The autumnal equinox has come and gone and with it the this long, hot summer has given way to temperatures twenty degrees cooler. We are thankful for this and without trying to sound ungrateful…could use a little rain as well. Artist at Exit 0, the unofficial artist at the Falls of the Ohio, was looking through some older images of his and was reminded of a former project that was offered as a physical prayer and remembrance of times gone by.
On occasion, references have been made in the riverblog that one of the historic features about the Falls of the Ohio is that it once was an active bison trace. Animals forded the river at this location and in fact many of the major roads in Kentucky are old buffalo trails that have been paved over. For millennia, bison were a resource that people could count on until they were slaughtered on an industrial scale in the 19th century for a variety of reasons…none of them good. To the indigenous people, bison were more than their supermarkets and great spiritual significance was associated with them. It’s probably a miracle of some kind that these animals continue to exist to the present day. Artist at Exit 0 has made several bison pieces over the years…but this was his favorite one.
Here it is presented as a simple art object. Constructed from river-polished polystyrene, driftwood branches, and nuts this piece was about as large as a good-sized dog. What the artist especially likes, however, are some of the images showing the Styro-Buffalo in the context of the Falls.
The Styro-Buffalo was photographed on the fossil cliffs near the western section of the park. The images were recorded with a 35mm camera and conventional print film that was developed at the local drugstore. I recently read in a Wikipedia search, that the white buffalo is an extremely rare animal and their births occur in approximately one out of every ten million births. Whether this takes into account leucistic (white fur, blue eyes), albinos (white fur, pink eyes) or other genetic anomalies is not certain. We had a female, white bison calf born in Shelbyville, KY in 2005 at a buffalo ranch and tourist attraction called Buffalo Crossing. The animal was named “Cantje Pejute” from the Lakota language which translates to “Medicine Heart”. A recent search on Buffalo Crossing was inconclusive as to whether the ranch is still open to the public and with it the fate of this particular animal?
Here is the Styro-Buffalo photographed at sunset on the fossil rocks. One critic who commented on this image considered it overly romantic. It was meant to be a pejorative statement since apparently there is little room in contemporary art for work that includes nature as part of the work’s context. The quest for the sublime and awe for nature are not generally in fashion in the high contemporary art world. Artist at Exit 0 was okay with that comment only because it underscored and confirmed personal observations about the contemporary art world that Artist at Exit 0 feels mirrors the general disconnect he perceives from our kind for the environment. If we persist in this attitude…we too may go the way of the buffalo and again it will be our choice.
This post is offered in friendship to 47 Whitebuffalo who’s fine blog is full of social conconciousness and art. Her link is included in my blogroll on my home page.