Arts Writing

Through Ancestral Lands, Reading An Infected Sunset

Editor’s Note:

The following essay is composed of three excerpts from an audio diary recorded by Portland- based artist and poet Demian DinéYazhi’ while driving across the United States in the summer of 2018, reading from his celebrated book of poetry, An Infected Sunset, published earlier that year. Each excerpt is complete, and the format (i.e. capitalization and punctuation) has been carefully edited by DinéYazhi. The project was commissioned by The Ford Family Foundation, and edited by Stephanie Snyder. For more information about, and to support DinéYazhi’s poetry and artwork, visit:

All images: sacred, ancestral, Indigenous Land by Demian DinéYazhi’. Courtesy and copyright of the artist.

By Demian DinéYazhi’

: walking around tulsa 

i’m walking around downtown tulsa just left elisa after having dinner with lucas and his friend i believe the moon is full tonight i was walking down one of the streets and saw it peeking out behind some clouds now it seems to be ducking in and out from behind these dreamy clouds i’m walking back to my hotel room which is in an old official city building that has been converted into a hotel i drove an hour and a half from oklahoma city 

i’m walking around downtown tulsa and earlier today I was in oklahoma city nothing in this region seems that interesting except everything 


This essay was edited by Stephanie Snyder, John and Anne Hauberg Curator and Director, Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College, and appeared in FIGURING, a publication of The Ford Family Foundation. The annual arts journal (shifting title as it progresses) is part of the program element CRITICAL CONVERSATIONS, led by the University of Oregon with partners Portland State University, The Cooley Gallery, Reed College; and PNCA at Willamette University.

The inaugural publication is dedicated to notions of “figuring,” that is, the processing of a moment to inform a position from which to act, the presentation of a form, or expression of a body. By holding space for both indeterminacy and latent form, Figuring conjures histories and possible futures, lived experiences, and propositions for ways that ethereal matter might exist concretely or be allowed to endure as defined by its own logic.