Mud Ladies


When I began work on the Room of the Muses and my masks, I also took a hard look at my back yard. It was no more than a piece of bare ground. I saw that it, too, had to be transformed. The muse could not be expected to live in such prosaic surroundings.

I had very little money. I decided to create a back yard using the material that was already there: the earth itself. I started digging a 12' by 22' hole. The dirt I mixed with pine needles and water, in a wheel barrow, using a hoe. I used this mixture to build walls: I made forms with some old lumber I had, and poured the mud into them. As the walls rose, I built ramps. At the highest level I had a ramp leading to a platform, and another ramp to take me to the top of the forms. My friend Wayne saw a house that was being torn down: it had 2x8 rafters. We salvaged the lumber for my own roof. A man sold me a trailer-load of old tin roofing for a hundred dollars. This hundred dollars was my entire cost to create this adobe room. The room is four feet deep in the earth. It stays cool all summer. I later added a cast iron stove, to keep it warm in the winter.

As I completed the adobe room, I decided to enclose my entire yard with adobe walls. I dug another hole, this one eight feet deep, and used this dirt for the walls. The hole I turned into an underground room. The adobe walls, however, needed some ornamentation. I decided to make more bas reliefs, only this time of adobe. I created the figures of three archetypal women: a snake-woman, an eagle-woman, and a jaguar-woman. I painted them, but otherwise left them exposed to the weather. Over time they became degraded. They looked like ancient ruins.

I have recently decided to rebuild them, and have added a roof to give them some protection from the weather. Over the last few months I have been layering mud over flanks and breasts. I'll be recording my progress in new photos and videos...





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