Photograph by Aaron Johanson

Maker Unknown (Lucky Turtle), 2014

Maker Unknown (Lucky Turtle),
Each: 1.5 × 2 × 1 in.
Cast iron, edition of 49
Photograph by Aaron Johanson

While visiting the Northwest, my grandmother, Maxine Clark Maybee (Uksodgowan), found a unique stone on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. We are not sure if the stone’s shape is a result of carving or nature; it may have been a fishing weight. We do know that Grandma liked to carry it in her pocket and referred to it as her ‘lucky turtle’. It feels comforting to hold.

After my grandmother’s death, the stone was passed onto her namesake, my daughter Maxine Sibley McIsaac. Prompted by its story and the desire to honor my grandmother’s memory, I decided to make a mold and cast multiples of the stone with the idea of giving one to each of my aunts and uncles to mark the one-year memorial of her passing.

Upon Grandma’s passing, we learned that her Seneca name was Husdo, which is faintly inscribed on the cast-iron version. I think this object contains Grandma’s wisdom, humor, and spirit. The edition is 49; a number divisible by 7, which references the Iroquois teaching of Seven Generations. Most of the edition has been reserved to share with friends who embody the spirit of my grandmother: a proto-feminist who embraced family, extended family and a sense of curiosity about the world. Uksodgowan had an adventurous spirit. Rocks near water tend to move around and yet stay put; they have hard exteriors (strong wills) and persevering tendencies – not unlike my grandmother.

This sculpture may be: carried in one’s pocket; situated on its wool and blanket-binding satin pocket, or it can hang from the wall (tied to the enclosed embroidery floss and suspended by the square nail, similar to a plumb-bob).


Photograph by Aaron Johanson

Installation of three stones

Photograph by Aaron Johanson

Showing the stones hanging from a square-head nail.