/ Modified jul 11, 2013 4:28 p.m.

Public Artist Explores Ancient Connections

Projects show relations between desert inhabitants, environment, and sky.


We first met Chris Tanz in 2006 at the site of her then-recent Sun Circle public art installation along the Rillito River path.

Tanz, an artist who specializes in public art, says Sun Circle is a ceremonial structure that allows visitors to observe the sun’s movement along the horizon over the course of the year.

“We’re rather detached from these patterns, (and) don’t depend on them the way people used to,” Tanz says.. “We see few sunrises, few sunsets, but we don’t make the observations.”

Tanz’s most recent public art project, titled Joining Hands, is located adjacent to Julian Wash on the southeast side of Tucson. She says the arch is built from stone and metal features forming a series of figures holding hands. The work is inspired by the large Hohokam pots used in ceremonies by ancient inhabitants of the area along Julian Wash.

“My idea was to have a focal point for all this vast openness,” Tanz says.

Tanz says the holding hands motif also exemplifies the cooperation needed to complete such a large public art project.

“Economically, it involves all kinds of segments,” Tanz says. “Public art creates jobs and work during the construction process.”

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