Archive for October 21st, 2015

The Enculturated White Man Exhibit

Enculturated White Man

EWM_04 Snakes and Tulips
129 1/2″ X 28 1/4″ X 18 5/16″

This piece is fourth in the series titled THE ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN: If Early America Had Embraced the Nobel Savage Instead of Trying to Destroy Them. The entire series can be viewed in the show YOU ARE ON INDIAN LAND, at the Museum of Northern Arizona beginning November 21.

Museum of Northern Arizona

3101 N. Fort Valley Road

Flagstaff, AZ 86001

The entire series can also be viewed at present on my website THE ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN.

The photo, the focal point of all the pieces in this series, is a found garage sale photograph of an unknown person seemingly taken early 20th Century. I altered the photo with color pencil by giving this person American Indian attire; as if he had embraced the Native American culture.

EWM_04-SnakesTulips-CU1-WP copy EWM_04-SnakesTulips-CU2-WP copy

Enculturated White Man

EWM_04 Snakes and Tulips
54″ X 33″ X 21 1/2″

Enculturated White Man

EWM_04 Snakes and Tulips
Altered found turn of the 20th century photograph. silk and cotton thread embroidery, buttons, silk ribbon, fur, silk, and cotton material

I chose Plains Indians-like dress and motifs for this man. I liked the original photo for his expression that suggests to me a man that would be comfortable with face paint, a top knot in his hair and layers of earnings.

Some years ago I was traveling a highway looking into the bright circle just above the horizon thinking it was the setting sun, but realized I was facing East and in my rearview was an equally large disk also just above the horizon. If it weren’t for the compass in my car, I would not know which was the sun and which the moon; the sun and moon were equally large and equally bright. Some time later I heard Joseph Campbell (THE POWER OF MYTH) speak of this phenomena and it’s mythological meaning for some indigenous people. He stated the sun and moon facing one another may symbolically represent the peak and balance of a person’s life. The sun, representational of the ego, and the moon, representational of feeling and intuition, are in perfect balance and equal power. Between the sun and moon represented in my piece shown here is the land between the two planets and on the land is fire (ego, aggression, power mongering) and tulips (quiet, peace, beauty). The man in this photo appears to be in top mental and physical form and, I assume, in balance with his emotional life.

I am interested in the lizard, snake and dragon as symbols of the fire of life. Life, like the dragon, burns and destroys. The horror is the fact of life eats on life for survival. I am fascinated with the Discovery Channel series “Naked and Afraid” for this reason. The program regularly cuts to snakes in the survivors’ path to intensify the drama of their search for water and animals to eat. The snake slithers in hidden places hunting food; the snake is, after all, just an intestine, the heat of its belly digesting other life forms. The man in this photo, framed by snakes, seems to know this but has reconciled emotionally with this cruel but necessary fact of life.

Mounted to the top of this frame are three posts supporting a badger skull. The badger is also a fierce animal and appropriate for the theme of this piece, that is “life eating life”. I was living in New Mexico when a friend of mine told me of a recent kill of a badger (possibly by her neighbor) she found on her property. I took it and buried the carcass in sand on my own property and let it set for critters to eat and clean the bones. Several months later I retrieved the skull and teeth which now crown this art piece some ten feet in the air.

With this body of work, THE ENCULTURATED WHITE MAN, I not only referenced mythical images and beliefs, there were times when I felt I was directly experiencing them in my own life.

copyright Tamara Ann Burgh all rights reserved, 2015

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