When we visited Peru in 2008, I found the people and their culture, the landscape, and most of all, the remains of the ancient Inca civilization compelling. From a purely visual and creative standpoint, the magnitude of the accomplishments of the Incas was amazing, including masterfully designed architecture, precision engineering, stone carving, ceramics, textiles and metalwork. We visited museums where some artifacts remain; however, we learned that the majority of the civilization’s objects, especially those made of gold, had been destroyed. The idea that a civilization was invaded and crushed, its temples leveled, and their invaluable gold and precious ceremonial object seized and melted down by the conquerors, was heartbreaking. In 1526, the Spanish arrived at the Inca Empire, which, at almost 400,000 square miles, was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. Over the next several decades, the Spanish fought, conquered, and enslaved the Incas, executing the last Inca Ruler, Tupac Amaru, in 1572. The conquistadors melted down almost all significant objects and treasures, using the precious metals as adornments for churches, building new cities over the ancient foundations. For me, gold is the symbol that epitomized the invasion.
In terms of imagery, this is a very simple body of work that utilizes a few key forms and motifs. The monolith recalls the components of the Inca temples, Machu Picchu being only one of many. The coins represent the gold and the valuables, while images of rain represent tears, and crimson represents the blood spilled. Some of the works are graphite drawings on panels with a poured translucent encaustic/wax surface. Also included are some oil paintings on unframed canvas that have been saturated in clear encaustic. Others are even simpler— poured encaustic and pigment shapes on panels.
*The working titles in this show are in English, however in honor of the Incas, each piece has a Quechuan title. Quechua was the language spoken by the Incas in Peru, and remains an official language in Peru and Bolivia