When I was in middle school we were charged with the awful task of writing a term paper. This was not something I was excited or interested to do. I have to admit that up to this day I don’t fully understand term paper writing with all those references, all those rules of transferring a piece of information without angering the term paper gods for acts of plagiarism. All I really remember is that there was something about reading a bunch of books but encyclopedias were not allowed. There were index cards, there were lists of references and there were more lists. Papers were handed in, papers were sent back. You were not allowed to copy information but you had to reference what you wrote. Oh I just didn’t get it.
I still don’t get it and it’s perhaps the one large failing of my educators. Well that and the fact that I never memorized my multiplication tables but let’s not get into that particular piece of trivia.
One assignment I remember was to write a term paper on the Mayan Civilization. I may have gotten a D or a D- I have no clue how I stumbled on the topic, for all I know it was assigned but I did find it interesting. I liked the story about all the abandoned cities in the rainforest. Once there thousands of people living in those cities and then there was nobody living in those cities.
I’ve always been fascinated with Mesoamerican pre-Columbian art so I was thrilled when I was asked by an author to collaborate on a divination deck. Not only was it something that interested me but I think the style suits me. I am currently in the “research and development” stage. It’s all about what colors should I use and how do I represent certain themes. Do I stay true to history or do I allow artistic license to play a role.
As an artist it’s funny how some of the most simple decisions can take so long to develop when you are working on a project like this. We had decided we wanted a main picture with a border so I drew up a sample drawing. But then the decisions… Should the borders be the same for all the art, should they change, what should they represent, What information were we trying to convey. Should I reference only Maya or should I combine from others, should I use certain symbols? Obviously It’s both and exciting and daunting task.
I am learning much more than I did when I was writing my term paper. As we develop this I am learning so much. I had discovered that they had different symbols to represent the same phonetic sound. Writers, although I think of them more as artists, could combine these symbols in different ways to represent the same words. I think this lends an incredible level of creativity to writing. What you read is truly in the artist’s voice.
There is much for me to do. A project of this size will not happen overnight. I’m convinced it will consume me for a bit. Hopefully, once I am completed with it my work can in the very least pay homage to a great culture. Perhaps it will inspire someone as I have been inspired to find out more about what once had been.