This triptych is part of my ongoing exploration of the clash between two cultures, that of the Mesoamerican indigenous people and the conquering Spaniard Roman Catholics. Time and again I am struck by the similarities between the two seemingly incompatible peoples. Their religious traditions revolving around sin, the fall of Man, redemption through blood sacrifice and resurrection bringing forth new life.
I wanted to explore these similarities, and differences through archetypal devices namely triptych construction, ecclesiastic, architectonic form, prayer cards and votive candles. Working with traditions brought to (forced upon) native cultures I wanted to examine the notion of the old gods claiming the forms for themselves. As if the priests of Tenochtitlan had not been slaughtered by the Spaniards but had in fact survived and adapted Western cultural norms for their own use. The following print In Nomine Patris might have been such a result of that cultural synthesis.
On the left, one of the Hero Twins, Hunahpu; on the right his brother Xbalanque; in the center their father, the sacrificed Maize God, Hun Hunahpu.
Through his sacrifice, his redemption by the Hero Twins and his resurrection, maize is brought to Man.
In Nomine Patris
18 by 27 inches
relief print on paper
My printmaking class is winding down, I’ve made a drawerful of plates, many prints; even a few I like. I had hoped to close the semester with a more elaborate version of this triptych. Ultimately this print will be colored using the pochoir technique and enhanced by applied additions. But for now, as the semester ends, it will be chastely black and white.
Th following print, The Gates of Xibalba can stand on its own, but it is also designed to interact with the triptych as actual sacristy gates.
relief print on paper
According to tradition the lords of the Underworld are devious, randy and stupid; I tried to capture that spirit.
The following is an artist’s proof of the assemblage of the triptych and the gates. I will need to figure logistics, shall it be flat, shall it be cut out like a toy theatre, it should certainly be colored. All must wait until I have access to a press next semester.
The alignment of the sacristy doors to the sacrificed Maize God was serendipitous; or the plan of the old gods.
In addition to the triptych I planned prayer cards, familiar to Roman Catholics world wide. My first is of the Maize God, Hun Hunahpu, sadly I misspelled his tongue-twisting name. As he is the god of maize, life and fecundity, once again an erect ear of corn seemed naughtily appropriate.
Blesses Hun Hunuhpu (sic)
relief print on paper
Going from prayer card to votive candle seemed a natural evolution. Here in southern California votive candles emblazoned with Roman Catholic saints are ubiquitous , found not only in bodegas but in mainstream grocery stores, even Target. I thought it was time for the Maize God to have his own moment to shine. More gods/goddesses to come.
I haven’t much business sense but I imagine this would sell.
Speaking of which I sold (fingers crossed)my first piece of work, a print, since “retiring” from decorative painting. I would still make work whether it sold or not, but having a buyer is confirmation indeed, I’m pleased and grateful.
The votive candle in place amidst his Catholic friends.
With that good news I close, take care and be well,
4 thoughts on “In Nomine Patris: Reclaiming the Old Gods”
Wow! You’ve been a busy boy! And if the first image you made using ‘pochoir’ is anything to go by, then your triptych is going to be wonderful.
Tip: whenever lettering a relief block, draw out the image on the lino and then check it in a mirror. Never fail to do this, even with the simplest lettering, because your brain can play tricks on you. A while back at the Artlog, I’d almost finished a relief block for the Thaliad book-plate when Lesley left a comment pointing out that I’d cut ex-libris to read correctly on the surface of the lino, rather than in reverse. I simply hadn’t noticed because I hadn’t checked it in a mirror the moment I’d drawn it out on the lino.
So, remember the mirror before you reach for the cutting tools!
Yes, will remember the mirror trick -I have used it-but I still fear the tongue twisters will get me each and every time, backwards of forward!
As per “pochoir” it worked remarkably well, far better than I had even imagined; a very useful tool in my increasingly growing toolbox. Thank you for the hints.
oh, my, i am amazed! the triptych is outstanding in every way! i wouldn’t even say it needs color, although i look forward to seeing what you do with that…and the doors are incredible, i love the creature and the sense of acrobatic motion, and i think it would be incredible to see it as a toy theater….!!!
I’m happy my demons seem animated, coming from you with your love of movement that means a lot to me.