Choctaw Nation Regional Medical Clinic
In 2016, Amri Studio was asked to honor and celebrate in ART, the accomplishment of the CHOCTAW NATION in developing their own highly progressive healthcare system, and to create a striking point of PRIDE and an expression of deeply held tribal beliefs, while celebrating the Nation’s commitment to move into the 21st century.
We were also tasked with creating a landmark icon that was unusually long – 26’ -- and would serve to connect and bridge important areas of the building, providing interest and inspiration, a place to pause, reflect, and connect with Choctaw values and mission. Multiple layers of carved and etched crystal, some gold-and copper-leafed, were mounted in cherry hardwood brackets.
This luminous, almost holographic, and dimensional installation is a permanent-monument TRIBUTE. Across the full width of the mural we etched an unbroken visual timeline of past Choctaw healthcare facilities, from a wooden “sanatorium” in 1915 to converted gas stations, to the present modern, soaring LEED-certified “green” building. The older, disparate buildings are depicted as connected and of equal importance to the shiny new central clinic by a powerful focal point disc and “sun” or “ warrior shield,” which radiates a net of heavenly glowing stars -- a ONENESS of Spirit.
Accompanying words (in Choctaw and English), symbols, and images stir the heart, making the piece simultaneously practical and poetic. In one panel a joyful, young Choctaw girl in Native dress appears to be stepping out of the wall and into our world and her (and our) FUTURE. Just behind her protectively and proudly stands a beloved Tribal Elder and Clinic doctor, expressing “We support our community and our children to be free and strong; to govern their own bodies and to speak their truth, to fly into the future without taking leave of their past. We carry our values forward to MEND OUR WORLD.”
SIGNIFICANCE IN BIG PICTURE OF DESIGN- STORIES are important. The Nation took a risk in filling the entire clinic with a wide-ranging yet cohesive healing-art program of mostly Choctaw-created art. Beyond signage or more typical flat posters, the tribe invested in our permanent monument style sculptural installation that beams- “ALAKOFI - A place of healing.”
This installation is a giant visual STORY. It is with stories that we remember our deep hunger for meaning and purpose, and reaffirm our identity and values. Gratitude and reverence, connection, and intergenerational wisdom are expressed poetically and visually.
Our installation acknowledges what proponents of sustainability have long said: To save the Earth we must learn from Native Americans that we are all part of a single interconnected universe and treat each other and the earth with reverence. It is crucial, as Matthew Fox and Joseph Campbell have both said, that we remember our place as lovers and healers of the earth. We honor the ancient wisdom of indigenous peoples.
The present-day Choctaw’s ancestors walked to this part of Oklahoma along what we know as the heart-rending Trail of Tears. Their pride and passion for their tribal values and history drives their 21st century re-dedication to keep their Nation whole and thriving as they move into the future. It is a transcendent story of victory over adversity. “Stitched together by threads of relationship… No one who is Choctaw is ever alone - We are NATION.” We have much to learn from this ancient wisdom.