Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Petroglyphs, Pictographs Inspire New Art Drawings Reinterpret Ancient Images

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Petroglyphs, Pictographs Inspire New Art Drawings Reinterpret Ancient Images

Article excerpt

Last spring, on an expedition into the mountains and canyons of the Southwest, Dennis Ringering began to fuse archaeology and contemporary art.

Ringering, a professor of art at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, explored sandstone and basalt rock faces in New Mexico and Utah, searching for images of animals carved and painted there by tribes of hunting people as long as three millennia ago.

Exploring sites in Three Rivers, New Mexico, Canyonlands National Park, Utah, and elsewhere, the artist and his wife, Karen, extensively photographed petroglyphs - which are images carved or etched into rock surfaces - as well as pictographs, or rock paintings.

More importantly, Ringering formed visceral impressions of these renderings of elk, deer, mountain goats, fish, birds and other animals.

Upon returning to his studio near Collinsville, he drew upon those impressions to create a series of drawings, which are currently on exhibit in SIUE's University Center Gallery.

"My primary interest in petroglyphs was visual," the artist said in a recent interview. "I've always been interested in symbols that man makes. I went to graduate school out at the University of Colorado, at Boulder," Ringering added. "I lived out there for three years and did some exploring then, at places like Mesa Verde.

"Since then I made repeated trips back to the West, through the mountainous areas. And I became increasingly aware of the petroglyphs. Finally, I decided to focus on them, as an artist."

Although before heading west Ringering researched some of the archaeological aspects of his venture, he said the wealth and variety of the petroglyphs and pictographs he encountered astonished him.

Ringering believes that the animal images carved and painted onto rock formations in the American West are related, spiritually, to animal images associated with traditional cultures from around the world - including the famous and much older images of bison, deer and other herd animals painted on cave walls in southern France. …

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