Mythology in Art
Carroll, Colleen, Arts & Activities
The art of Aboriginal Australia reaches back over 30,000 years. These ancient peoples depicted their world through iconography that included dots, geometric shapes, hand and foot prints, and renderings of plant and animal forms. Tribal artists mainly used ochre to create pigment; rock, bark, sand and the human body were their "canvases."
Many contemporary Australian Aboriginal artists, such as the painter of this month's Clip & Save Art Print, work within this traditional symbology, connecting their lives and art to the ancient belief referred to as Dreaming or Dreamtime.
"The Aborigines learned about the origins of the tribe through their Dreamtime creation myths, that told of the significant actions of the creators. [They] believed that the land they occupied was once vacuous--empty," writes Geoff Moore on www.aboriginalartonline.com.
"Then, during what has become known as the Dreamtime, the land, sky above, and all they contained were formed by the actions of supernatural and mysterious beings."
One of the most important beings in Dreamtime creation stories is the Rainbow Serpent. It is told that before the beginning of life a giant serpent lived beneath the earth's surface. Slowly, she travelled toward the surface until she emerged into the light. She travelled the earth, leaving deep tracks in the land.
When she tired, she curled up her enormous body and slept. When she returned to the place where she began, she summoned the frogs to the surface. She tickled their bellies, causing them to release the water they had been storing. This water filled the tracks and holes, forming the land's lakes and rivers. From the water sprang all plants, trees and animals, and thus the Rainbow Serpent is also call the Mother of Life.
In this month's Art Print, the artist depicts two Rainbow Snakes, possibly representing the female, Yingarna, who is the original creator, and the male, Ngalyod, who is believed to be the transformer of the land. …