Studio spotlight: A basket of antlers and a small animal skull stir up stories and creative juices. These items don't belong to me. I share a studio with a sculptor who collects many fascinating things that may or may not be chosen for a 3D art form. Every place you look in here there is something that engages me, and that little voice persuades me to take a photo and make mental notes for future painting.
When I was a wee girl, bones really frightened me, especially animal bones. Once I went on a walk and wander from my grandma's country house where she was the cook for a hungry bunch of farm hands on a successful Bull ranch, in Alberta. The farm was huge and there were many places for a girl to explore. I ended up in a field of wheat with an old grey wooden barn in it's center. It was derelict and creepy, but I made it my end goal to reach it before turning around to head back. When I arrived at the entrance the door appeared torn off and it was pitch black inside with just the sound of birds and bats fluttering and flapping around invisibly. I decided it was too frightening to explore inside the barn so I would walk the perimeter instead. Well around the back of the building I nearly stepped right on top of a skeleton spread out on the ground. I let out a loud screech! There were still flies buzzing around it, but I didn't let them deter me from getting a better look. From what was left of it I thought to myself, "it's a coyote".....and the hairs on the back of my neck went up. I looked around hastily because suddenly it felt as if 100 more coyote faces were watching me from behind the tall wheat, and so I wasted no time bolting back to my grandmas home for safety.
The worry was that the old dead coyote would come back to life suddenly, and would chase and bite me on the ankles. I still go back to that childhood memory often, like we do, but not with fear. Now it just reminds me of the suffering and hardship of animal's lives....and in human life too but with less of an instinctual drive. The bones are like a light switch that turns on to remind me of the struggle. They hold so much energy in their history. It makes me laugh to think about that story now, but I think it was an omen for me, and is why bones hold so much signifigance.