Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Introducing Edmonia Lewis, the chicken

I struggled to find the proper name for her. Her black mop reminded me of a wig, something that Liza would wear in a Vegas show. But she is more dignified than that, quieter, but very secure in her place in the flock. She is one of the first three hens out in the morning, and hangs out in the Jane-Golda group [who you will meet later this month.]

I called her Eliza for a few days, sort of like Liza, but more reverential. Thought of Tina Turner, but, no, just not right. Ella, Lena, Pearl...the name and face that kept returning was one of the Three Stooges, Mo - you know, the one with the black mop haircut.

Geeze, I can't name her after a Stooge. So I set out to create a name around the name Mo. As flock caretaker, this was my duty to her. And so I came upon Edmonia Lewis, a black woman born in the States in the 1800's who is noted as the first Black woman sculptor. Her story was inspiring in that she recreated her life in a daring way for the times, and she also recreated her name to be Edmonia Lewis, having been given the name Wildfire by her Chippewa mother. She moved to Italy in her early career and became famous and sought after as an artist. I liked that she "...created many of the myths that amazed, tantalized, and generated interest in her work."

So Mo is a myth maker too, as we all are. Joseph Campbell would approve too, I'm sure.