The Hunters and the Bugs

 

The most recent work in the monster series began with the resolution of the loss of the Lion’s original partner.   Rather than a victim, I wanted a partner that could match the direct gaze and strong stance of that sculpture.  I chose for that roll a hunting partner.

Several questions were presented with this potential solution.  First was the look of monster, how much of the original partner would carry forward into this one?  The only element from that piece I lost that I felt was really too powerful to loose was the element I was unable to resolve, the bone arms.  To resolve this in the clay I first began with an anatomy study.  While I was not interested in super realism I wanted the bones to be clearly and immediately recognizable.  As always I worked with Human Anatomy for the Artist by Stephen Rogers Peck.  Working out the bones and the attachment points plus managing dryness of the individual elements was the main challenge of the monster.  After several lost attempts, I learned that both construction and attachment needed to happen at a stage dryer that I like to work.  This meant that there was a small amount of post firing repair required before the piece could be painted.

This decision brought the next question immediately to the fore.  Why the bones?  What is the history of the piece or the necessity of the manipulation?  To best answer this question a discussion of what the monsters hunt was necessary.  As always this began with a chat with my collaborator and BFF, Gabe.  How would the bone arm figure in to the hunt was the primary question.  To solve this the prey animal had to be invented.  The rules of the world dictated it be an exoskeletal animal that would move at a slower pace than the already slow monsters.  Rather than designing an animal to fit the criteria of the world and the monster, the method of the kill and the food source was decided and the bug was designed around those rules.

The bone arm is the only tool in the monster world.  She is the inheritor of one of the oldest families in the monster world.  This family has been responsible for securing the food for the entire tribe and making marks on important individuals for many generations.  Her father began to break the growing exoskeleton from the arm as it began to grow when she was a child.  She was also paired with her lion at that time.  The lion and hunter comprise a lifetime relationship which can be quite short.  The spikes of the queen bugs are very poisonous and most hunting pairs only hunt for a limited time.  Due to this mortality females are always chosen as hunters because they do not bear children.

The claw is used in the hunt as a pry tool.  The hunt begins with the pair hidden along a game trail.  Because of the limitations of speed in the world the pair rely on ambush.  The Lion attacks first and breaks the poisonous spikes from the Queen Bug’s body.  The Hunter then comes forward and pries the segments apart on the bugs body.  The edible part is between the two layers of the bugs bodies.  “Slip bugs” was the first title for them as I used gobs of the material, oozing from the joints of their bodies.  A queen is killed by breaking her body open and then she is turned to reveal her bright yellow underside, to indicate to the rest of the tribe where there next meal will be found.

The Hunter holds a primary position in her tribe.  With the Keeper of the dead and the Singer, she makes all important decisions of the monster tribe.

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