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Charlene Teters | “Way of Sorrows”

Way of Sorrows looks starkly at the birth of savior mythologies, asking instead “on whose shoulders does responsibility not reside?” Could it be we are a species best defined as our-own-worse-enemy? Are we truly at a point of some fearing having a little less in order to welcome the stranger who has nothing: no earthly possessions, no place to call home, no place of safety or ceremony? Are we again out of complacency, inaction, cheerleading or silence, building silos of hate from fear?

From famine, disease, and empire, Native people have experienced forced migrations and marches. There have been many trails of tears and marches of death in this hemisphere since Columbus. The caravans of refugees coming to the USA’s southern border are part of an uninterrupted history of forced migrations and trails of tears. Those who deny these ‘huddled masses’ on the US-Mexico border do so, in part, to deny the obvious – manmade climate crisis may soon make refugees of us all. No wall will protect us from the wrath of a dying planet. Walls and armies, policies and politics, hate and dehumanization aimed at hoarding the idea of ‘The Other, The Temporary’ are a fool’s errand in the face of impending global disaster.

Click the images to expand and zoom in.

Way of Sorrows seeks a spirit of hope, represented through photo murals of the artist robed in silver and gold emergency blankets like those given to the desperate, separated, forgotten and interned refugees around this planet. This is a new myth of ancient vision and wisdom; the mother-savior – Our Lady of Survival.

Hope, that we can finally be seen as human beings by each other, and build a future for our collective descendants out of love and respect. Surely, we are all canaries in a mine of our own digging.

— Charlene Teters


Charlene Teters (Spokane) is an artist, educator, and activist. Teters’ activism has led to a strong upswing in efforts to eliminate Native American mascots in the United States. Teters’ art has been featured in over 21 major exhibitions, commissions, and collections. Additionally, Teters was the first Artist-in-Residence at the American Museum of Natural History.

Learn more about Charlene’s work here.

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