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Rains for the Harvest

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In the center of the first floor of MacMillan Hall sits a large rectangular bronze statue. Upon close inspection, one would notice the graphic nature of the piece. One side, cast in bronze, is a figure lifting their plant-filled hands upward in a sort of ceremonial action. The figure is dressed in a shawl that rests atop a geometric dress and stands in front of a structure that seems to be a step pyramid. The opposite side depicts a golden stream that extends from the corn-field base upwards to the sky, dividing the two as it goes. On the side of the statue, there are steps that mimic the same step pyramid structure depicted on the front side. To commemorate the transformation of MacMillan Hall from the main hospital to the Center for American World Cultures, Rains for the Harvest stands to welcome anyone who enters.

The piece displayed in MacMillan is one of eight identical pieces scattered across the United States in places like Albuquerque, New Mexico. This work, in particular, was part of The Ohio Percent for Art Program that sets aside one percent of the building’s funds to dedicate to the arts. Created in 2001 by the artist Tammy Garcia, Rains for the Harvest is a dedication to the Pueblo peoples from which she is descended. Directly related to the famous Tafoya family of Santa Clara Pueblo, Tammy learned to perfect her craft from her own mother and grandmother. The Puebloans are Native Americans located in the Southwest of the United States. “Pueblo” being the Spanish word for “village” helps to describe not only the people but the settlement of houses they lived in, usually consisting of stone, adobe, and wood.

Popular since the early 90’s, Tammy Garcia has experimented with many forms of ceramics, bronze, and glass incorporating her rich heritage and style in each piece she crafts. In Rains for the Harvest, there are specific motifs and symbols that relate to the spiritual and physical world. The figure in the ceremonial outfit represents giving thanks to the creator for the gift of the harvest. The motifs of corn, clouds, rain, and lightning are all crucial elements to the fruitfulness of the people of Southwest America. The stepped relief represents the passage to and from the room used by Puebloans for meetings of religious or political nature; better known as the kiva. In this space, the physical and the spiritual worlds blend and interact creating a colorful spiritual experience for all who inhabit it.

The decision to erect a statue that encompasses the plentiful history of the Pueblo people inside of MacMillan Hall was not happenstance. Beginning as the main medical building on campus, MacMillan Hall was originally named after Wade MacMillan, the first medical director of Miami University, in 1948. After construction of the Health Services Center in 1999, Rains for the Harvest now stands as the billboard for the building currently in use as The Center for American and World Cultures. Many diverse student organizations have found their home in this building and many more will follow in their footsteps. Tammy Garcia’s statue prompts those who enter to remember the manifold histories of America’s colorful cultures.

 

 

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