July 08, 2017 through September 05, 2017

John Wimberley • A Preternatural Place

John Wimberley
A Preternatural Place: Magic and Memory in the Great Basin

Stone is the heart of the earth:
It’s where the earth dreams.
In her heart the earth dreams of living:
We’re one of those dreams.

The forty gelatin/silver prints in this exhibition were selected from my work since 1996. All were made within the American Great Basin; that is, Nevada and portions of adjacent states. They explore memories of human presence in the form of petroglyphs and abandoned structures, and reveal traces of magic in the land itself.

For 13,000 years or more, American Indians ground, pounded or scratched imagery we call petroglyphs into stone. When Euro-American miners arrived in force during the mid-1800’s, a new era began in which stone was quarried and stacked to construct buildings such as mills. Within them, stone was crushed to extract minerals, especially gold and silver. Most mining camps were very short lived and few structures, if any, remain. Happily, an astonishing number of petroglyphs have survived, but their numbers are diminishing.

The Indians who made petroglyphs and the miners who sought ore were, in very different ways, treasure hunters. Both dreamed of what was behind the surface of, or within, stone. For the Indian, the surface of the stone was a veil or interface between the world of daily life and the spirit world. By entering a state of lucid dreaming and making petroglyphs which penetrated that interface, contact between the two realms was facilitated. All research I’ve read suggests that petroglyphs, perhaps universally, were made for spiritual purposes. By contrast, the dreams of the miners were materialistic.

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©2017 John Wimberley


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