This article includes both Inbound and Outbound information about this image.
Inbound Artist: M’na Kkaxe, date unknown
Outbound Artist : M Kelley, 2015
This image depicts a Follower of Corvus: an anonymous Birdfolk figure, who, in their namelessness, becomes the everyfolken who might choose to live their life in the “Keeping” traditions of the mythological figure Corvus.
Though M’na Kkaxe is of Hetchling origin, they display versatile and deeply immersed knowledge of ancient Birdfolk aesthetic themes in their choices to visually weave representational historical accuracy, stylized motifs, overlapping time, and mythological symbolism into the portrait of the unnamed Follower. In this manner, the artist is able to show both the temporal course and the inner conflicts of the depicted, as well as Corvus’s dominant themes of order, history, and analytical recordkeeping, while still presenting a unified whole.
Through these overlaps, the artist skillfully navigates both the sacrificial constraints in choosing the Follower life, but also the continuing emotional conflict as the figure resolves into their choice. The folken is shown wearing both the traditional, loose garb of a Follower, the cloth covered with feather prints denoting their Follower status; yet, the facial feathers of this folken is also shown wearing Flock motif paint, showing their previous life (a ritual usually discarded once a Follower has committed their lives to the generosity of Corvus). Their loose shift – another familiar outfit common to their desert past (mirrored through another overlap of time, as the Flat is shown behind the shoulders of a figure who normally would reside within the Hotlands) – becomes a window, showing the crash of the Kkaxe canyon (the traditional migration home of the Birdfolk) towards the Sea of Crows.
Additionally, the way directional symbolism is incorporated lends weight to this secret turmoil. Shown as part of the costume, on the range of the shoulders, are dominant elements of the directions for both Flat and Vessel, regions dominated by Birdfolk trade routes, and which would have most likely been home to many Followers in their previous lives. The direction of Egg hangs at the neckline, suggesting a pendant – a sentimental keeping – or perhaps even the internal heart feelings of its bearer. This is in contrast to the other directions and The World Line, which are incorporated into the frame of the image as less dominant elements.
However, the artist also uses the framework of stylized motifs to visually and symbolically position the figure: this encasement represents the calling’s hold on the Follower and their commitment to the generosity of Corvus. The egg shape framing the figure refers back to Birdfolk and their deep historical ties with the Long Face Corvus, and whose shape defines the placement of the directions and pose. At the apex of the image is the Eye direction, and the face of the figure is contained fully within the All Seeing Eye; they are shown as Left-looking in the manner of Corvus, reviewing the Known Path and reflecting on its choices, consequences, and context. The figure is positioned just slightly off-center in the image; the lack of centrality in this key position also defines the Follower’s commitment to Corvus, who is associated with odd numbers and weighted judgment, and whose numbers are shown in the framework’s upper corners.
At the sides of the framework are the stylized motifs of a spreading seedpod – a megaflora plant with origins in the Calderas of the Hotlands, and whose harvests are spread to the coast by way of the Kkaxe River Canyon – and the framework is footed by the upriver/downriver symbols, both of which show the commitment of the Follower to spread the generosity of Corvus among the Birdfolk. Even the choice of Flock motif – a pattern of stars, but stylized in the contemporary manner – while showing the Birdfolk’s struggle to relinquish their past, also displays a connection to night – which belongs to Corvus – as part of the figure’s dominant foundations from their very beginning.
15″ x 22″ Linotype print, 2015
This work was created for “Wish You Were Here: An Inbound Lands Welcome Center,” the Ranger Station installation at Montgomery Bell Academy, Nashville, TN, in which the gallery corridor was transformed into the educational wing of an Inbound Lands Ranger Station, and helped facilitate worldbuilding conversations with students to help flesh out and challenge Birdfolk creation myth and geographic formation. [ Jan 28-Feb 25th, 2015 ]