I'm really stuck on making prints of ammonites lately. I keep going over it in my mind, and I've decided that there are three main reasons why ammonites are captivating my interests at the moment:
1. They are extinct. They died out during the same mass extinction as the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. But obviously they aren't nearly as famous as the dinosaurs. Nonetheless, they were this whole category of animals that were incredibly plentiful and prolific, and they were wiped out. They were something beautiful and unique and very much alive, and now they are nothing more than impressions of shells. We don't even know what the soft parts of their bodies really looked like, and probably never will. Such a thing seems worth exploring, noting, and sharing with an audience.
2. When I look at fossils mainly found in museum collections, they are often fragments or pieces, and also often have scratch marks on or around them. I think about all the painstaking work scientists in the field have to do, carefully digging and then scratching around fossil in order to expose these precious pieces of the past. And it reminds me of what I do with my wood blocks; how I carefully carve out the impression of an image I have drawn, while deciding how much to let the knots and wood grain influence the final impression.
3. Ammonites are in a spiral shape, which is just, plain awesome. So many plants, animals, and other things found in nature, from spider webs to whole galaxies form spiral patterns. Spirals are both mathematical and lyrical. Bruce Nauman had the right idea.