Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Spears


I love sculptural containers such as amphora, urns and even boxes. I’m especially fond of the mixed media boxes of Joseph Cornell and Greek amphorae. The ancient Egyptians also made a fascinating assortment of containers for things such as unguents and ointments.   In my series about shields and modes of shielding I created this drawing with Prismacolor pencils on colored pastel paper with the idea of containment and safety in mind. The shapes are contained and shielded from a menacing spear.  I wanted to have an overriding sense of transparency on the frontal plane and more of a notion of opacity on the secondary plane. Delicacy plays its role here as well and so does the sense of movement.  The rounded shapes are quite fragile and are reminiscent of balloons. They are juxtaposed against the angular spear shape that twists and moves through the composition. The balloon shapes are being shielded yet they are still threatened by the presence of the arrow-like spear. Several years before I did this drawing I had my first interaction with shielding and spears.  Prior to that I had only thought of spears as powerful objects that existed primarily in a museum.  When I stayed on Elcho Island or Galiwin’ku as it is known locally, in Arnhemland, Northern Territory, Australia the Yolngu people where still hunting and defending themselves with spears.  They were also used as weapons.  It was a transformative moment in my life when I witnessed spears being used in the present day, in an attempt to attack a friend and my husband.  The spear yielding man was drunk and angered beyond belief.  He had lost all sense of self-control and all of his anger was being aimed along with the spear at the dwelling that my husband and his friend were inside of. They were captive for what seemed like hours but they were never harmed.  I was originally drawn to the island by stories of how people in the community still hunted and fished with spears.  Never did I imagine that an angered individual would take up his spear against a loved one.  Gradually, the community elders were able to mitigate the situation and it slowly dissipated. I had learned an unimaginable lesson—spears aren’t just objects in a museum; they are still currently being used by many different cultures.  They are beautiful, powerful, and potent and yes, they can still be very scary!

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