December 29, 2019

Rota Fortunae: Extant/Extinction

Rota Fortunae: Extant/Extinction, 2019,  hand-stitched cotton thread on linen, 9"x6" 

This is my last finished piece of 2019. The idea for it came to me in 2018 when I was researching the tarot for my piece 'The Queen of Wands Contemplates Saturn's Return' and I discovered The Wheel of Fortune (La Rove De Fortune) card from the Tarot De Marseilles deck, circa 16th century. On it are three fantastical and intriguing creatures that can represent luck or destiny, as well as the ever changing cycles we go through in life. The card has been modeled ever since the tarot's inception in the 15th century after the medieval concept of Rota Fortunae, the wheel of the goddess Fortuna. 

The theme of my version is the sixth extinction, and I stitched three different animal species and positioned them on the wheel according to their conservation status. On top is the Golden crowned kinglet, a bird that is thriving in population and also has a 'crown', reflecting the animal on the top of the Marseilles card. Going down on the left side is a critically endangered Red wolf, which is nearly extinct with fewer than 50 living in the wild. Heading back up on the right side of the wheel is an Island night lizard, which has made a dramatic comeback from its earlier endangered status. 

I made the spokes on the wheel into thermometers that surround a central earth to indicate the warming planet. The top of the piece has the words 'extant/ extinction' and I incorporated the card's number- Roman numeral X- into the word 'extinction'. I stitched these words in a similar color to the background so that you have to look carefully to see them. Many versions of the Wheel Of Fortune have a winged figure in each corner, and I placed wing-like shapes in this piece as part of the overall background design.

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