Monday, January 28, 2013

Effigy Tumuli Sculptures

 Artist Michael Heizer is an excellent example of an artist directly inspired by ancient land art.  Deriving from his trips with his anthropologist father, Heizer uses both social and political commentary in his "Effigy Tumuli Sculptures." The works consist of five earth mounds of river animals completed in 1985. These forms contrast greatly with the artist's previous and present works in their representational rendering. 
Courtesy of California Home + Design

Located in Illinois, the site chosen for the works was previously an open-cast mine.  The land was greatly polluted and hazardous to wildlife. One aim of the project is to re-establish wildlife in the area through the imported unpolluted soil, encouraging the growth of healthy grasses. Heizer's use of river animal forms coincide nicely with the land- reclamation project. What would be more suitable for a wildlife re-establishment initiative than animal forms?

Heizer became aware of Native American mounds, or tumuli, through his travels with his anthropologist dad. These tumuli, like the serpent shaped mound of the Hopewell Indians in Chillicothe, Ohio pictured below, were the major inspiration for these works. The "Effigy Tumuli Sculptures" serve as an effigy to a people destroyed by genocide while providing new life to a polluted land.

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