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I lived in Hawaii in my 20's and learned how to build free standing dry stack rock walls, referred to as hakahaka walls. These walls were built around a home as a landscape element or to demarcate property, but they also held an ancient symbol of protection and strength. One such wall I built held back a lava flow.

“He Hakahaka”, the bind that holds all in place. 

The craft required solving a visual and structural problem, patience and time finding the perfect rock to fit the previous rock stacked, and tenacity to see the project through. Sometimes I'd place a dozen rocks before seeing that one of the previous rocks wasn't meant to be where it ended up. I’d then dismantle the whole thread and start anew from that point. In the frustration, I found creative fire.

The walls were teaching me how to see- the bind that held my artistic vision in place.

My work continues to be bound and rooted in a connection to ancient place and practice. It's an attempt to communicate primordial inner impressions into form, to point to what I’m made of- the nature of my being,  freedom and innocence, and a microcosm of the world itself. 

Cynthia Spillman is an Aptos, Ca. based painter.  

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