We are saddened to report Karen's peaceful passing on Monday, May 30th, 2011, after a long batter with cancer.
There is information about Karen at http://karenaqua.com, including a link for purchasing a compilation DVD of all of her work.
The film "Ground Zero / Sacred Ground" was conceived and inspired by my experiences in New Mexico, in the southwestern United States. In the 1990's , I spent a number of months there as an Artist-in-Residence at the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program. A few weeks after my arrival in New Mexico, I visited the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site. This site, located in southcentral New Mexico, contains over 10,000 petroglyphs, created by the Jornada Mogollon people between 900 and 1400 A.D.
It was late afternoon, and the golden light enhanced and defined the petroglyphs. I had the sense that the rocks were alive, and that I was surrounded by a world filled with power, spirit, and mystery. As the sun set behind the western horizon, a full moon was rising to the east above the snow-covered peak of Sierra Blanca. From the commanding vantage point of this high ridge of petroglyph-covered rocks, one had a 360-degree view of a vast landscape, with a sky changing from day to night above it. This was truly sacred ground.
For me, the power of the petroglyphs is heightened by their sense of place within the landscape. These are not artifacts on display in a museum, removed from their original setting and context. Rather, we can witness these images in the environment in which they were created: under the same sky, sun, and moon...facing the same mountains, walking in the footprints of those who came before us. I am in awe of these rocks, these images created by human hands hundreds of years ago. Silently, wordlessly, they touch upon something timeless and enduring which lies deep within the human spirit, linking us all.
To the west of Three Rivers, beyond the Sierra Oscuras, lies the vast White Sands Missile Range. There, on July 16, 1945, the world's first atomic bomb was detonated. Ground Zero, the Trinity Site, lies a mere thirty-five miles from Three Rivers. The juxtaposition of these two sites points to the striking contrast between the two worlds which created them: one which accepts and reveres the power of the natural world, and the other which strives to control and manipulate the forces of nature.
During my time spent in New Mexico, I was struck by the presence of these contrasting worlds existing side by side. In 1992, in response to this experience, I began work on an animated film exploring these opposing forces and their relationship and effect on one another.
The film is a tribute to the petroglyphs and the culture which created them. It opens with a landscape of petroglyph-covered rocks, silent witnesses to the passing of the ages and the changes taking place on the earth. A cataclysmic event (the Trinity blast) takes place, releasing the images from the rocks. Springing to life, these released spirits unearth remnants of their past and reconstruct the ancient culture from which they came. Created in a time of harmony, balance, and respect for nature, they awaken in a time of disorder and imbalance. Once dormant relics of the past, the empowered rock images call into action the ancient rituals and wisdom to transform and rebalance the world.