Sky Map (Jeffers Mound)

dye sublimation print on silk organza and broadcloth, and acrylic paint
36" x 34.5"

When I stare up at the sky, I lose a sense of time and location. I feel small. I am reminded that while the ground beneath me is not static and evolves as borders are built and dissolved. But the atmosphere above appears to remain as a fluid constant. Looking up at this vast space, I see endlessness. I am reminded of those who came before me and also stared at the same moon, sun, and sky.

In September 2019 I began researching the remaining earthworks and burial mounds built 2000 years ago by Indigenous groups of people who lived on the land we now call Columbus. Ironically this namesake is credited with the first acts of settler-colonialism, a practice of exploitation and occupation that led to demolishing of the majority of these sacred sites and erasing the remnants of their ancient history. The contemporary Indigenous caretakers of these sites were pushed off their land, the burial mounds were looted for treasure, and earthwork enclosures were flattened to make space for industrial farming.

While visiting Jeffers Mound (named after the family that worked to preserve the site when the surrounding land was subdivided), I took a series of panoramic photos circumambulating the mound. I walked from the left, and then from the right, my camera facing the large pile of raised earth. The mound sits at the center of a large culdesac, surrounded by suburban homes. There are trees sprouting out of the top. While the language and history of the people who built these sites no longer reside in our living memory, I know the land emembers what we cannot. I imagined what it must feel like to be this mound, outliving its creators, the last of its kind. I imagined the mound staring up at the sky as the wind spiraling around it. Memories still linger and traces of the past still haunt us, reminding us what has been lost.

The map I have compiled from these photos is not the territory it represents. I make space for ghosts on the map and speculative fiction fills unknown gaps. I respect the mysteries of this site, the secrets that cannot be excavated by archeologists or pieced together by historians. My map presents the sky as its focal point. The sky is surrounded by the mound’s blurred embrace. I hope this map transports us to the knowledge and respect that there were people here before us, who also stared at the sky. 

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