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Yoke of Identity, 2017, stoneware

My grandfather was part of the back to the land movement in the 70s. I stayed with he and grandma in the summers, hand-churning peach ice-cream with fruit from their orchard. They grew all their own food, animals included. I would wake up at 5 to feed the cows, and I learned to ride horses on grandpa's plow mule, Lady. Older and no longer farming, he turned Lady’s plow yokes into mirrors.

 

Part of this image speaks to the basic fact that many kids today have no idea where their food comes from. They don’t understand our evolutionary, reciprocal relationship with the land. The world is rapidly urbanizing, and to meet demands of our growing population, we degrade our soils, air and water. The plow has become a relic of times past, hanging on the wall, yet it is in itself a complicated fixture, representing social and industrial developments that have contributed to our current situation, good and bad.

 

Do you see yourself? Do you recognize what you see? Who is the beast of burden in this picture? Having an identity comes with responsibility. But without identity, we risk being defined by others. Are you determining the course of your life, or are you laboring for others? Are you carrying your yoke, or has it strapped you down?

 

In the race to claim or lest be assigned an identity, this yoke can be a privilege or a burden.