Monday's Inspiration: The Past

University of Oregon's Museum of Natural and Cultural History
This year, I've been working to overcome my creative block and other issues keeping me from making art. Part of that process is taking myself on weekly "artist dates" where I do something special for myself, usually in a way that relates to my creativity, but not always. Last Friday, I decided to go the Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon, my first alma mater. Lately, I've been wondering how I can combine my love for anthropology with my love for art, since I have degrees in both.

Stone lamp, found near the John Day Reservoir, Gilliam County
As I walked up to the museum, I was asking myself how this week's date related to my art. I had the answer pretty quickly, thanks to the work I've been doing recently to figure out what most speaks to me aesthetically. The museum's main exhibits are a series of near-life sized dioramas, showing Oregon's different regions –the coast, the valleys, the Columbia plateau, and the great basin– and how Oregon's first peoples lived traditionally.

10,000 year old sagebrush sandals
In the exhibits, I saw my favorite colors, greens, blues, browns, grays, black and white. I saw the beautiful textures of natural materials. I saw the enigmatic faces and symbols of rock art, found almost everywhere in the world - a universal human heritage. The experience was both restful and inspiring.

I'm going to be asking myself how I can incorporate the essence of this experience into my artwork in a way that is respectful of the sources, creating without acting in a way that amounts to cultural appropriation. One of the themes of the museum is to remind visitors that the descendants of the people whose lifeways are depicted are still here, something that is indelibly etched in my thinking as a result of my studies in archaeology and anthropology for my first degree.

If you happen to find yourself in Eugene, a visit to the museum is well-worth the time and the small admittance fee.

1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic resource in your new/old home town... I can only imagine what new creations will eventually surface!