The project / by santiago cal

Forty Rings by Santiago Cal


On May 4th, 1973, I was born blue and not breathing in a small hospital on the western border of Belize, Central America. Hopefully, on the 4th of May, 2013, I will be standing six feet tall and working in the basement of Richards Hall, Lincoln, Nebraska. This fortieth year of my existence has prompted me to sculpturally explore the time that I have been breathing. I will be gleaning from my memories and global events to create forty wooden figures, one representative for each year.

The objective of this research is to use myself as a parameter for a spectrum of ideas. Each must bear significance on the shaping of my character and understanding of life. Each figure will be engaged with an object or group of objects to represent the subject being explored. Although I have not charted all forty subjects, a few examples are as follows: Year One- As a newborn my mother took me home from to hospital to hear a strange and loud hum entering the house. The sound turned out to be a colony of army ants on the move and our home was in the path of their destruction. She used a burning rag soaked with kerosene on the end of a broom handle to detour them. The carved figure representing this year will be an infant being cuddled by two army ants (interestingly enough, later the MS-13 Gang is named Mara Salvatrucha after the Salvadorian army ant). Year Six- Civil war breaks out in El Salvador. Belize is a safe haven for refugees and my new schoolmates arrive with violent stories, extreme poverty and scarred bodies. This figure will be of a child carrying a bundle of firewood twice his body size but with hands that are fused shut. Year Ten- On an alter boy retreat to Mexico, I witnessed our priest molesting several of my friends. Needless to say it was the end of my alter boy experience but also shattered my trust of religious leaders and was the start of my spiritual questioning. This figure will be of a child with a dove perched on his tongue.

Some other examples of years and subjects are:

Year Twelve- Ryan White and AIDS as I entered adolescence

Year Seventeen- Desert Storm and Army recruitment

Year Twenty Two- Internet and the Confederacy.

Year twenty Five- Crack and the Kids that gave me hope.

Year Twenty Nine- 9/11 and the Midwest

Although this project has tremendous personal significance, I believe that many will be able to relate to the experiences portrayed. This alone is not the objective; instead, I’d like individuals to consider their own timeline and how it fits into this brief history.  At minimum, I will be offering an artistic synopsis of this time with the hopes of reminding or educating others.