Friday Staff Pick

It is the stone of the desert. It is the color of yearning. . . . Poke a shish kabob skewer through a globe at the Colorado Plateau and it will come out the other side on the Tibetan Plateau. More than all others, the cultures of Tibet and the native American Southwest have absorbed turquoise into their traditions, ceremonies, and folklore.
—Ellen Moloy
—Recommended by Gent, City Lights Books

The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone, and Sky

Ellen Moloy

In this invigorating mix of natural history and adventure, artist-naturalist Ellen Meloy uses turquoise—the color and the gem—to probe deeper into our profound human attachment to landscape.

From the Sierra Nevada, the Mojave Desert, the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Bahamas to her home ground on the high plateaus and deep canyons of the Southwest, we journey with Meloy through vistas of both great beauty and great desecration. Her keen vision makes us look anew at ancestral mountains, turquoise seas, and even motel swimming pools. She introduces us to Navajo “velvet grandmothers” whose attire and aesthetics absorb the vivid palette of their homeland, as well as to Persians who consider turquoise the life-saving equivalent of a bullet-proof vest. Throughout, Meloy invites us to appreciate along with her the endless surprises in all of life and celebrates the seduction to be found in our visual surroundings.

“The antibodies to doom, words and experiences that remind us of our vital connections to the natural world so that we might repair and revere them.”

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