Lessons From A Falling Star follows the story of Tamanowas (The Willamette Meteorite), which presumably landed in Canada and traveled to Oregon via the Missoula Floods at the end of the last ice age. Tamanowas is a sacred object used in ceremony by the Clackamas, now part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and the meteorite has sat in the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City for over a century as an object of curiosity. As the largest meteorite ever found in North America, Tamanowas has been peddled as a roadside attraction, floated down the Willamette River in Oregon for display at the Lewis & Clark Centennial Exhibition, sold, and donated to the AMNH in 1906—a half century after the Clackamas were forcibly moved off their ancestral lands.
Working with Grand Ronde youth and Chachalu Museum staff, Imatani used photogrammetry software to 3D-scan the meteorite inside the AMNH. An exact CNC-milled foam replica of the meteorite became the centerpiece for a series of photoshoots to recenter stories and desire, as well as respond to archival photographs that pose the meteorite as discovered. An additional tessellated 3D print of the meteorite is cast in aluminum and hangs in front of a wall painting showing the simulated water levels during the Missoula Floods, which would have buried the city of Eugene, Oregon and the respective atrium in 30 feet of water. The data for the elevation models is gathered via airplane using laser infrared and was accessible courtesy of the Oregon Department of Geology & Mineral Industries and GIS cartographer Daniel Coe.
This permanent public art commission at the University of Oregon sits on the unceded territory of the Kalapuya (also part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde) who have lived in the Willamette Valley since time immemorial.
Models/collaborators: Chris Bailey, Cheyanne Fasana, Justin Fasana, Tammy Fisher, Wocus Gibbons, Camas Gibbons, Andrea Grijalva, Nick Labonte, Tina Lara, Ayla Mercier, Bobby Mercier, Mason Mercier, Bethany McKnight, Harris Reibach, ChyAnne Schlappie, Cheyenne Simmons, Sophia Morning-Star Stewart, Travis Stewart.