Today I headed into the studio to get some thoughts organized in my sketchbook and meet with an artist organized by SOMA, Balam Bartolome. It was good to discuss my forming ideas with him. We talked about our interests in Aztec mythology, and he told me about how the Aztecs had been looking for this place (Mexico City) for 300 years, that they were looking for this place that the gods told them to come to. The Mexica/Aztec were said to be guided by their god Huitzilopochtli, meaning “Left-handed Hummingbird” or “Hummingbird from the South.” At an island in Lake Texcoco, they saw an eagle holding a rattlesnake in its talons, perched on a nopal cactus. This vision fulfilled a prophecy telling them that they should found their new home on that spot. The Aztecs built their city of Tenochtitlan on that site, building a great artificial island, which today is in the center of Mexico City. This legendary vision is pictured on the Coat of Arms of Mexico.
It seems that this “baby” whom I have been discussing that was miraculously conceived with the ball of feathers—Huitzilpochtli– killed his half-sister Coyolxauhqui by tearing out her heart using a Xiuhcoatl (a blue snake) and throwing her body down the mountain. This was said to inspire the Aztecs to rip the hearts out of their victims and throw their bodies down the sides of the temple dedicated to Huitzilpochtli, who represents the sun chasing away the stars at dawn. The stories are all rather gory… also beheadings. It was believed that only through their sacrifice that the sun would be set into motion and time as well as history could begin. We discussed how people live amongst this history today and how it is nothing much to them, something that is simply “there”, and not really paid attention to.
Balam was mentioning to me his interest in symbols and pulled a coin out of his pocket with the symbol of this eagle on it, mentioning how people carry this myth with them each day without much understanding of it. I am interested in this the passing of history in this way and the understandings and misunderstandings of it, even amongst people that are from this place.
By the end of our meeting and the day, I was feeling more confident about my ideas regarding incorporating some of these epic Aztec myths into my own work, exploring this intermixing of histories, cultures and time.
In the meantime, I continue to think out ideas as I await the arrival of my stretchers on Monday… Thanks to Matt I have a painting pallet or two. I take it as a good sign that this glass pallet has an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on it.