Be small, Be Fast, Be Fierce



Be small, Be fast, Be Fierce

resin, wood, glass eyes, paint

22 inches X 18 inches X 13 inches

The Aztec god of war was named Huitzilopochtli, which translates to "Blue Hummingbird on the left". Because hummingbirds defend their territories so fiercely, the Aztecs believed that dead warriors came back to life as hummingbirds. Native only to the western hemisphere, some hummingbirds migrate thousands of miles, wintering in Mexico, where they are celebrated on the Day of the Dead as returning souls. Click here for more hummingbird mythology. With the exception of insects, hummingbirds in flight have the highest metabolism of all animals. Their heartbeat can reach as high as 1260 beats per minute. They can, however slow down their metabolism, entering a hibernation-like state called torpor.

several years ago, I was in Los Alamos visiting The Black Hole, a surplus store where I get some materials, and I found what I thought was a dead hummingbird. It had flown in through a broken window, and had gotten trapped in the building. He was covered with cobwebs, and as I picked him up, I saw him move a little. Carrying him in my closed hand, I walked to the store on the corner and got a packet of sugar. I mixed up a sugar/water solution in a jar top, and kind of stuck the bird's beak into it. After a minute or two, he started flopping his long tongue into he sugar water himself. He sat in my hand for about an hour and a half, eating and gradually testing his wings. He then flew a little ways away, sitting on a tree branch for about twenty minutes, then flew off over the treetops. It was awesome.

This piece had the most complex, technological construction process of any in this show. I started with a three-dimensional digital scan of myself that I got done in Los Angeles at Cyber F/X. They made (and shipped) me a foam positive, using a large computer-controlled milling machine and the digital scan information, . I then made a latex and plaster mold of the foam positive. I experimented with for different types of resin to get the look that I wanted, ending up with polyester resin. The resin was painted into the mold in about ten coats, with the carved wood hummingbird placed in the resin after a few coats. The piece then needed sanding and finishing.



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2007 Erika Wanenmacher