All ways to jump start your commitment to a healthy lifestyle and promote diabetes awareness and prevention. Other programs offered were lectures, films, library outreach presentations and an engaging K-12 fieldtrip experience. We are also collecting survey data about what people know about diabetes prevention and how these programs and exhibit may have helped expand folks knowledge or make them feel more committed to a healthy lifestyle.
Dynamic campus and community partnerships made possible the depth of the exhibit and the creativity and diversity of our related programming. Collaborations take time to develop and nourish and require trust, respect, and flexibility. This collaborative project resulted in a richer visitor experience around the topic of health and culture, and for me provided new and on-going relationships to continue building on. Thank you.
Project collaborators included:
College of Education’s World of Words Library. Two of the four books that make up the Through the Eyes of the Eagle: Illustrating Healthy Living for Children series are on display in the Worlds of Words Library at the UA College of Education.
Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. Agnes Attakai served as a consultant for exhibit and comic book content. She also helped with outreach presentations and co-sponsored two related public lectures.
American Diabetes Association, Tucson Chapter. Alicia Eller lent her expertise to exhibit information and ADA participated in the health fair.
University of Arizona College of Agriculture. The Extension Office and Meat Science Lab offered nutrition activities and food demonstrations at the health fair and a buffalo tasting at a film program.
Native Education Alliance, a group of Native American educators and others working on Native education, provided contacts and insight for the exhibit, related programs, and K-12 fieldtrip programs.
Pima County Health Department is hosting It’s Up 2 You! on their website. In addition, through their Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant, generously covered the costs of advertising for the exhibit and the health fair and printing of the comic book.
Tucson Indian Center organized a 5K fun run/walk and helped with other aspects of the health fair. TIC’s youth group served as consultants on the It’s Up 2 You! storyline.
University of Arizona Hanson Film Institute is a long-term partner with ASM on the annual Native Eyes Film Showcase, which this year highlighted several films dealing with Native health and fitness issues.
Tohono O’odham Community Action (TOCA). Terrol Dew Johnson, director of TOCA, curated a part of the exhibit about how TOCA is revitalizing traditional farming and dietary practices. Members of the Young O’odham United Through Health program helped with exhibit curation and starred in a related video.
Ha:san Preparatory and Leadership School teachers Landon Walls, Janice Ramon and Lois Liston helped with translations and provided recording engineering and editing for the digital comic book. Co-author/illustrator Ryan Huna Smith is a faculty member. Students served as consultants on the It’s Up 2 You! storyline and provide voices for the audio.
Amphitheater School American Indian Club Students from the American Indian Club served as consultants on the It’s Up 2 You! storyline.
Pima County Public Library A teen group at the Quincie Douglas branch served as consultants on the It’s Up 2 You! storyline. Other PCPL branches hosted museum outreach programs during their story time programs.
Objective Coders. University of Arizona students Tom Smallwood and Cody Jorgensen, who run their own I.T. development firm, designed the It’s Up 2 You! mobile app and website version.
My partners at Arizona State Museum included Davison Koenig, Andrew Higgins, Dr. James Watson, Darlene Lizarraga, Teresa Moreno, Lisa Zimmerman, Whitney Klotz, Annamarie Schaecher, Rachel Paz among others and student interns Hannah Mills, Virkinee Hanessian and Marsha Burrola, and volunteer Ellen Blumberg among many others. The UA Foundation Center provided invaluable fundraising advice and direction.