The Earthen Dove Effigy Mound- Article



Artist’s Statement:


          Birds in general and doves in particular have symbolized hopefulness and peace throughout the history of human life. They are the antithesis of war in a symbolic sense. A bird dispatched by Noah was the first creature to leave the ark and to find the flood waters receding.

          Birds prominently symbolize God’s relation to humans via the Holy Spirit in Christian scripture and art. The soaring flight of birds and the human effort to emulate that flight in a spiritual manner has always figured in other religions of the world as well. Egyptian mummy boxes were decorated with hawk designs. Ancient Mexican artists found strength in eagle plumes, and Native Americans, particularly in Wisconsin, often buried their dead in eagle-shaped mounds.

          There is a quiet, mysterious beauty to be found in contemplating the effigy mounds built by Native Americans at various places in Wisconsin. Standing on the back of the gigantic eagle effigy on the shore of Lake Mendota in Madison gives one a feeling of riding not the bird, but rather riding its shadow. An effigy mound is a simple and graceful tribute to nature.

          A Mourning Dove Mound would provide a peaceful source of contemplation for adults, and would enrich the imaginations of children playing on and around it. I see it as a new application of the ancient, even primal, symbol of the dove as a sign of peace. The Mourning Dove is appropriate for the veteran’s memorial in many other ways. It is a species native to Wisconsin. It is easily distinguishable from other birds of its type by its refined body shape and pointed tail. And its call is a melodic and comforting as it is mournful.

          On my first visit to the Moraine Park site a small gray Mourning Dove flew across the road as I drove to the park. It was my inspiration.

          Among the sad memories I hold of Vietnam is one which tells of naturally lush countryside that was burned, defoliated, and cratered by explosions. The construction of a Mourning Dove Mound might help, in a symbolic way, to fill some of these craters.                                     

                                                                                                                                                —- David Giffey