Goodloe Suttler
Through the Eyes of a Shaman

Opening Reception: Sunday, March 10, 2012    2-5pm

Gallery hours: M-F 10-6, S 10-2
The Framer's Corner, 210 West Main St, Carrboro, NC 27510  919.929.3166

Artist Statement 

Thousands of years ago, the nomadic tribes of the Colorado Plateau depended on their shamans to talk with ‘the spirits’ to solve rain, hunt and health problems.  Shamans regularly used a variety of methods to induce their own out-of-body experiences as the means of calling on the spirits.  To communicate to others what he had seen on his journey into the other world, a shaman would on occasion paint symbols and motifs on smooth rock faces in protected alcoves where spiritual power was present. 

There are approximately 350 known sites in central Utah where these early paintings can be observed. Roughly 10 sites are available to the public, while the specific locations of the other panels are kept private among rock art researchers and park rangers, to preserve these panels for as long as possible.  Half of the images in this exhibit are from secret sites.  Photographing the 34 most interesting sites took two years to plan and three very intense weeks of hiking remote canyons with a rock art expert. 

Paints were derived from combinations of minerals and plants, with animal or human blood used as a binder.  Animals and birds are often depicted, representing the source of power for a particular shaman.  Ceremonial robes are also shown on some rock panels, robes strikingly similar to those found in early nomadic tribes of the Mongolia and Korean regions.  The parallel lines used in painting some motifs is thought to represent the need for spirits to help bring rain during periods of drought.  The “goggle eyes” offer viewers a wide variety of possible interpretations, including: ‘this is what I saw’ or ‘ they see us’ or ‘the spirits are not from here’. 

Amazingly, some of these ancient and clearly weathered motifs are still visible today on rock panels tucked back in Utah Canyons.  Mathematically advanced image enhancement techniques were developed by rock art researchers in 2005, to enable a rapid site survey using normal digital cameras without missing faded paintings.  The images in this exhibit would not be possible without these specialized imaging techniques.

In this collection of Barrier Canyon Style motifs, I used a combination of textured printing paper, high-resolution digital camera equipment, and a complex processing workflow to create what I believe a hallucinating shaman might have seen standing in front of a recently painted panel.  For me, these prints are vehicles to travel back in time for a few moments, to try to sense what a dedicated shaman had experienced in fulfilling his tribal role.

Goodloe Suttler: Holy Ghost

Holy Ghost

Goodloe Suttler: Devils

Devils

Goodloe Suttler: Sinbad

Sinbad

Goodloe Suttler: Yellow Comet

Yellow Comet