When you live in the mountains, animals found or hunted, become material for use. I was given a bobcat hide and skull. The skull is mosaic work with seed beads. The hide was already tanned, so I used cardboard and a fine black fabric and mounted it, as a work of art. When I use animal flesh and bone in art, for me it’s a very unique position of honor. Not everyone treats death with respect and dignity. Many toy with it as if it were a power to wield like a light sabre. What remains to still tell a story, yet has life. I was inspired for the skulls by the message in two different books. First, the Bible, the story of the Valley of the Dry Bones :
1) The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.
2) He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.
3) He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”
4) Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!
5) This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.
6) I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'”
7) So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.
8) I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
9) Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.'”
10) So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet– a vast army.
11) Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’
12) Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.
13) Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them.
14) I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.'”
And then the next book: Women Who Run With the Wolves, by Clarrisa Pinkola Estes. Here’s a link that leads to a nice summary of the story. http://www.soulcollage.com/seena-frost/articles-by-seena/archetype-of-the-singer-the-singer-over-the-bones
Some people get righteous with me, telling me I shouldn’t do this kind of art because I’m not from a tribe in America. Well, I’m from a lineage of tribes, over and over. I’ve lived on the Rez, and I’ve been an outlaw. I’ve survived rough living styles and have witnessed miracles. I’ve heard angels sing and call my name, and I had an angel (2, a tall white (white) man, and a small black girl in roller blades) (that’s a whole other story) anoint my forehead before a dangerous adventure happened. I’ve seen the light in many variations, and I’ve seen darkness as well, and I know both intimately, but I have a preference for the light, because it bears more innocence, it is less dominated by the flesh, no matter what that flesh is made of, or how it is made.
So, you who want to be righteous about it. Oh well. Take it up with the Creator.
I learned a lot in the ‘spiritual realm’ and I have faced down a demon running a church. An evangelical church. I am not a whimpy christian just because I believe in Christ Jesus. The power I have seen, has shown me and nothing will ever change my mind or heart. SO..c’est la vi!
Sorry, I just had to go there. Anyway, the dead, deserve reverence in respect to their story. Every life has a story. We are not mortal for no reason, because the history of our existence is marked in the vibrations of everything. Our atomic energy goes somewhere, marked by the experience of having been us.
Early in my learning this art, there was a very deep and significant spiritual event. I had to skin this beaver that was given to me. It is the first beaver skull I mosaic worked. It has a chipped tooth and is worked mostly in bugle beads and in black. During the work of cleaning the animal, I was given a vision of trading places with the creature, suffering my own flesh for the needs of others. It gave me a deeper revelation of the experience of Jesus as well. But it was taught to me by way of a much different culture than that of the Jewish, or American or European Christian. It was taught to me by the Creator. So for me to do something like this, commercially, demands the use of synthetic animal skulls. It’s not something I’m going to mass produce, like other bead works I might or have done.
Well, that was quite revealing, but hey, it’s part of who I am.