Inspired by the Celestial Tree (Tree of Life) that was in the Skyworld (and later a “Tree of Light” that was on the earth), in the Iroquois creation story.
In this case, the large antler medallion has a cell tower as the main “tree” with WiFi symbols and outlet plugs as part of the branches. Today, a lot of information flows through the sky via cell towers. It helps keep us connected to each other and can aid us in sharing important information. I made beads out of antler, some are pots/vessels, others are dyed and then carved designs into them based off of symbols associated with the technological world we live in. I used those symbols to create effigy figures out of Bluetooth symbols, my new design “zig zag man” (more on that to come), and also included here are WiFi symbols, data symbol, charging bolts, battery charging symbols etc. Our ancestors decorated their objects with symbols and designs that aligned with their current time. That is another reason that I used these symbols that are an everyday part of our lives. I thought it interesting to incorporate USB connecting cables and headphone wires as the “thread” for some of the beads. Then used ear buds as ornamental beadlike additions. I added some blue antique beads to symbolize the old ways and the newer ways (my antler beads). Overall, this piece is simply a continuation of our story as we evolve and live today.
To and Fro in 2020 (2020)
Carved antler. Various technological waste materials.
This small sculpture depicts how I’ve felt over the entire year of 2020 going from home to my day job and vice versa. Like most people I switched to remote work for some of the time. But then as I had to physically go into work more often, I found myself feeling tangled up with my: work laptop, my personal laptop, personal phone, work cell, headphones, webcams and all the chargers for each of these devices. Upon arrival to either work or home, it was constant unloading the backpack of all these things and re-setting up my portable office over and over again. I did this daily and still do. That’s why on this piece, there is a charging cord wrapped around the figures neck and around the body, almost a suffocating feeling sometimes. The top portion is obviously made of charging blocks and related cables. The legs are antler, I went with polka dot shorts just because I though it was a little funny. The bottom legs are my new design, “Zig Zag Man”, which is based on how I feel about my work sometimes. My work is more consistently zigging and zagging away from the normal Iroquois antler carving. The circular shape around the head of the figure symbolizes the sky world. I feel as artists the gifts we have come from there. So it’s best to always stay in tune with well being so you can stay connected.
Carved antler of various deer species. Mixed media, current technological waste materials.
It relates to how children have phones & tablets placed in from them at very early stages of their life. Watching videos for prolonged periods of time can be common. As a dad it is something we are conscious of with our kids. The effects of these devices at unhealthy clips is something most people are aware of.
And the different elements on this work depict the things to combat the overuse of electronics. Things that are important to us as indigenous people: On the front, a functional rattle with family effigies points to spending time together, traditional songs, dancing and language. The basket weave underneath the chaotic triangular play symbols directs us to traditional arts as an important foundation. The footrest is a carved turtle shell, to suggest grounding to the earth, respect and teaching.
On the back: My new take on the Tree of Light, which according to a version relayed by Arthur C. Parker was said to be a crab apple tree in a Seneca version. A common 🍏 design is seen. I incorporated carved antler beads as ornamentation as well. The charging cords show how we can get wrapped up in the online world. I call it “Unsubscribe” because I think we have to unsubscribe to the idea that just because we live in this current tech age, that it’s normal and ok to sit our children in front of these things for long periods of time. Like all things, balance is important. The cradleboard is removable from the base. It just sits on it.