|G a l l e r y||
Like many other Native American peoples, the ancient inhabitants of the Southwest almost certainly personified many of the animals, plants and forces of nature that surrounded them. Each of these entities had its own spirit representation, and there were hundreds of them, as there are today with the Hopi Kachina spirits.
There is evidence that the ancient Hohokam of the southern Arizona desert saw water creatures such as the frog as particularly important spirits. The hundreds of miles of irrigation canals constructed by the Hohokam created an environment that was rich in fish, amphibians and water birds, and some of these were represented by prehistoric artisans in shell carvings of consummate craftsmanship and clever design. A frequent motif in these shell carvings is a long, slender water bird that, while highly stylized, seems recognizable as a great blue heron, a bird seen surprisingly frequently along Arizona Rivers even today.
I often see one or two of these magnificent birds fly over as I walk along the Rillito River wash in the early morning. They inspired me to produce this print showing both the heron itself and the heron spirit figure which I conceive as a kind of personal kachina such as those I depict in a number of other prints.