EVENT- Charleston Library Society-“Cross Roads” Woodpecker Backdrop

This cloth stage performance backdrop was painted for Maura Garcia’s “CROSSROADS” interactive story-telling and dance project as part of the Unedited Series (sponsored by the Harold C. Schott Foundation), Charleston Library Society, Charleston, SC.

It was a re-make of a southeastern mound culture woodpecker pottery design, the Ivory Billed Woodpecker being the iconic bird of the southeastern region:

Below is an inspirational example of a Mississippian era shell gorget from Tennessee, c1000 AD. Crested woodpeckers guard the four directions that encircle the sun. Woodpeckers were symbols of war to the Mississippians. From the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, New York.

“Layers create intersections. What appears to be homogenous and known may actually have many hidden intricacies. Links exist between unconnected things. Take for example an ivory-billed woodpecker, a dance concert and a library: seemingly incongruous. However, what if the dancer is an American Indian and the ivory-bill traditionally an important bird for her people? What if a historic delegation of leaders from her tribe went to Charleston long ago to negotiate a treaty? What if the library is in Charleston, formerly a haunt of the bird? What if the library at one time housed important James Audubon illustrations, including a famous drawing of the ivory-billed woodpecker? And so it begins. The crossroads is the site of this phenomenon: the beginning of many stories.

Every story must have a focal point and the center of the CROSSROADS Project has been the Charleston Library Society. A historic library in a port town is an ideal place to explore intersecting stories. Though I did reference some written texts, I did not want CROSSROADS to be a research report, but rather a living, moving study developed from community interaction. It has evolved over the past five months, involving patron interviews, choreography surveys, a public blog and community movement workshops.

Every interaction with a new person has spawned more material. The CROSSROADS team, an insightful group of artists and community members, has created and inspired responses to this data. The putting together of all of this information has proven to be a wonderful challenge. Tonight’s performance is the culmination of this work.”

-Maura Garcia

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