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Among most Native American tribes all important plants and animals, as well as forces of nature like wind and rain, had their own distinct spirit. Typically such spirits could manifest themselves to people in either their native form or in human form. Thus, if the Bear Spirit wanted to appear in a vision or dream it could assume either bear form or human form. This concept of transformation has been central to many of the prints I have made since I started working with the silkscreen medium.
Among Southwestern tribes such nature spirits are often phrased as “Kachinas” or as the Navajo know them “Yei”. In my Canyon Spirits series I have developed a generalized human figure that, like the Kachina, represents the human form that a particular plant or animal spirit can take. The anthropomorphic figures in this print represent such a human-like manifestation.
Datura, or Jimson Weed, is sometimes called “sacred Datura” by virtue of the fact that some Southwestern tribes, particularly in California, ingested this plant to achieve visions, a very risky procedure as the plant is quite poisonous. It is also quite beautiful with its large, trumpet-shaped flowers and dark green, scalloped leaves. It was mainly the beauty of the plant that I was responding to in this print rather than the hallucinogenic properties, though the hummingbirds might be taken to represent the flights of imagination achieved by native shamans. The red half-moon shapes on either side of the flower are my personal warning not to try this yourself.