Victor Masayesva Jr., American (Hopi), born 1951  

Ground Zero

  • Negative 1998; print 2007
  • Epson pigment print
  • 17 1/16 × 21 15/16 in.

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through the Harry Shafer Fisher 1966 Memorial Fund; 2007.37.2. ©Victor Masayesva Jr.

visibilityLook & Discuss

This print by Hopi artist Victor Masayesva Jr. addresses environmental concerns of the Hopi people.

explore the object

Rights to water and mineral resources in the Southwest have long been a source of confrontation between native and non-native cultures. Over time, native societies have been restricted to increasingly smaller reservations, most lacking access to traditional natural resources.

Ground Zero references the ongoing struggle of Native American people in dealing with pollution left behind on reservations, particularly the contamination of water sources. The Navajo aquifer, the sole source of water for the Hopi reservation, has been used by Peabody Energy to slurry coal, or carry coal waste, to the Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin, Nevada. Uranium mining and nuclear testing have also left high levels of radiation on Indian lands. This print poignantly touches upon the subsequent death toll from these activities.

meet the artist

Image 40 victormasayesva.jpg

Raised on Hotevilla, Third Mesa, in Hopi, Arizona, Victor Masayesva Jr. remained apart from his village throughout his high school and undergraduate years. He attended the Horace Mann School in New York City and received a BA in literature from Princeton before returning to his home state to study photography at the University of Arizona.

In 1980, he began to explore video, initially working with high school students to document the elders at Hotevilla as an educational resource for his people. Today he is recognized for his experimental style and ability to share the life and ceremony of the Hopi with insight and respect.

Masayesva has received many awards and accolades for his photography and film work and has exhibited both nationally and internationally at venues including the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Art Institute of Chicago.

learn more

Research the history of water and mineral rights in the Southwest to learn more about this troubling history. Consider the ongoing concerns of the peoples of the Standing Rock and Cheyenne Sioux nations concerning the recent installation of the Dakota Access pipeline.

Southwest: Economics