Monday, November 30, 2009
When Joan Molloy Slack and I first met, it didn’t take long to discover that we’re both fascinated by the work of our ancient ancestors. For a recent show at Nicolet College, we honored that work with a collaboration that combined her pottery and my netting.
Most objects the ancients used in everyday life were made of perishable fibers that disintegrated long ago. But archaeologists have found 28,000-year-old clay fragments marked with the impression of netting. The skilled execution of the knots shown in those impressions suggests that netting wasn’t new to them, that people had been using the technique for some time to catch fish, snare game, and carry unwieldy objects. People still sometimes decorate pottery with the imprint of netting.
The ancestors who once pressed a net into wet clay left us an even greater legacy than physical evidence of ancient material culture. They left us a tradition of collaboration. In Niche, Joan and I celebrate the women who went before us and those will come after us, working together to make even everyday objects more beautiful.
If you have a chance, go here to read a 1998 article from Discover magazine by Heather Pringle called New Women of the Ice Age. Archaeologist Olga Soffer’s comments about net hunting are offer a wonderful example of the power of working together.