Mazon Creek Fossil Fauna
Sea Jellies, Anemones, and Hydroids
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 scyphozoan (or “true jellyfish”) is easily the most frequently occurring Essex animal. Before its description in 1979, it was at various times thought to be a pseudofossil, tree branch scars, or possibly even fossilized floating algae mats.