Alligators as Archetypes of Fear

I’ve been making art featuring wolves and their connectedness to humans for decades. For me, and many others, wolves symbolize the wilderness, freedom and a connection to nature that we all need and at some level, always crave. This connection keeps us in harmony with the earth, with other animals and our very selves.

But now I am painting alligators, animals that humans do not usually feel connected to. The main response they stir up is fear, and I was drawn to explore that reaction and how it fits into ancient archetypes that influence us. Here are some of my thoughts on alligators and two of my new gator paintings.

Swimming Near Gators

Alligators address our centers of fear. We cannot look to these animals for tenderness as we sometimes can with other fierce animals, such as wolves. Ancient people faced their fears by worshiping the fiercest animals, making them part of them in some way. By living with fearsome images, we pull up our warrior selves, as sometimes we must.  I am exploring fear and its ancient roots in these paintings from my ongoing series that I call Swimming Near Gators. Alligators have been on the earth over 200 million years, outliving dinosaurs by 65 million years. They were here to greet some of the first humans when they arrived a mere 200 thousand years ago. The fierce uncaring faces of alligators have been scaring people for a long time.

They fit perfectly with the idea of an archetype, a universal image that is deeply imbedded in the collective unconscious.

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