Mazon Creek Fossil Fauna
Chitons and Gastropods
Many of the egg tempera panels from the first decade of my work contain geometries that serve as thresholds between different sensory worlds. Be they purely patterned or derived in form from familiar objects – furniture, vessels, and other intimate objects – they all seem to push paint and image into heightened contrasts. Egg tempera is a luminous medium, comprised of multiple translucent layers, but it also can present a very physical and tactile surface. In the piece, Tigress, from 1991, I built up the paint in such a way that it appears to form natural fissures, creating a sculptural quality against the dark circle which represents passage and transcendence. As the circle throughout history has implied unity, infinity, and perfection, so is the magical center or “window” of Tigress an invitation to a sublime experience. The white circle – off-center, but attached and relating to the larger – gives a suggestion of something planetary and gravitational, even moon-like. Symbolically, Tigress is the feminine power in mythology, and the white circle, individual and contrasting, is the eternal soul.
This polyplacophoran is a very ancient animal, ranging from the Late Cambrian to the present, and considered to be the most primitive of all living mollusks. Chitons have a dorsal shell, which is composed of eight separate shell plates or valves. Specimens were found in at least two concentrations at Pit 11, which were nicknamed Chiton Hills by collectors.
Snails are a relatively minor element of the known Mazon Creek mollusks and of the Essex Fauna in general. Further, their preservation is generally poor, usually as an external mold. However, present-day Gastropods have the greatest number of named species, second only to the insects in terms of their diversity.