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    Curated: Noah’s Ark by Ralph Griffin, ca. 1980

    At the de Young

    “I go to the stream. I read the roots in the water, laying in clear water. There’s a miracle in that water, running across them logs since the time of Noah … I take a root from the water and have a thought about it, what it looks like, then I paint it red, black and white, to put a bit of vision on the root.”

    -Ralph Griffin

    Ralph Griffin is best known for creating sculptures from driftwood branches and roots that he retrieved from the Poplar Root Branch stream near his home in Girard, Georgia. Griffin’s Noah’s Ark, inspired by the Old Testament story (Genesis 6–9), renders explicit the artist’s statement that “all my work is like the Testaments.”

    This extraordinary visual conception appears to conflate the blue waters of the flood, the white sky and clouds, the blood red of the flesh destroyed in the deluge, and the black mountain where the ark came to rest in one abstracted, boat-shaped form.

    For Griffin, the apocalyptic associations of Noah’s Ark, which saved Noah and his descendants from destruction, may have foreshadowed the slave ships that later condemned Africans and their descendants to bondage in the Americas.

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