A note on ‘Exit’

“The West is not in the West. It is a project, not a place.”

-Edouard Glissant (Caribbean Discourse, 1989:2)

Based on one’s vantage point or cultural expectations, the significance of a place can become lost. The West as a colonial project, produced descriptions of the “Americas” as new land, a new world, while actively destroying and uprooting evidence of ancient history. One example of this can be seen in the defacement of ancient effigy mounds throughout Wisconsin. Hundreds of massive, shallow mounds depicting birds, lizards, men, panthers and snakes blanket the landscape. Many of the ancient mounds have been destroyed, dissected by roads, or they were flattened by settler farmers who couldn’t or wouldn’t see the mounds for what they were. 

Exit is a print about absence and propagating presence. A potential exit can represent a fear. Within Indigenous communities exists a deep-seated fear of losing cultural practices, languages and art forms. With this in mind, Exit is also a print about that fear. Specifically, the print references ancient Indigenous creations (Man Mound of Baraboo, Wisconsin, mica hand/talon forms of the Mississippian peoples) that have been falsely attributed to non-natives, lost tribes and extinct peoples. 

The imagery within this print signifies conflicting directions and a state of exposure. Bent tree trail markers, created by tethering saplings to the ground to produce bent grown trees used as directional markers. These trees are found all over North America, are publicly accessible, and vulnerable to destruction. Disembodied hands signing “exit” or “outside” in American Sign Language emerge from these trees, flanked by a bird stone. Images of overlapping mica cutouts of hands and talons hover at the center.

Because prints are editioned and produced in multiple they have the ability to make a single image diasporic. This inherent quality of the print is my sigil for warding off loss. The imagery of this print represents an attempt at reparative presence for the space between the Twin Cities and Chicago, the lands of several Anishinaabe tribes, Dakota and Ho-Chunk people. This print is meant to be a sigil for the thought forms of those who travel I-94, the road that cuts through mound country. To those who have seen this print and travel I-94, perhaps their minds will contemplate the profound significance of that space. 

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