July 28, 2008

Trail of the Whispering Giants

Here's a series of sculptures that blows The American statue away in terms of artistry and originality: Peter Wolf Toth's "Trail of the Whispering Giants."

Peter Wolf TothPeter Wolf Toth (born December 1947) is a Hungarian-born sculptor who immigrated to the United States and settled in Akron, Ohio. He later studied art at the University of Akron. He created a series of sculptures called "Trail of the Whispering Giants" to honor Native Americans. Overall, he has created more than 60 sculptures, including at least one in each state of the United States and several provinces of Canada.Comment:  See also the locations of Peter Wolf Toth's Trail of the Whispering Giants and pictures of the Whispering Giant Sculptures.

For the most part, these sculptures aren't stereotypical. True, they all appear to be men with similar features. And many of them have feathers or other objects sticking up from their heads. But aren't Plains chiefs or half-naked warriors. And their clothing appears to be appropriate for the Natives of each area.

I find these sculptures far more interesting than the bland statue of The American. They're weird, almost surreal, like elongated ghosts rising out of the ground. The wood speaks of their ties to ancient lands and forests. The figures make you stop, look, and think. (I imagine they do, anyway. I've never seen one in person.) Once you see them, they're hard to forget.

Even the "Trail of the Whispering Giants" title is intriguing. "Giants" implies that these people were larger than life--better than us, somehow. "Whispering" implies that they're still teaching us about their cultures and values. We could learn from these whispering giants, if only we listened.

Does anyone think The American is better than Toth's sculptures? Speak now or forever hold your peace.

For more on the subject, see Best Indian Monuments to Topple.

Below:  "Crooked Feather" (Ocean Springs, MS) and "Sequoyah" (Cherokee Indian Museum, Cherokee Reservation, NC).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Rob - Peter Toth is in Desert Hot Springs this month working on California's last Whispering Giant (the one at Wind n Sea Beach weathered away). Why don't you go (and by "you" I mean everybody) go check it out. It's at Cabot's Pueblo Museum on Desert View: