Rosemary Wood, artist
Women Warrior Shields, 2020
Earth has never experienced a global pandemic as devastating as COVID-19. Up until the COVID hit it had been virtually unknown. It had been unknown and unheard of to everyone, even the scientific community. At the beginning no one knew what to expect. How it would exhibit itself or what it could do to people; how virulent it was or how quickly it would spread from person to person; who were the most vulnerable and at risk; what was the mode of transmission and how you could catch it?
Some of these questions were answered through clinical observation by our public health officials. It was determined that the spread of COVID-19 can be slowed if populations would (1) wear masks, (2) maintain social distancing, and (3) wash hands frequently. These scientifically recommended guidelines quarantined me in my home on original allotment land. There is no sound or sight of modern living where I live. No traffic sounds, horns honking, bands playing, children screaming. There are sights and sounds of birds, deer, squirrel, raccoon, possum, and bobcat.
It was during this time, of isolation, that I began a series of paintings, “Women Warrior Shields.” Women warriors were not terribly common among our people, but neither were they totally unknown. An example is the story of Tho’-xi Zhin-ga as told by Francis La Flesche (Traditions of the Osage, edited by Garrick Bailey, p. 95).
It occurs to me that the focus of the woman warrior is not so much about killing and destroying the enemy, but saving and protecting the people. Being a woman warrior is not incompatible with being a medicine woman, healing and protecting. Through ancient knowledge she fashions the tools of her trade by joining her personal power with that of the natural environment. Her medicine bundles contain herbs, tree bark, roots, berries, flowers, and all Mother Nature provides for healing her children.
For her war shield she solicits the help of her four legged brothers and sisters. As a daughter of Mother Nature she knows the ways of her siblings, and they know her ways. Each of the four totems used in my Woman Warrior Shields are my interpretation and expression of the power each animal has, which can be used to help and protect the people. Below are descriptions of the meaning of each totem. However, we all have spirits akin to our four legged brothers and sisters and knowledge above and beyond that which is written herein. Look within yourself for a more complete understanding of the totems.
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