Sophia del Rio

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Waiting for the Fire to Start

Goldmark Cultural Center, Dallas, TX

Works on paper, Ceramics

While working in New Mexico, I came across a seed pod with a sinister appearance – the “Devil’s Claw.” It’s known in the southwest and considered to be a danger by ranchers as it can trip up cattle, leading to broken legs. Usually, it’s wooden whips find their way around an ankle, like a bracelet to be carried long distances.

The black tailed jackrabbit was everywhere in the desert, wandering. I considered how the rabbit and the devil’s claw might influence the outcomes in the desert landscape. A seed dropped here, and possibly it grows, possibly it doesn’t. The seed became a symbol of dormant potential. The jackrabbit is a conscious, wakeful traveler. The desert is a portal, with pockets of shade, plants and places to visit that call to the rabbit.

As I was working on developing these ideas, I was called home by my own father. We spent some days together. I left. He had a successful suicide.

The work changed. The rabbit became my father and sometimes myself, searching for joy. The seed became both a burden slowing the rabbit down, a duty to be carried, but also a nascent possibility. The desert became an actor in the rabbit’s life, a portal, a beckoning, a question of destination. The rabbit is born into the desert, and knows only the desert, and the desert is too expansive to ever be fully known. The landscape provides a sense of hope, paired with a daunting task of searching and finding that hope.