Monday, January 21, 2013

Using the Whole Animal: Buffalo Skulls

I don't like to waste. I recycle, compost and do all those hippie things a true hippie would do. I also don't like to waste because waste costs money. It costs money in the long run for everyone. I'd rather use my food scraps to make compost and fertilize the garden instead of having to buy fertilizer. I'd rather recycle paper, plastic, metal and glass so it can be reused instead of companies having to find, mine or harvest, and create those materials all over again from scratch.

I also don't like to waste animals and what they provide for us. If we are going to kill an animal for food or clothing, let's use every last bit of that animal. Let's eat the organ meat (highly nutritious), use the bones to make bone broth for soup, and use the hide and fur for clothing or other uses. The greatest disrespect we can commit to an animal we killed is not using all of the animal. Native American and other indigenous cultures practice this and have practices this for thousands of years. They show their respect for the life and sacrifice of the animal by using and being resourceful of the whole animal.

Given my interest in art and Native American culture and art, I became interested in painted buffalo skulls. A couple of years ago I decided I'd try painting one. I found a really good deal for one on craigslist.

I carefully planned out my design which consisted of a mix of American stripes and a star accompanied by the Lakota four directions. The four directions are red for the north, yellow for the east, white for the south, black for the west. You will find variations of the which colors represent which directions. The most common difference I have found in Lakota culture is sometimes the white represent the north and red the south.

The idea of painting on the buffalo skull provides me with a different medium to create art, pays respect to the influence Native American art has had on me, and it also enables me to contribute to the idea of using the whole animal. I would much rather use this beautiful buffalo skull as a showcase for my art rather than have it laying in a landfill or dumped somewhere else.

To date I have painted four buffalo skulls and I plan to continue to paint them.

Horse with Lakota four directions

Navajo rug design with American red and blue design
New Mexico Zia with American stars and stripes