Friday, November 25, 2016


Both 4" x 4" woodcut stamps, printing with black oil-based ink on Bristol paper and hand-colored with watercolors.

The term "totem" has taken on a number of meanings that depart from the original Ojibwe, in which they refer to sacred symbols that represent a particular tribe. Nowadays many Westerners have come to regard totems as personal, spiritual guides, often symbolized by a particular animal. The broader interpretations and usages are perhaps most colorfully exhibited by Cirque du Soleil's use of "Totem" as title of their show that employs music, dance, acrobatics, and elaborate costumes and settings to connect themes in human evolution to multicultural creation stories.

Over the last couple years two babies were born to a good friend of mine, and I created small, square prints (Year of the Goat and Monkey and Scorpion) to celebrate their entry into the world. However, these two lucky boys have two older siblings, a big brother and sister, who I was not fortunate enough to know when they were born, but I have since had the honor of meeting in person.

The two prints featured here are for them. As in the first two prints, these "totems" attempt to creatively combine their Western and Eastern astrological signs. However, as they are for two older children who have already seen a number of seasons, formed strong, unique personalities, and have looked me in the eyes, I felt compelled to focus on faces, or perhaps masks, for this imagery. We are all so much more than a laundry list of our abilities and experiences. Totems can represent that greater wholeness.

“A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke” -Vincent Van Gogh 

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