Remnant, one of five installations in Virga: The Hunt for Water

Coconino Center for the Arts, Flagstaff, AZ, 2013 | Back to Virga Main Page

Materials: BFK Rives paper, pencil, pine pollen, eraser peelings, human hair

Artist Statement

Sept. 6, 2012.  I found a freshly killed female Abert squirrel on Mt. Elden Lookout Road, legs in the air, small feet, knuckles, phalanges, claws so perfect, brown stained teeth, big black eyes, white whiskers, large bushy tail, four pair of mammary glands lining each side – its body still warm.  Excited by the prospect of drawing it, I carried it to the side of the road, committed to pick it up after my bike ride.  Upon my return, the squirrel was mangled, torn apart, the left leg stripped of its skin down to sinew and bone, the thick abdomen deflated, the innards gone.  The lower jaw hung from its right hinge.  All desire to draw out its spirit – dashed.

Two weeks later, I find on the same road, a freshly killed male Abert squirrel.  This time I don’t delay.  I take it home and put it on top of the Bing cherries and sweet corn in the freezer.

Oct. 4, 2012.  Today I created a drawing by putting on a pair of clean white socks and walking through a field of Cosmos wildflowers along Highway 180.  Each wildflower sees is 1/2″ long and has three sharp prongs, perfect for snagging onto the leg of a moving mammal.  My white socks became my drawing paper, the seeds, my mark making.  I call my drawing Seed Dispersal.

Jan. 17, 2013.  I started drawing the male Abert squirrel I had found in September.

Jan. 18, 2013.  I finished the drawing tonight using eraser peelings.  I have been collecting these peelings for several years.  They come from the Pink Pearl erasers I use as I figure draw, and like my wife’s hair and pine pollen, they are remnants, used to draw with.

Jan. 26, 2013.  I sit in Cedar Canyon, in the cold rain in the Sonoran Desert, seven miles from the Mexican Border. I am on a field trip with students from Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy.  We are visiting the memorial of a young lady who passed away in this canyon five years earlier on a similar cold January day.  Her name was Josseline Jamileth Hernandez Quiteros.  She was 14 years old, from El Salvador, and trying to visit her mother.

After visiting the Josseline’s memorial, we returned to the No More Deaths camp, packed our gear and headed back home to Flagstaff.  My brother Grant called tonight. Today, he and his son shot two cow elk in the mountains of Central Utah.  If I want them, he knows where the two heads still lie – in the Gamble oak where they dressed the bodies.