by Eric Whollem
earth pigments, casein, & watercolor on paper
Collection of the artist.
14" x 11"
Copyright by the artist.
A Sighting of Dos Sirenas At the Wharf
In 1977 I took my big trip to Mexico. I wanted to see Tiotehuacan and the
Aztec pyramids, not to mention the famous anthropology museum in Mexico
City. This museum experience was overwhelming. It was the great stylistic
variety in Mesoamerican ceramics and sculpture that impressed me. The
level of personal vision is extremely high among the ceramic artists of the
As a boy I had seen the anthropology exhibit at the De Young Museum in
San Francisco. This was a pivotal experience for me. If one examines my
ceramic sculptures one will notice a distinct interest in world folk art. (Also
the music that was played at the De Young exhibit (in the 1950's) was a
variety of tapes of ethnic music. The Peruvian exhibit had Peruvian Indian
music. The African ethnic exhibit had tribal music from Africa, etc. This
greatly impressed me, though the influence did not make itself felt until
I began collecting world ethnic music in 1973.)
Sirena is Spanish for mermaid. Some Indian groups in Mexico worship
sea goddesses and mermaids. A good example are the Huichol Indians
whose great Goddess is Tacutsi, who rose from the sea. In fact the Huichols
say that they as a people came from the sea, making them yet another tribal
group of merpeople.
Inca legends from Peru have it that the first of the Incas were dolphin people
who rose from the waters of Lake Titicaca. In California the Chumash Indians
are Dolphin People. Quetzalcoatl is a sea serpent god, which also places him
among the merpeople of the godworld. Kukulcan is the Mayan sea serpent
Mixed media painting, earth paints, Incas, Aztecs, Mayans, Huichol Indians, Chumash.