Feathered Sculpture - Virgil A. Walker

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Las Cruces

Pheasant, peacock, chicken, duck  60" x 55" x 12"

When working, I frequently listen to news all day -- perhaps to keep current with the trends of my cultural setting -- allowing the wash and slosh of ideas and the swirl of loves and hates to drift through my mind.

Seldom do I notice a correlation between news items and my work decisions, but immediately after hearing a story about the ACLU suing the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico for violating the Constitution by having a cross on the city seal, I found myself making a cross. They have also sued the small town of Tijeras, New Mexico for the same thing.

The symbol of the cross is tens of thousands of years old, found even in Neandertal archeology sites. It is a symbol found throughout the world. In the mid-seventies, Steve Perkins had a visit from his friend Bhante, a Cambodian Buddhist monk who wanted to see Arizona. We took him to Sedona, the Grand Canyon and up to First Mesa on the Hopi Reservation to meet with Oswald White Bear Fredricks. The two diminutive, aged and wizened men talked and laughed all day, finding so much more than their physical appearance and love of Cheetos in common. White Bear took us to three or four sites in the area that had ancient petroglyphs carved into rock where they both found a shared understanding of crosses, swastikas, circles, squares, and spirals relevant to their religious and cultural lives.

The Tijeras case is interesting in that their town seal has both an Indian symbol of a cross as well as a much smaller Christian cross on a necklace lying by a Conquistador helmet, representing the town founding. The ACLU finds only the Christian cross violates the separation of church and state.

The Christian cross replaced the fish symbol in prominence around 300AD. Would the fish symbol violate the Constitution? There is good evidence that it was taken from the vesica piscis, which was introduced by the Pythagoreans and led to the development of geometry.  

I made a cross to be a cross, a horizontal axis bisected by a vertical axis. This represents the possibility of being upright between the opposites, an idea that can be Christian. Or Buddhist, Hopi, Pagan…



   Photo:  Richard K. Webb

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