Mazon Creek Fossil Fauna
Sea Cucumbers, Brachiopods, and Acorn Worms
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 holothurian is a member of the echinoderms (body divided into five sections) and has a worm-like, soft, and leathery body. They are not uncommon in the Essex Fauna, but are extremely rare in the overall fossil record.
Brachiopods, one of the most numerous and diverse forms of life during the Paleozoic, were almost entirely eliminated in the Late Permian Extinction. During this massive environmental disruption, over 90 percent of all marine animal species became extinct. The primitive Lingula was one of the few brachiopod orders that survived this stressful period. This gives it an unbroken fossil record that extends over 500 million years, making it one of the most successful animals in existence.