The configurations Hicks' work takes serve as meditations on his (and ultimately our) relationship with the earth, on troubled borders between
nature and culture, and on his personal and
deeply felt experience of place.
Hicks searches for meaning in small things.
Philip Van Keuren
the CORRELATION COLLECTION project
In 1998 I accompanied a team of herpetologists and parasitologists to
Guatemala collecting animals and their parasites.
The correlation between collecting as biological research and art precipitated the following exhibition.
One of the herpetologists, Dr. Joseph R. Mendelson III, added great levity to the weighty
experience of collecting in an eroded environment. He also added a great
I chose not to take a camera. A significant decision as my primary income comes from taking photographs. This project needed to be documented directly from the experience. I felt that both removing myself from the scene and the inherent voyeuristic nature of photographs would remove that experience. I took a laptop and cell phone to document the trip and share the experience with my patrons and family via email.
below are excerpts from these
Guatemala email communiques
Yesterday beautiful Mayan Indian women washed their clothes and bathed in the river alongside the parked van. Although they seemed shy and we tried not to invade their privacy, they bathed half naked with little noticeable modesty. A young Indian man probably under 20 years old sat on a boulder amidst the women and children and read from a bible.
Driving down somewhere in the blur of southern Mexico we passed a man peeing facing the road, his back turned to a group of people. As we approached, the congregation was revealed for the most part to be seated facing away from the road. Between two old ramshackle adobe huts on a table (or maybe it was a bed...the image passed so fast) lay an old woman dressed all in white, her arms folded across her chest. We passed on down the highway.
We arrived in Todo Santos on a Saturday afternoon. The road into town winds down the mountain side into the seclusion of a mountain valley. Cradled high in the Cutchamatanies, Todo Santos seemed more like Switzerland than Central America. From points along the road, I could see the swirl of color in the middle of town. Soon we were in a mass of Mam (a Mayan Indian people who have retained their own language and customs). It was market day. The streets were full of brightly dressed people, the first clean people I had seen in the countryside.
textiles from TODO SANTOS
preserved in proportional dilutions of bleach
The men all wore red vertically striped pants
with a black loincloth, white shirts with red
pinstriping and one bold purple stripe. Their blue lapels were oversized and embroidered like
traditional women's huipiles. The women were also dressed identically: deep blue denim skirts
with a lighter pinstriping, and brightly embroidered huipiles over a dark blue base. Most all
the adults (men and women) wore bowler-type hats with matching hat bands. It was as though they
were wearing the brightest uniform I could imagine.
Street vendors sold everything from fruit and vegetables to machetes and baby chicks. Other than a few Europeans and Latinos, everyone -- vendors and customers alike -- were Mam. The streets were full of colorful people. The road up to the hotel was the main market. Blankets covered with nuts, fruit, and sugar blocked our way. So we spent the afternoon wandering through the town, enveloped in the color and enjoying the beautiful people. They spoke Mam. Few understood Spanish, so our connections with them were very limited. We observed them and they ignored us.
The old Spanish colonial Catholic church anchored the west end of town. Todo Santos means all saints. The saints were lined up down either side of the church. On pedestals or encased in glass boxes, they dominated the awesome space. Some of the features on the little faces were European, while some were Mayan and still others were Latino. The history of the dissolving of a culture was captured in those doll-like expressions.
After the market broke up, we worked our way up to the hotel and unloaded the van into the rooms. As most of us rested, Jon and Eric ventured the two blocks back to the main street to find bottled water and beer. They came back with stories of fights breaking out. The young men who had stayed in town were drinking beer spiked with grain alcohol and taking their frustrations out on each other. We did work our way down through the mayhem to dinner. The trip back to the hotel was safe enough, but it was like a scene from George Romero's Night of the Living Dead. Drunks lined the streets and sprawled in the gutters. People flailed away at each other. Back in the safety of our hotel we sat on the second floor balcony and listened to the evangelicals blaring traditional revival hymns, performed in Indian chant, through amplifiers . It was as though the evangelicals were playing a death march to a culture that was fighting itself.
MENTAL IMAGES formed by OBJECTS
as responses to MENTAL IMAGES
More formalin photos
More Correlation Collection
Dr. Joseph R Mendelson III