September 17, 2007

Painter revitalizes Pima, Maricopa

Penrose Fulwilder connects art and life at Wild Horse Pass[I]t is the murals, paintings and sculptures that grace every nook and cranny of the reservations that speak the loudest about the preservation of a culture. A humble man, Fulwilder would be the last to admit that it is his works that stands out among the plethora of art gracing the reservations. This is because the tribe's most famous muralist was also the artist who illustrated the binded language workbooks for the O'odham-Piipaash Language Program in the early '90s that would begin the process of returning the Pima and Maricopa languages to the children of the reservations.

His largest and most prolific piece is a story mural painted on the ceiling of the rotunda of the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort on the Gila River Reservation. The focal point of the resort's multi-million-dollar facility, the mural consists of 10 separate panels and took months to complete. It depicts the creation stories of the two tribes and their art, as well as their art, hunting, games, songs and dances. One panel pays tribute to the elders and another comes full circle back to the future of the tribe, the youth.

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