Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cry Baby

Cry Baby was another piece I did for Generation YZE group gallery show curated by the ever talented Mary Henrikson at the Main Street Art Gallery in Ketchikan, Alaska, Oct. 2012.

Hearing Tlingit Myths and folk tales growing up in Ketchikan was a rather visceral experience in bringing the areas geography and ancient people to life. Tales in the dim lush and musky rain forests, the briny stench of low-tidal kelpy shores, along the dead reed rivers and silt choked sloughs of the wilds really brought a sense of forboding and a deep dark history that still lingers to this day. Stories of Shaman and Kushtakas (aka Land Otter People) trying to co-exist and outsmart each other were always intriguing and got my mind going to places unexpected.

The story Cry Baby was always a horrific example of the crafty and dastardly ways of the Kushtaka that has stuck with me. What I find compelling of this tale is that it's a retelling of a something that happened, with no moral or stigma attached. The outcome is gruesome and stark and it leaves one feeling as empty as the Cry Baby. It was what inspired this image.

Here is a version of the story I was able to find documented online at

In the town to which these people belonged once lived a little boy who was always crying. His parents tried to rear him properly, yet he cried, cried, cried all the time. Finally his father shouted out, "Come this way DjînAkAxwA'ts!a. a Pull this boy away, for he cries too much." Toward evening he repeated the same words, and this time a land-otter-man behind the house shouted out stutteringly, "Bring my grandchild here and let him eat gAlkAdaxA'k!u to keep him quiet." So the little boy was taken away and given what appeared to him to be blackberries.
Two days afterward they began searching for him, and they finally found him far up in the woods. When they brought him down he had a big belly and did not cry as loudly as he had before, so they thought that something was wrong. Then they boiled some dried salmon and gave him broth made from it. The heat of this broth expelled all of the small creatures that had been given him to eat under the appearance of blackberries. Spiders began running out of his mouth, cars, nose, eyes, and buttocks. His insides were filled with them, and they had eaten out all of his flesh. When these were expelled, nothing was left but the skin which they threw away.

NOTE: There is a name and a word that has been substituted with what appears to be random letters, and if anyone has any insight as what these are supposed to be, it would be greatly appreciated.


No comments:

Post a Comment