Totem #4 – Stacked Burrowing Owls
This is the fourth 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.
Though burrowing owls are not yet listed as endangered, they are a species of concern due to rapidly declining numbers. I am fortunate to live within walking distance of an active burrowing owl colony, and I have observed firsthand how fragile their survival can be. They rely on ground squirrels to dig their burrows, so commonly accepted and entirely legal squirrel abatement programs can have a devastating effect on the owls’ chances for survival. Protecting these owls is, one might say, a balancing act!