“What is a country without
rabbits and partridges?
– Henry David Thoreau
Thoreau retreated into nature. My retreat here at the Wurlitzer Foundation is much more comfortable than Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond. But the time is almost over. It has been a very productive experience in many ways.
An unanticipated aspect is that I am easing into different subject matter in my work. Not leaving the nest metaphor behind, by any means, but adding and exploring other possibilities.
I’m not sure what is so compelling for me about petroglyphs, but I’ve decided just to go with it. They’re mysterious and beautiful, representing some of the earliest art created by human hands. They seem to be a narrative, perhaps a supplication, perhaps a celebration. Perhaps they are part of an educational sharing. We’ll never truly know. It’s their ancientness, mystery and elegance that makes my heart stop when I find one carved into a river rock near the Rio Grande, or on a cliff face soaring over the San Juan River in Utah.
During the last two years I have spent a lot of time looking at these rock carvings, etched into cliff walls all over the southwest. They are by no means exclusive to the Americas. Algeria has created Tassili National Park to protect the stunning petroglyphs left by early Saharan cultures. Many more exist around the globe.
Elegantly abstracted, the carvings represent the absolute essence of the creature they represent. One category includes odd, often geometric abstractions. Human figures, wild mountain sheep, jackrabbits and many other creatures are often carved, singly or in groups.
It seemed fitting to put the jack rabbit petroglyph on the rock face I created on canvas. They are are sensitive, graceful, and mysterious animals but not long lived. The juxtaposition of the ancient image with a modern creature intrigues me.