Heartwaters -Caretaker Woman

Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center

When looking at the headwaters site, the vision I see is of a woman standing with cupped hands around a bowl (Lake Itasca) with the life force of the headwaters spilling out of the bowl and the Anishinabe symbol of natural  life, the turtle, standing watch over these headwaters.

The woman and turtles are on a drumhead, the drum symbolizes the heartbeat of the Anishinabe Nation, it is the heartbeat of the water which flows from the heartland of this continent.

The woman figure that I have created is a reflection in the water, her flowing hair is the waters' flowing currents. In Anishinabe tradition the women are the caretakers of the water so the sculpture surely  must be of a woman at this important site. 

When visiting the headwaters of the Mississippi, one imagines the long journey ahead for the waters to reach the end of the journey those many miles to the south.  On the beginning of its journey the river faces all four directions with south the last and final direction of that journey.  This is no different than one of my people making an offering to the four directions before starting on a long trip or voyage.  It is asking for a safe and pleasant journey.

When most people visit the headwaters, they reach down and cup the water in their hands and let it flow through their fingers to join the rest of the water on the beginning of its long journey to the Gulf of Mexico.

I have made this sculpture for the people to touch and run their fingers over, to bring a time worn smoothness to the "Headwaters Caretaker Woman", like running water through your fingers