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TotemConstruction: Aluminum
Dimensions: 10' wide x 26' high
Artist: Catherine Ferguson
Location: West Side, W. Dale Clark Library
Installed: 2004

Totem pays homage to the prehistoric people of central North America who facilitated their economic, social and religious community life by building massive earthen sculptures.

The animals shapes depicted in Totem are recorded in The Iowa Effigy Mound Manifestation: An Interpretive Model by R. Clark Mallam, University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist, 1976. The effigy mounds were earthen representations of mammals, reptiles, birds and geometric forms along the Upper Mississippi River built by hunting and gathering people prior to 1300 A.D.

While carefully replicating the ancient shapes of the earth effigy mounds, the contemporary Totem was fabricated of aluminum with the aid of computers and the calculations of engineers.

Since Ferguson discovered Mallam's book at the W. Dale Clark Library she has created several sculptures based on effigy animals. Totem, finished in 2004 is the sixth in the series.

Totem was commissioned by the Omaha Public Art Commission with funds donated by the J. Doe Project.

(transcribed from pamphlet, L. Sullivan August 2005)

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