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Yoke of Identity, 2017, stoneware

This layered image is complex for me, and has been hard to put into words. My grandfather was part of the back to the land movement in the 70s. I stayed with him in the summers, hand-churning peach ice-cream with fruit from his orchard. He grew all his own food, including meat. I would wake at 5 each morning to feed the cows, and I learned to ride horses on his plow mule, Lady. Older and no longer farming, Grandpa 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 relationship with the land and the services provided by Mother Earth. 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.