Friday, January 18, 2008

A difference of perspective...

In the Shelter of Tsé Bit'a'í
pastel on 300gsm coldpress with added pumice ground
16.5x16.5 cm (6.5x6.5 in)

This outcrop in the southwestern United States is a wonderful formation, a worn, jagged line of basalt arising from a miles-long vertical dike cutting across the desert. This little outcrop juts up just to one side of the 1800 foot high volcanic core known to the Navaho as Tsé Bit'a'í, "Rock with Wings", and is considered part of one wing.

The shadow cast is of the huge rock herself, a craggy almost vertical mount that looks from a distance indeed like an immense flying creature just landed in the midst of the desert. She is a reminder to people to care for each other and their community.

In Navaho tradition, it is seen as the mother rock. According to the old stories, Tsé Bit'a'í was originally a great flying beast, perhaps a bird, perhaps not, who bore people to safety after they emerged from the lower level.

Every culture names things by what is important in their way of seeing. To whites, the rock looked like an ocean going clipper, thus they named it Shiprock. Which is how it appears on maps, a symbol of dominion.

I painted this last night after a strange interaction with some neighbors, people who make a point of referring to themselves as Christian but seem to have some trouble living the teachings of that faith. Too wound up to sleep, I painted to relax, and this emerged. Then I could sleep, having put something to rest.