Once, during a rest, as we ate some bland slop and tossed a skin of water back and forth, I noticed our Drummer eying me. I was feeling briefly light-hearted as I watched the swift movement of the water skin above the heads of the crew. It was our game: the unwary would catch the goat skin in the side of the head. The old man stared at me across his meal of soft bread and small fish. He had apparently noticed my feet tap a song that had been running through my head, a song of childhood. He smiled.
My father was a smith. We lived in tiny Dodona in a house behind the forge. We lived with the beat of hammer and anvil, and the longer pulse of heating and cooling. Poor, we embraced the rhythms of starving awhile until we were no longer as hungry, of collapsing exhausted until we were merely tired. My mother foraged meals from thin air and I worked at the fire from a tender age.
Father made a living selling pins, hasps and latches for a few lepta each. He taught me how to repair broken tools. Craning past his massive arm, I watched him steadily beat the ripple pattern of circles on a copper sheet until it became a shapely pot, worthy of Hephaestus, whose hammer icon hung in the forge.
His master was a Guild smith, who died before father could be Journeyed. Father’s craft sprang from glimpses of techniques he was never taught, leveraged into what he needed to know.
Prey: The shroud that is the modern world requires us as a species to trade our primeval urges for polished surfaces, a carefully controlled construct to mask the suppression of our nature as animals. For underneath we all rage, quietly delighting in instinctive, unyielding behavior intrinsic and vital to our own ilk. It is only when we remove this polish to explore these denied implications that we ultimately succumb to our animal selves.
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Leilani Bustamante was born in Santa Rosa California and is a graduate of the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. She grew up between the suburban sprawl and rural Fort Bragg, where she draws inspiration from their simultaneous decay and growth. Her work often voices themes of mortality exploring elements of death, rebirth, beauty and spoil, the loveliness of the macabre and the mournful influence of osteological motifs. She currently lives and works in San Francisco.