Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Big Picture

Thanks are due to my friend and fellow rock art enthusiast, Lanny Rubin, for encouraging me to attend the presentation by Polly Schaafsma at the International Rock Art Conference.  Schaafsma did a marvelous job of giving coherence to the complicated subject of the rock art of the Upper Rio Grande.  She traced its origins back to its Central American roots, showed how the iconography evolved over time, and provided graphic examples of the final flourishing of the art form in sophisticated polychrome murals at two locations, as well as in the enduring tradition in the Hopi katsina figures.  It was great fun to see her illustrations and listen to explanations of many of the sites I have visited and photographed over the years.  One of the most interesting revelations for me was the identification of the star-faced figures as representing the planet, Venus, and the association with warfare.  Schaafsma also did a very nice job of integrating rock art stylistic features with other art forms such as pottery designs, and putting it all together in a general cosmology.

I've been getting back to my interest in Rock Art and have found that the time away from it has given me a useful perspective on my earlier efforts to portray my experiences with the subject.  As a result, I'm going to spend some time updating my rock art web site, primarily in regard to design issues.  When I started the site, most people were still accessing the web through analog phone connections.  The result of that was that pictures had to be presented initially at thumb-nail size and spread out over many pages so as to not over-tax connection capacities.  Now, with most people connected via cable, it is possible to display photos and graphics in a way that presents the subject in a much more compact and coherent manner.  I've never represented myself as any kind of expert on the material, but I am pleased to see at this point that the assessments and speculations which accompany the photographic records do not seem to require any wrenching revisions.

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