Michael Childress: Navigation Paintings (Big Red & Shiny, 02/19/13)
In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, past Hawaii but before Japan, is a collection of landmasses called the Marshall Islands.
When the Europeans finally came calling in the early 16th century on their exploration ships there was trepidation, but having been settled by the natives since the second millennium BC, John Marshall discovered not only a deep understanding of the land but also the water. Traveling only by canoe, the Marshallese would use stick charts to map the 1,156 islands and islets surrounding them.
Traditional stick charts not only mark the location of islands through placement of white shells, but they also note wave direction. This was done by lying in the bottom of the canoe and feeling the motion of boat in the water.
Traditional stick charts of the Marshall Islands and their means of creation became the starting point for artist Michael Childress for a cerebral journey.