Scholars will present their poetry, film, photography and philosophy from their fieldwork in the Mesa Verde region as part of Sushi in Cortez May 6-9, with a public presentation May 9. Participants include Steve Wolverton, associate professor of geography, and Melinda Levin, professor of radio, television and film.
– Faculty members from the University of North Texas and other universities and colleges around the nation will present their poetry, film, photography and essays inspired by the Mesa Verde region in a new exhibition and book.
The Sushi in Cortez exhibition will take place May 6 - 9 (Wednesday – Saturday) at UNT on the Square, with a public presentation at 6 p.m. May 9. The event coincides with the release of the book Sushi in Cortez: Interdisciplinary Essays on Mesa Verde (University of Utah Press), edited by former UNT English lecturer David Taylor, now a visiting assistant professor at Stony Brook University, and UNT associate professor of geography Steve Wolverton.
Cropped image by Steve Bartolph
Other participants include:
• Melinda Levin, UNT professor of media arts
• Rob Figueroa, former UNT associate professor of philosophy, now at Oregon State University
• Steve Bardolph, associate professor of design at the University of Minnesota – Duluth
• Porter Swentzell, assistant professor of Institute of American Indian Arts
The area, which is in Colorado and Utah, inspired poetry by Taylor; an 8-minute film by Levin; photographs by Bardolph and essays by Wolverton and the other participants.
The quirky title comes from the fact that the world is so globalized.
“You can go to Cortez, Colorado — this remote place — and have sushi,” Levin said. “The title really encapsulated that.”
The trips were inspired after Levin, Figueroa, Taylor and Wolverton were speaking at a panel about research as storytelling in Victoria, Canada, when an audience member from a First Nations tribe said he wanted practical advice.
The incident made them think about what they really cared about. They decided they needed to go back into the field and chose Mesa Verde, famous for its archaeology and indigenous population. They made two trips in 2011.
For her 8-minute film, Levin experimented away from the usual documentary films that rely on interviews. Instead, she wanted to focus on the area’s diversity — from its touristy parts to its ragged areas — and she drew on the sounds of its people, animals and nature.
“I was really interested in the issue of memory and how you define home and what does tourism do to a place,” she said. “It’s a very different film for me to make.”
Wolverton said the trip caused him to rethink his past methods of archeology — such as how archaeologists interface with local peoples, such as Native Americans.
“This was not a creative process for me,” Wolverton said. “This was a self-reflection process. It was one of the most enriching experiences in my career.”