From the Artist
In the deserts of Arizona, the magnificent Saguaro cacti has long endured and absorbed various aspects of its environment. It has served as a sentinel, watching over its desert surrounds; as a haven for the birds, insects, and rodents that share the environment; as a useful source of liquid and nourishment for those in need. [It has also] provided mankind with stately images which epitomize the spirit of the west.
In its "dieback" stage the candelabrum-shaped branches may break off leaving an amputated structure, while the body or main shaft of the Saguaro deteriorates (somewhat like decaying watermelons). In this stage, the Saguaro projects a presence that conjures up images of humans, animals, and plants as well as mysterious unknown forms. The decaying of its outer shell and the sap-like bleeding over its marked, spine-tipped surface slowly takes over to transform the structure and metaphorical release of its inner spirit.
One is immediately reminded of the fragility of all living creatures, of watching helplessly as age and disease slowly take away the vitality and essence of life from those we know and love...Clinging to life, the Saguaro in [the] dieback stage reaffirms its quiet sense of dignity and strength while at the same time projecting the perception that it echoes the pain, sorrow, fears, and desires experienced by humans.
It is from these references that I have developed the images and associative ideas that feed the Saguaro Spirits series. Started in 1996, the series has progressed from a focus on three Saguaro cacti to a grouping of whole "villages" (forests) of cacti that seem to mimic humanistic actions and expressions as though this species has melded with human culture.
While most of the works in this series have been strong black and white charcoal drawings, a few side trips into acrylics and occasional oil pastel drawings have occurred over the past few years. The works produced at Brandywine [Workshop and Archives, Philadelphia] provided an opportunity to utilize the offset lithography process for the first time. As such, the exploration with translucent inks and the process of guiding the image through several stages has enabled the work to articulate a more subtle and more somber presence filtered through layers of color.
—From Brandywine Workshop and Archives records
Larry Walker retired as professor emeritus in December 2000 after some 17 years of service with Georgia State University's School of Art and Design, including 11 years as the school's director. He has always been, and promises to remain, active wi...Read More ⟶