The Oneness: The Man in the Mask and Other Art

When I attended Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD, the student center often hosted interesting and unique art shows. One memorable show was Dick Termes’s fascinating, rotating spheres that are like viewing objects reflected in something curved except that his spheres are both the curved reflector and the object being reflected. The pictures on his website do a much better job of showing you what they are than any description I can offer. You can Google his name.

My favorite show was of Native American art. I do not remember but am assuming it was art of the Lakota Sioux. The only piece I remember clearly was a pot, or maybe it should be called a vase. The pot, in size between a cantaloupe and a basketball, was the shape of an egg and sat upright on its larger end. The first thing that made the pot unusual was that the opening, at the top of the smaller end, was jagged as if an egg had been cracked around as it would be if it were sitting in an eggcup.

Lakota pottery traditionally uses repeating designs in symbolic colors. Both the designs, often etched into the surface, and the colors are specific, traditional and represent things of importance such as water and rain, the cardinal directions, friendship. What made this pot more unusual was that the outside was painted with scenery of the Black Hills: pine trees, streams, hills, valleys. The colors were the those of the Black Hills: the blues of the sky, grays and whites of clouds, dark greens of the pine trees and browns and grays of the rocks. If I remember correctly, the pot also was smooth. No etching disturbed the continuity of the scenery. It was also either unglazed or glazed in a matte finish. Now, that is not unusual. Much Lakota pottery has a matte finish outside and a glossary finish inside so it can be used to hold liquids.

As beautiful as the outside was, it was the inside that made it amazing and magical. First, it was glazed a shiny, deep indigo blue. Sprinkled over the inside were dozens of tiny stars. I’m not sure if there was a moon. I’m remembering a crescent near the bottom of the pot, but I might have placed it there because I wanted it.

Art is a perfect medium to interpret the relationship between heaven and earth. I’d never seen it accomplished this well. The pot’s maker had fashioned a unique interpretation of the cosmic egg, a creation theme where the universe or a primordial being who creates the universe hatches from an egg. Many cultures include stories of a cosmic egg, but, to my knowledge, not with the universe within and the physical world without. It is also a wonderful symbol for our earthly lives. We carry so much potential within us to understand and take part in the eternal and infinite universal consciousness. At the same time, our outer lives are lived on the earthly plane amidst the world around us. Remembering again the Termespheres … they, too, are their own kind of cosmic eggs.