Offerings of Ochre
LOCATION : SAN ANTONIO CREEK, NEW MEXICO
MATERIALS : WATER, RED OCHRE & WHITE VOLCANIC TUFF
Over the years when I lived in Albuquerque, NM I would make a pilgrimage to this location in the Jemez Mountains west of Santa Fe. In the caldera of an ancient volcano is a large meadow where the geological history is evident in its many forms. There are layers of a red clay that have weathered and eroded due to the wind and rain revealing the under laying geological layer of white volcanic tuff.
These geological features are unique in their own physical manifestation and every time I have encountered their presence on my journey to the hot springs I find myself admiring their beauty. The red ochre is common place in the landscape throughout the Jemez Mountains and the Jemez Pueblo was constructed with the clay to make adobe to the South. The volcanic ash was carved out to create dwellings and caves in the hillsides of Bandalier National Monument to the East.
During one visit to the hotsprings an intense monsoon dropped rain onto the landscape creating puddles of red clay. When I encountered the fine red clay levigating in the water from the recent rainfall I decided to collect some to use as a temporary offering upon the white volcanic tuff just down the trail. The contrast between the red upon the white reveals the nature between the two materials and brings to light their physical creation by mother nature. How these materials come to be is in some form a geological mystery. Science and in particular geology helps to explain how the earth was formed. The material culture of humanity within the past and present continues to use the very resources that nature has provided us. We as humans engage with their physical dynamics and create potential works of art or dwellings to live within. These materials and the environment in which they originate create a sense of place that must be honored and treated as an offering to humanity.