When a girl from Chicago comes to the Southwest, people always stare. It seems that you can pick out a city girl no matter how hard she tries to blend in. Sometimes they ask why I am there and I get very strange looks when I tell them I’m doing archaeological illustrations for Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. Most people tilt their head and look at me with a puzzled expression. I don’t mind and explain that archaeology has interested me since I was five. After my first visit to the Smithsonian, a fascination developed and I began reading about it as much as I could. Ancient civilizations were, and continue to be, my favorite subject of inquiry.
I was given the opportunity to come to Crow Canyon’s High School Field School in Cortez, Colorado and after the first summer, I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough and returned the following summer! The experience opened my eyes to the real work of an archaeologist, not the romanticized Hollywood version. I loved it, but then something else in my life became important: my art. During high school, I entered my work in every competition I could find and to my surprise, I began winning!
When the time came to choose a college, I was torn between art and archaeology. I visited several schools and decided on the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago for visual communications. This career path, I hope, will allow me to pursue my passion for art and continue my interest in archaeology.
Last summer, I found a way to bring the two together and give back to Crow Canyon by creating archaeological illustrations for the Center. The staff made a list of concepts for me to bring to life through my art. My first task was los hornos, or the ovens, on campus. They had recently been used for the Feast Day and were warming up for a pottery firing. Then, I visited the lab and did technical drawings of artifacts. After that, I was back outside in the sun to paint the Lodge and the Pueblo Learning Center and draw the new Pithouse Learning Center.
The second week, I visited Goodman Point Pueblo to do illustrations of students excavating. Another project was to create lifestyle scenes from many of the time periods studied in this region: Archaic, Basketmaker, and Pueblo I through V.
In the future I plan to use my experience at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center to further my career in archaeological illustration. My goal is to help people visualize what artifacts and sites look like today - and what they may have looked like hundreds or thousands of years ago. I believe art can help make people aware of the value of archaeological sites, encourage people to learn more about our past, and develop better environmental stewardship. All my artwork was given to the Center in return for the opportunity to enjoy two incredible weeks at Crow Canyon. In 2002, when I was a kid there, there was no Pueblo Learning Center, no Pithouse Learning Center. This summer, I got to see how the Center has grown. I also learned how I have grown in my love for art and archaeology.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.