Totem #3 – Stacked Bighorns
This is the third in my ongoing “Totem” series, and unquestionably the most ambitious. 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.
I’ve had several memorable encounters with bighorn sheep in the wild, and they never fail to impress with their nimble sure-footedness. Though this arrangement deliberately strains credulity, it is only a mild exaggeration of the death defying feats these animals perform every day as they scrabble up and down the precipitous rock faces they amazingly call home.