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This sculpture is titled "Joyous
Noise." It is 48 inches in diameter and made
from the following materials: Feathers from macaws, parrots, conjure,
peacock and parakeet.
Mastodon ivory from Siberia, abalone, gourd, heart of agave bloom stock,
fiber of agave leaves (for cordage), small amount of sawdust from
African mahogany and conifer resin from Sky Island area of S.E. Arizona.
This piece is now in a private collection.
I was asked how long it takes to make a
piece like this and I answered that first it took five years of
collecting feathers to have enough to start. Then I was lucky enough to
have meantime been growing gourds, attending the annual gem show for
years before acquiring the ivory....the abalone drifted in from some
gypsy trader. The agave blooms once at the end of its life then dies and
the stalk has to be collected and dried for a year. While that is going
on the leaves have to be pounded to extract long, thin fibers which have
to be washed and twisted into rope. The leaves are full of caustic pulp
and difficult to work with deformed hands that do not accept gloves. The
inside of the gourd is painted using paint from charcoal or ground
minerals and spit...applied with a brush made from my own hair, a stick
and fiber from some desert plant. The design is a traditional S.W.
design originating in a state of shamanic trance.
Once the gourd is painted and the core
filled (sorry, secret technique) construction can begin, but getting the
resin requires several days at altitudes above 8000' to collect enough.
Every feather has to be set individually, which is to say there is no
easy way to pre-drill all the holes and place
the feathers. This part of construction takes a good 3 weeks.
So all-in-all I'd say it is well over 200
hours...probably closer to 300 hours per piece. Much of that time is
spent in "discovery" of materials, making friends with giants of the
forest, working in the garden, harvesting the bones of desert fauna,
etc. Very organic, meditative communions with the Earth. It is still,
however, part of the process and as necessary as the design, which has
to evolve during construction...I never know where the piece is going
Since acquisition of feathers is the crux
of the process...I appeal to bird owners and/or breeders to collect
molted feathers and donate them or sell them at reasonable prices. Bird
sanctuaries I am happy to build sculptures for to sell on their websites
as fundraisers in exchange for leftover feathers. Let's talk, but don't
wait too long.
Look for the last in this trilogy of
sculptures sometime after the first of the year. It is a memorial for a
fallen angel titled "Resurrection" and (I hope) addresses how spiritual
love binds hearts even when individual rituals may tend to divide.
Om Shanti Om,
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This is a
medicine mandala. This one is titled "Epiphany." It is 50 inches
tall and 42 inches wide. Like every one
of its predecessors, this piece was designed to be placed in nature on a
site sacred because of its lack of intrusion by humans, including audible
All the feathers I use come from from local owners and/or caretakers of exotic birds who
collect molted feathers and sell them to me. It took over three years to
obtain enough macaw feathers for this piece.
The feathers radiate from a hub made from a gourd I grew. The gourd is
painted on the inside in an archaic design from indigenous peoples of the
American Southwest. This is done so the fragments of the gourd when it has
broken up from exposure will resemble pottery shards. This acts as a sort
of footprint and continues to reverberate with the prayer that was said at
the time of installation. The pigment for the paint came from ochre I
collected and ground on a mano and metate (Native American
grinding stones); the brush was made from a stick, my hair and indigenous
Other materials include: abalone, fiber from the pads of prickly pear
cactus, and resin from conifers in the Mts. of S.E. Arizona.
this piece was designed to create intense illusions of spinning and
strobing. By staring at the center at eye level and concentrating mental
energies in the center of the forehead, a person will start to experience
these illusions after a few moments. Any familiarity with visual
meditation techniques will heighten the awareness of these illusions and
can result in total loss of any sense of form as a person's vision becomes
a mass of shifting colors and patterns. It is best to stare at the piece
with the eyes "looking" at the center, but "focusing"
on the four red feathers in the back. Naturally, in three dimensions it is
a lot easier to experience these effects.
It is my intent as an artist to create beauty and open the mind by
utilizing materials that would either be discarded or that don't
immediately bring to mind function; such as prickly pear pad fiber for
rope, or dead heart of agave. Life is a transitory reality that is full of
beauty and opportunity that is often never perceived by people
participating in it. I have tried here to create something that makes
ordinary people aware of possibilities they may not have otherwise
considered. And to send a personal message that it is not necessary to
conform to popular mediums or rigid ways of perceiving what art or
communication is, while at the same time creating a very light footstep as
far as resource depletion or pollution goes.
Although this piece was given to someone else, traditionally I place them
in nature because I believe in a Divine Creative Energy and this belief
leads me to believe that the best of my work can be offered as a private
prayer and will be appreciated.