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This work is by Teresa J. Wilber.
“Muscogee-Creek Lord’s Prayer”

22” x 30”  
Mixed Media (Walnut Ink, Gouache, 23K Gold)

One of my completed assignments for Reggie’s year-long course was this featured piece, created after studying Fredrich Neugebauer’s built-up caps, the alphabet-de-jour in May. It is entitled, "Muscogee-Creek Lord's Prayer," which was executed on 22"x 30" Arches Text Wove paper. Initially, the background was stained with walnut ink, applied with a broad brush, letting it set just a few minutes, before I dabbed the wetness with wadded-up tissues to create an aged, leather look. After applying lightly drawn chalk lines on the background to be used as temporary guidelines, the lettering was written in walnut ink, with a Speedball B-3 nib. The base lettering was written out in one sitting, followed by the "fine-tuning” and squaring of corners with the EF66 nib, in three sittings (requiring magnification).  

During the 2007 “Reggie-year,” I was attending classes at the university to obtain my degree and for my foreign language requirement I had selected The Muscogee-Creek Language & Culture. So, my concept for the monthly assignment was to use the text of a foreign language to feature more texture of letterforms, rather than readability. After completing the stacked lettering, I wanted to include a simple illustration. However, upon further research, I learned that traditional tribal images of the stomp dance, green corn, or shell shakers shown along with a Christian prayer would be considered a cultural faux pas. So, I designed an illustration based simply on the natural elements of earth, wind, fire, and water, also, including the moon and the sun. Along with two feathers in the upper corner, the green shapes placed in the lower portion represent the ceremonial mounds that the Creeks have built. I also included a Christian plow, a biblically-based image, which the Creek Nation accepts and can be found on their traditional tribal seal.  

Even though there was no written language, it was the dedication of the Europeans that led to the preservation of the Muscogee language. The Europeans learned the native language, assigned an inventory of letters based on the phonetical sound of the Creek language, and, then taught the natives to read their own language. To the left of the illustration of this piece, the literal English translation of the prayer is written in tiny yellow lettering. The title is lightly written above and below the illustration to not detract from the texture of the text.
This piece was completed May 31, 2007.
Image: © 2007 Teresa J. Wilber

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