Ann Schunior talks about her animal images
People ask me if my inspiration comes from Native American designs. Others assume the designs are primarily African. Actually, the animals come from ancient and indigenous designs from all over the world. I’ve travelled extensively, primarliy in West Africa, but also in the Western United States, Central and South America and Central Asia. I’m drawn to the stylistic simplicity of rock art, where the essence of an animal is captured in a silhouette.
The only rock art I’ve seen in the wild that have made it onto my pots are from the Sarmish Gorge in Uzbekistan. When I saw the long, curled horns of the mountain goats petroglyphs, I knew it would come home with me.
Some of my favorite petroglyphs are from the Sahara desert. Six thousand years ago the Sahara was lush and green like the Serengeti is now. In Libya and Algeria you’ll find life-sized petroglyphs of giraffes as well as gazelle and large cats.
The wading birds come from rock art in Hato Mayor, Dominican Republic. The cave has appropriately been named La Ceuva de Las Aves. Folks ask me what kind of birds these are. I can only point out that rock art doesn’t come with signs and labels. What we have is the imagination and creativity of people who came before us. (Rock art photo used with permission of Daniel DuVall.)
There are many sources for animal imagery including ancient pottery. The Minoans of about 3500 years ago were seafaring people and fine potters. Their pots were covered with sea creatures.
Occasionally I’m drawn to an image that isn’t an animal. Thisis a Zapotec design from a weaver in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca State, Mexico.
I have files of animal images that I haven’t used yet. I photographed this bird on La Bajda Mesa near Santa Fe, NM. Should it find it’s way onto one of my pieces? What do you think?