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The Continuum

Su:dagi Haicu A:ga (Water’s Story)

On display November 8–17 

Su:Dagi Haicu A:ga translates to Water’s Story in the O’odham language, indigenous to the Sonoran Desert. It’s a two-part installation featuring a timeline mural by Dwayne Manuel and Thomas Breeze Marcus and hand-etched seashell artwork by Jacob Butler—all O’odham artists. The acrylic murals tell the story of water as it pertained to the Ancestral O’odham—also called Huhugam by the contemporary O’odham—the indigenous people who lived along the Gila and Salt rivers from about 300 to 1500 BCE. Featuring four mural panels, the timeline is meant to be read from right to left and features details that pay homage to the landscape of southern Arizona, including Camelback Mountain and the formations at Papago Park. The seashells came from a traditional O’odham site near Baja, Mexico, and Butler uses traditional acid-etch methods that have been passed down for centuries. 

The Story of Water

The mural panels of Su:Dagi Haicu A:ga (Water’s Story) tells the earliest story of water in the Salt River Valley. The first panel depicts an O’odham creation story, where Buzzard reached down with his wing to carve the valley, waterway, and mountains, creating the river and giving life to area. The second panel portrays an Ancestral O’odham farmer preparing for an upcoming harvest. And the third and fourth panels shows scenes from the pre-harvest and post-harvest time in the Valley. The shell ornamentation was traditionally worn by the Ancestral O’odham and is still used today by contemporary O’odham to show a connection to their ancestors and give respect to the water they depend on. The O’odham artists hope to educate the public about the early people who created the canals, how they did it, and what they grew. 

Artist Talk 

Time and location to be determined.



The Continuum was created specifically for the Arizona Community Foundation’s New Arizona Prize grant project. Individually, all three artists have an extensive background in art. Jacob Butler works for the Culture Resources Department for the Salt River Pima Maricopa Community. Butler is a two-dimensional painter and illustrator, as well as a traditional shell art maker. Dwayne Manuel received a master of fine arts from the University of Arizona in 2014 and is best known for his highly detailed drawings and graffiti murals. Manuel also teaches at Tohono O’odham Community College. Thomas Breeze Marcus is a two-dimensional painter and large-scale mural painter. He has exhibited his work at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA), the Heard Museum (Phoenix), and the Arizona Heritage Center (Tempe). Marcus and Manuel will show their work at Mesa Arts Center in spring 2020. Members of The Continuum have also shown their work at Sculptural Objects Functional Art and Design Fair (Chicago), the LA Art Show (Los Angeles), and CRUSH (Denver).



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