It is the stories of family, history, and identity that brought me to “Bloodline”. It is a long trail of my Native American history, my bloodline. To be ‘on the Rolls’ as an American Indian you must prove a quantum of blood verified through birth and death records until you match up to a name on the official “Dawes Rolls.” As I began walking through the past to document my blood, with the names and some faces, I wanted to hear them speak and tell their story. I wanted them to be counted.
The figures walk across a Locust tree base that came down in a storm. It is cut lengthwise exposing the rough center revealing the lines that show its life and history. I de-barked the exterior but kept the curve of the tree and its raw surface. You see the figures walking through time—their life above and the tree’s life below.
The Cigar Figures come from a childhood Native American story that my mother told of the “Stick People.” The “Stick People” would run through the night and call your name; if you went with them, you were never heard from again. She never described the figures and I was always drawn to the idea of what they looked like. The Cigar Figures are my reimagining of that story, now a story of family and my past—a complicated narrative of loss, survival, and resilience. The figures are made from real cigars and found sticks cast in bronze. The faces are the ancestors from my past as far back as I can trace.
There are sections for each generation, beginning with my children. Though I only have two, there are five figures. Each life is counted and the children who did not survive are remembered with a place on the wood in history; their forms small and their heads bowed. Next, I have my section with my sisters and brother followed by my mother’s and father’s history weaving back and forth. When hung, the light casts a shadow of the figures on the wall. This shadow represents memory for me. Like a shadow, these memories cannot be held, and in the end, we are all only a shadow in history, shadows on this earth.
Bronze, Patina and Locust Wood
29″ x 22′ x 9″, 2015
When I was young we lived on a mountain in Cherokee, NC, my father taught at the Indian School for several years. My memories have no words from that time just images, some of running the woods, others of going up and down the winding stairs to go to school. The “Gathering” is my interpretation of that part of my life; my coming home to the place and to the people I am a part of.
The wood is from a Locust tree. It is cut lengthwise; it exposes the rough center of the tree and the lines, the lines of the tree show its history. This wood is cut on the angle to be the mountain I lived upon, and the mountain we all climb during life.
When “Gathering” is hung the light cast’s shadows of the figures on the wall, these shadows represent for me memories. Memories cannot be held they have no words, and in the end, we are all only a shadow in history, shadows on this earth.
I used my Cigar Figures to represent my family in “Gathering”. These figures come from a Native American story of my childhood that my mother told of the “Stick People”. The “Stick People” would run through the night and call your name, she never described the figures and I was drawn to the idea of what they looked like for most of my life. The Cigar Figures are my reimagining of that story, now a story of family and my past. The figures are made of real cigars and found sticks. I create molds of the cigars and then cast them and the sticks in bronze. The faces are of the people from my past and my present.