Sandee S. Johnson

Family Archeology

© 2007

Sandee Johnson "Family Archeology"Sandee Johnson "Family Archeology"

Unplanted bellies heave aboard slanted decks
Until land is finally breached and blessed.
Sailors rub the shamans’ carvings,
Feed their fever, follow their compass.
Like sea otters, they breed
Among kelp umbilicals,
Mate between the purpled tongues of seaweed.
Only later, it is the women who
Will spit on the sacred granite symbols,
Sawing their afterbirths onto petroglyphs
With the half-shells of razor clams.
Full-breasted, blue-veined memories
Carved into the New World
With a sharp rock and muttered chants.

Sandee Johnson "Family Archeology"

With their limited palette, these collages could represent any history of families that migrate and settle in unfamiliar lands. As an American of European heritage, I know little of my own family’s past but can imagine the shocking shifts from a “civilized continent” to the threatening sphere of the “wild west”. Though some of the paintings on 600gram watercolor paper are more “American” than others, the overall quality is a general look at ancestry, emotions and relevant accompanying moods. Handwritten excerpts from imaginary diaries compete with simple geometric shapes culled from an 18th century geometry workbook. My own photographs entangle with those of my ancestors or those anonymous souls bought at flea markets.

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Copyright of all the images and artwork by Sandee Shaffer Johnson