This article was originally published on the blog of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the largest platform for contemporary architecture in North America. The 2017 Biennial, entitled Make New History, will be free and open to the public between September 16, 2017 and January 6, 2018. Form follows function—that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union. Frank Lloyd Wright may have famously said these words in 1908, but he was by no means the first to embody them. In fact, the deeper sense of unity that Wright sought in Modern architecture had existed centuries before his time as a guiding principle for Native peoples all over the world. The Tohono-O’odham Nation of the Sonoran desert is one of those groups whose spiritual and physical lives have remained deeply intertwined to this day, through living traditions of craft and environmental stewardship. “In the Tohono O’odham language, we have no word for art [...] Instead, Native people have always looked to create artful ways of living, seeking ways to blend beauty and usefulness,” the renowned Tohono O’odham basket-weaver, educator, and activist Terrol Dew Johnson has said.
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