Shoots and thoughts on power

(above, Shoots, pencil on paper, 6 x 2", 2004)

I think this drawing I did last year, which I just entered into an exhibit called War & Peace '05, in New Jersey, is strangely reminiscent of the winning field corn exhibit at the Oley Fair, below. And it raises some of the same ambiguities of concept...of course, the corn actually is just that, field corn, and cannot be much else, unless you live in an area where, on Mischief Night, teens drive by and pelt the side of your house with shelled field corn...so it sounds like a mini tommy-gun.

Link to War & Peace '05: http://www.lambertvillepeace.org/artshow2005/

In Shoots, however, the shape is much more ambiguous as far as its actual form and meaning. Is it a group of bullets; an arsenal? Or is it simply some benign rows of grass, a meadow, or other growing thing? Don't both growing things and instruments of violence have a certain potential power inherent within them? I love this shape, because it can become SO many things, depending on slight changes of context, surface, color or composition. It could even be a stick of lipstick. Even so, everything I've mentioned holds a certain amount of power - potential or actual/kinetic. And thus I like it so: it is not just an icon, it is a polyglottal icon. It, itself, has great power too. Maybe it harks back to the ancient obelisk...which itself is related to phallic symbols, male-power and fingers-to-god. But I hope that my use of this symbol is not relegated to abuse of power, but a critique of power; sometimes by wit, sometimes by joking, sometimes by profundity. This will take some time...

Alicia J. Gierschick  – (Monday, 10 October, 2005)  

I was going to say that they reminded me of obelisks, but I see that you already mentioned that. :-) Did you know that there are as many Egyptian obelisks (the large, monumental ones, anyway) standing in the city of Rome as in the whole country of Egypt? However, one obelisk was returned to Ethiopia from Italy this year-- according to an article I read, the obelisk was looted by Italian troops in 1937, and has been in Rome ever since. The Italians promised in 1947 that they would return it, and they finally have. They had to break it into three pieces to transport it back to Ethiopia. (Not sure why-- if they could get it to Italy in one piece back in '37, why do they have to break it now?) But at least one obelisk is moving in the right direction; that is, back to Africa where it belongs.

Alicia J. Gierschick  – (Monday, 10 October, 2005)  

Me again. I just found the Egyptian State Information Services website, which gives the following info on the original meaning of obelisks: "The obelisk, called TEJEN in the sacred language of the ancient Egyptians, was a term which was synonymous with (protection) or (defense).
The needle of stone had the function of perforating the clouds and dispersing negative forces that always threaten to accumulate, in the form of visible storms or invisible ones, and was placed over the temple as a symbol of a petrified ray."

This site confirms that there are only 27 Egyptian obelisks in the world, and only six of them are still in Egypt.

www.sis.gov.eg/obelisk/int1.htm

GIERSCHICK  – (Tuesday, 11 October, 2005)  

Hi Alicia...I've enjoyed your information on obelisks...opens up some new thoughts on the image's importance and meaning. It's interesting to note that, even going back so far as the aboriginal meanings/source of "obelisk" -- tejen, in Egyptian -- the object still signifies humans' desire to find power within ourselves, to fend off whatever evils we see outside of ourselves. And that's the incredible Newness of the Gospel, isn't it? That we can enter the freedom of not having to produce any power out of ourselves -- indeed, realizing the sheer inefficacy of it -- and take hold of the unbounded Power that is God, through the Messiah, for us. I've been thinking about power a lot recently -- where it comes from, in whose hands it really is, and how "Americhristendom" abuses it, etc. But I do really love the idea of a "petrified ray!"

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