Totem #1 – Stacked Cardinals
This is the first piece in my ongoing “Totem” series. Modern reinterpretations of the Native American Totem Poles of the Pacific Northwest, these pieces offer impossible arrangements of common animals and birds. Isolated from their natural environments and portrayed in a whimsical, tension-filled, and surreal context, the viewer is challenged to reconsider the subjects in a new light. Native Americans traditionally used animals as potent symbols for their own human talents, frailties, fears, and desires, and despite the distance we have placed between ourselves and the natural world today, animals still play just as significant a role in our daily lives, from logos to add campaigns. These pieces ask the viewer to explore what wildlife means in today’s world, to consider the fragile balance we strike in our own lives between man and beast, and to ponder the plight of a natural world teetering on collapse.
This piece was inspired by numerous encounters with one of the most iconic birds native to North America. I’ve observed cardinals in Mexico, the American Southwest, and the East Coast, and they never cease to amaze and delight with their bright flashes of color.