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“Working Gods” A Gallery Exhibition by Greg Shafer
October 22, 2022 @ 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Working Gods is a mythological pantheon that explores the trade off between the safety that civil society brings and the dangerous but creative chaos that brought it forth. Working Gods depicts a celestial family living and working together on a farm or orchard. The orchard is surrounded by a river, and the river protects and separates it from the outer darkness, the unknown and uncontrollable wilderness from which everything arises.
Working Gods could belong to any early agricultural society, and is amalgamated from bits and pieces of several mythologies. As humanity began to leave the chaos and darkness of nomadic life, we began to sow seeds, and discovered agriculture. A more predictable and consistent system by which we could feed ourselves. We invested our scarce resources in these places, and thereby developed attachments to them. Through these attachments, we learned new fears. We fear that the fruits of our labor might be destroyed by labor or stolen by others. We invented property, fences, labor, and safety. We developed laws to protect ourselves and our property from each other, that we might live peaceably and predictably together in cages of habitual thought and behaviors. Stable communities formed, and then cities. We forgot our beginning outside the boundaries we had raised to protect ourselves, and the path of our heritage grew dim. From our warm, well-lit halls and carefully ordered crops, we looked back into the darkness beyond the river with fear and intrigue. Our eyes adjusted to the light, and the darkness of the night became foreign and frightening. The wealth and safety we created is undeniable. Yet though our minds fail to remember, our spirits grieve the absence of our freedom in the wilderness but fear its unpredictability and bizarre, forgotten rules.
Working Gods is about balancing human needs that are mutually exclusive. Freedom and Safety. Individuality and Society. Compassion and Protection.
Working Gods is about the hope that the Gods are like us, working, sweating, trying to make it. That they still love us, and even like us, and share in our suffering as we try to make the bread and keep ourselves warm together.