Image Correspondence #21

On a recent winter day, I visited Douglas Dawson at his gallery in downtown Chicago.  I couldn’t help but think of episode 131, Genesis Object.

Since the early 1980s, Douglas Dawson’s gallery has specialized in exhibiting, collecting, researching, and teaching about ancient and historic tribal art. On occasion, the gallery also exhibits work from contemporary artists.

Acheulean_MG_2628[Photo: Kate Joyce, Morphologically Acheulean hand axe, Saharan Africa (Niger, Libya, Mauritania), 250,000-65,000 BC]

The current exhibition was a beautiful and intriguing selection of jewelry from metalsmith Kiff Slemmons. This newest body of work from Slemmons includes pendants, brooches and necklaces that incorporate found objects, finely hand-crafted silver and small Neolithic Saharan carved stone points.

Kiff_Slemmons_MG_2676[Photo: Kate Joyce (Jewelry by Kiff Slemmons) Bone Grip, silver, beach bone, Neolithic stone point, 2014, (Background stone) Flaked flint axe, Sahara desert, 150,000-65,000 BC]

Kiff_Slemmons_MG_2685[Photo: Kate Joyce (Jewelry by Kiff Slemmons) Peel and Core, silver, bone, found tool, Neolithic stone points, 2014, (Background stone) Flaked flint ceremonial axe, Denmark, 3,400-2,800  BC]

The Neolithic stone points are culturally, spiritually, and historically charged objects, and Slemmons and others have spoken eloquently about them here, here and here. For this exhibit, Slemmons selected a variety of stone tools from Dawson’s home, including authentic Oldawan tools and Acheulean hand axes, and paired them with her modern jewelry pieces.

Kiff_Slemmons_MG_2707[Photo: Kate Joyce (Jewelry by Kiff Slemmons) Toggle Point, silver, Eskimo tool fragments, mastodon ivory, 2015, (Background stones) Oldawan period choppers, East Africa, ca. 1.2 million years BP]

Kiff_Slemmons_MG_2731[Photo: Kate Joyce (Jewelry by Kiff Slemmons), silver, Neolithic stone point, 2014, (Background stone) Pecked tools, basalt, Niger, ca. 8,000 BC]

Ever since he was a child growing up in the rural Midwest, Douglas Dawson has been captivated by all manner of ancient stone tools. Dawson showed me his selection of Acheaulean hand axes, and as he unpacked the carved stones he remarked, something to the effect of, “They are so undeniably human.” It was incredible being able to spend time with objects that were made by humans so unfathomably long ago.

Inspired by Slemmons’ combination of ancient tool and modern ornament, I photographed the stones as though I was “wearing” them.

Acheulean_MG_2639_diptych[Photo: Kate Joyce Morphologically Acheulean hand axes, Saharan Africa (Niger, Libya, Mauritania), 250,000-65,000 BC]

Acheulean_MG_2630[Photo: Kate Joyce Morphologically Acheulean hand axe, Saharan Africa (Niger, Libya, Mauritania), 250,000-65,000 BC]

Kate Joyce is a Chicago based artist, architectural photographer, and the first image correspondent for 99% Invisible. Every two weeks, Joyce will release new and original work for specific episodes. She’ll also comb through her archive to find previously made photographs that are already in thematic conversation with current and past episodes. “I’m curious to see how audio will shape image and image will shape audio and what that will mean to telling stories about design over time,” Joyce says.

Now You See It  is a photography project of 99% Invisible. We’d like to create a public dialogue by offering our listeners a new way to interact with our show, as well as their own immediate environment. The project includes the Image Correspondent Residency with Kate Joyce, and ongoing photo assignments for listeners.

We want to see what you hear! Submit your images to our Flickr Group, or email them to [email protected] or put them on Instagram with the hashtag #99PI. We’ll be curating and presenting our favorites on our Instagram and Tumblr.

  1. Hello, below one of the pictures the caption says “eskimo” tool. I may be wrong but shouldn’t it be Inuit? As far as I know they don’t like to be called eskimo…

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