Holy Ambrosia

 

A Colonial Ranger, vicious guerilla of the forest, drops to the ground in rapt attention, rifle and scalp trophy in hand. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place” emerges from the compost and discarded logs and rocks forming a Christian cross but alluding to the paranoia of the psychedelic state. Indeed, directly in front of the soldier, growing by a stump are Amanita mushrooms, powerful hallucinogens known as Holy Ambrosia. This lowly, snow-covered trash heap becomes an alter to the Old Ways and the weeds are all medicines. A skinned deer head wishes the man well, “May ye live long and be e’er prosperous” (quoting 11th century Tibetan yogi Milarepa not Spock). A true and direct religious experience of compassion, empathy, and altered consciousness. What is “the blood of Christ” that fertilizes “mushrooms and the other healing yerbs”? What does it mean to proclaim “I open my mouth, I eat life”? Is it a justification, a reprieve? As with other works in American Visions, this drawing is about the weedy persistence of overlaid and borrowed-from cultures, forgotten potential, and the problem of trying to return to or reassess antiqued ways. The dogs are mastiff-type dogs that were used to hunt Indians. The cabin is modeled after those used at Valley Forge. “Pray, Plow, Protect” refers to the ideal medieval Holy Warrior who serves God, works the fields, and defends the land.

 

E.A.B. 2/22/09