Always Becoming

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Always Becoming
Always Becoming Facing West.JPG
ArtistNora Naranjo-Morse
TypeDirt, sand, straw, clay,
stone, black locust wood,
bamboo, grass, and yam vines.
National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C.

Always Becoming is an artwork created in 2007 by Nora Naranjo-Morse (born 1953), a Native American Potter and poet. She currently resides in Española, New Mexico, just north of Santa Fe and is a member of the Santa Clara Pueblo.


The sculpture consists of five separate sculptures, that make up a family.

Grounded in figures from Santa Clara Pueblo oral tradition the sculptures are named:

  • Father
  • Mother
  • Little one
  • Moon Woman
  • Mountain Bird

The sculptures were built in-situ over the summer of 2007, Nora Naranjo-Morse worked with her niece Athena Swentzell Steen and her husband Bill Steen who are experts at building structures with natural material, and the family of Don Juan Morales (Tepehuan) from the Mexican state of Durango, as well as many volunteers including museum staff and visitors.

Being strangers at the beginning of this journey, we came from distant places with the intent to build sculptures, and in the process built a family as well.

— Nora Naranajo-Morse, 2007 [1]


The Sculptures are made entirely of natural materials: dirt, sand, straw, clay, stone, black locust wood, bamboo, grass, and yam vines. These natural elements were selected to take on a life of their own and thus affect the sculptures over time. In this way the materials ensure the forms are 'always becoming'.


The five sculptures range in size from seven and a half to sixteen feet tall.

History and Location[edit]

On May 24, 2006, the National Museum of the American Indian announced that Naranjo-Morse had won its outdoor sculpture design competition. "Always Becoming" was selected unanimously from more than 55 entries submitted by Native artists from throughout the Western Hemisphere.[2]

During the summer of 2007, on the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC, Naranjo-Morse built a family of clay sculptures. The commissioned work is located on the 'Native landscape' at the museum's south entrance on Maryland Avenue S.W. near 4th Street and Independence Avenue S.W., Washington, D.C.

A public dedication, officially opening these public works of art, took place on September 1, 2007.

The sculptures are intended to disintegrate over time, and the lives of sculptures from the initial idea through the continued process of stewardship are being documented by Filmmaker Dax Thomas (Laguna/Acoma). As the sculptures disintegrate the films of their life will form a more permanent record of their existence and are therefore an essential part of the artistic process, and the work of art itself.[3]

Native culture and the environment served as the inspiration for the sculpture design. 'Always Becoming' will reflect themes of growth and adaptation and represent indigenous peoples' unique relationship to the environment, ... The sculpture's metaphor of home and family not only conveys a universal theme to all peoples, but also enhances the visitors' experience that they have entered a Native place when they step foot [sic] on the museum grounds.

— Nora Naranajo-Morse, 2007 [4]

See also[edit]


  2. ^ "Press | National Museum of the American Indian" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-01-10.
  3. ^ "quatica". Vimeo. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
  4. ^ "always becoming". Retrieved 2017-01-10.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°53′17″N 77°0′59″W / 38.88806°N 77.01639°W / 38.88806; -77.01639