I lay at the end of a pier on Caye Caulker. The electricity was off again, which is not unusual. Just trying to catch a breeze. It was quiet, no pestering boom boxes or street lights. The island asleep. The sky was so big and round, sparkling in the blackness above me, I flew upwards into the night.
Before beginning this series I studied the beliefs of the ancient Mayas recorded in their art and architecture as if they were a part of a fascinating alternate reality that had little relevance in my personal life. I did what I was supposed to do, keep an objective distance. Like the majority of people raised in a first world country, I was secure in the superiority of my world view. Preparing this work has changed my attitude. I now come to this alien world with respect and awe, knowing that the world view created by the Maya was, and is, just as powerful, meaningful and viable as my own.
To make this collection I had to reach inside myself to find both the empathy for their way of being and a method to communicate this to others. Because their way is spiritual, I had to discover my real feelings about spirituality and faith in the shared wisdom that guides daily life and conduct. I had to accept the significance of its supernatural reality and learn to play by the rules of its own logic.
Maya reality places humans at the center of the cosmos and makes humanity responsible for creation as an ongoing and endless process. I have only opened a window of understanding into what they have created.
Recurrent themes of K’ul and skyband appear in most of the hand-painted silk images that Vanderwalker has illuminated. K’ul can mean God, but also the indestructible soul spirit that imbues all living things and sacred places. Human K’ul resides in the blood, so blood giving sacrifices were to offer soul force. The Maya placed K’ul in their buildings and objects during dedication rituals. The Skyband consists of a narrow band divided into segments by bars. Each segment contains a glyph for the sun, moon, stars, planet or other celestial object.