Shields have been used since warfare began. Ancient armies used shields to protect their bodies from harm. They often adorned their shields with graphic symbols and color that identified or told a story about the warrior of old. The ancient shields were the inspiration for my Sacred Shields. Like the ancient shields, the sacred shield is also used for protection. Whereas the warrior’s shield protects his physical body, the sacred shields protect a person’s soul from injuries and loss. Visually displayed on the shield are its owner’s lifeline, relationships and family interactions.
Each shield begins with the outside circle the “circle of life” which represents the lifeline. Within the circle we see the relationships this individual has had via lines that intersect within the circle. Sometimes the lines are long, sometimes short depending on the length of time of the relationship. Ladders represent career paths or attempts to move ones life in a new direction. Holes (white or black patches) represent grave injuries and loss. The aging process is revealed through the use of texture and color. These Sacred Shields provide the viewer a look into the very being of another exposing the hidden complexities of a life. Even though someone had the appearance of an “easy” life by removing the outside façade we see the hidden pain and loss.
My Sacred Shields have been influenced by individuals my life has crossed paths with. They are a visual representation of each individual’s personal journey through life. I know these paintings are working when they make me feel uncomfortable.
Steven-john mchugh, P.O. Box 164, La Pointe, WI 54850