Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Kingsolver’

Kingsolver's Crocodile

I was going through my digital files and was reminded of this piece that I made for a show at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Crafts.  The exhibition was entitled “Visions from Voices” which featured visual art inspired by Kentucky writers and musicians.  In other words, art inspired by other art.  I had just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver’s great novel, “The Poisonwood Bible” and the idea for this piece came to me.

Kingsolver's Crocodile, detail

Much of my Falls project, occurs on-site, however, I do remove a lot of rubbish and haul it home where I make things in my basement.  Once in awhile, I do find an object that is so complete by itself, that it requires the right moment to activate any additional meanings.  Such was the case with the Styrofoam piece that had the word “Bible” embossed onto it.  I came across this at the river years ago and wondered what I could do with this that would be interesting and do justice to it.  I can only guess what this was originally a part of…perhaps some funerary decoration or maybe it was the cover of some inexpensive, cloth covered book?  Anyway, I saved it hoping a good opportunity would present itself.

Kingsolver's Crocodile, topview

The Kingsolver novel came at the right time in more ways than one.  If you are unfamiliar with the story (and by all means..read this book) it is set in the former Belgian Congo in the early 1960’s on the cusp of  their independence.  An evangelical Christian family moves to a remote village and sets up a mission.  The minister-father of the family tries his best to “civilize”  the local people and of course all kinds of misunderstandings occur.  The minister can’t understand why he can’t get the people into the river for their full immersion baptism and the locals can’t understand why he is trying to kill them.  Afterall, the river is full of man-eating crocodiles!  It’s the classic clash of cultures.  Although Kingsolver’s novel pre-dates the current Iraq War, our campaign there always smacked to me as an example of “evangelical democracy”… just because we believe this is right doesn’t mean it will be accepted, especially if we don’t respect the traditions that are already in place.  This is one of the lessons in history that doesn’t seem to get learned.

Kingsolver's Crocodile, on exhibit

I don’t have many shots of this piece, but here is one while it was on exhibit.  It was purchased by a local artist/collector and now has a good home.  Roughly, the piece was about six feet long and made mostly of Styrofoam, plastic, and driftwood.  I did use a few reflectors, a couple of lathe-turned spindles, one of the eyes is rubber…the other is a buckeye.  All the material elements traveled down the Ohio River (a baptism of their own) and washed up at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

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