This winter I had the opportunity to see "The Sleeping Lady". This is a small ceramic figurine found in Malta in the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, a prehistoric underground burial site. She is dated between 3600-2500 bc. This sculpture is snapshot of a person from this planet, our same home, who lived more then 4500 years ago. Her face, her hair, her shape helps us to see these people. Her body position and the visible strain of her weight on the bed give us clues to how the artist thought. The construction of the bed and the pattern of her skirt along with the figurine itself give us insight to the tools and techniques used. How were these sculptures made? What was life like for these people? These artifacts give us a little peek into the world that existed thousands of years ago.
I live in rural Humboldt county. My house is on a dirt road and when you go outside you are standing on dirt, or rocks ,or grass and looking at trees. I grew up in San Francisco but my kids grew up in the country. When my daughter was about two and a half years old we were visiting grandma in “the city”. We went for a walk to the corner store. As we walked hand in hand down the street my daughter looked up at me and asked “ Are we outside?”.
Are we outside?
That is such a good question and it has dogged me ever since that day. How do we fit in this world? We have been here a long time. We have been drawing pictures and making sculptures for more then 50,000 years. That gives us occupancy of this place. We are indigenous. We are supposed to be here. The cement on the city sidewalk is just as natural as the haystack of wooden sticks that make up the woodrat’s nest behind my garden shed.
I know, I know, this sounds like an excuse for all of the shitty stuff that we have done and keep doing. That is not my intent. For goodness sake, because of us, now even the Dusky-footed woodrat is in trouble.
But I need to explore this connection. Everything here is made from the same building blocks. We can manipulate the elements but everything is constant. We are part of the closed system.
When I take a piece of manufactured steel and forge it I feel like I am crossing time, reaching backwards to the place where people dug iron oxide from the earth and melted it into iron. My goal for the next few months is to try to pull figurative art from manufactured steel by forging.
I’ll let you know how it goes.