Raymond Noesen - Artist

About Mayan Monday



In the summer of 2021 I took another trip to Mexico’s Yucatan region. I was excited about this trip because we were going to see a recently discovered Mayan ruin call Ek Balam as well as Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza was a part of a Mayan ruin tour I did with The School of the Art Institute of Chicago when I was a student there. Unfortunately, I became ill as we arrived at the site and was unable to see the majority of it, so this trip completed that one. When I travel I like to make an art project that reflects my time spent there and examine some of the things I learned while there. These paintings reflect that project and I am calling the collection Mayan Mondays and they are about sacrifice and offerings.

Mayan Mondays is a year long project that will explore the word sacrifice. If you take a guided tour of any of the Mayan ruins, at some point there will be a discussion of sacrifice. The ultimate sacrifice, of course, being the offering up of a human being to the Gods. In the case of Mayan Mondays I use the word sacrifice to mean offering. Each week, for a year, I will do a painting done in a trompe l’oeil style that will contain the offering for that week. Each painting is executed using oil and wax pastel. The majority is in wax pastel. Each measures 9” x 12”.

This year long project will also look at, and follow, the Mayan calendar. The format for these paintings will be a simple box that will have the character of the Mayan month we are in painted on the back wall of the box. The days of the week we are in will be identified by a necklace that is pinned in and around the box by three push pins. The color of the pins are red, white and green. These are the colors of the Mexican flag.  The way to read the days in a Mayan calendar is simple. A single dot represents one day. Two dots together means it is the second day. It continues like that until five. Five is represented by a bar. From there you put the bars and dots together to equal the days you are in. For example, six is a bar (five) with a dot (one) on top of it. Ten is two bars on top of one anther. The necklace is a string of beads that use dots and bars to represent the days. The Mayan calendar has 18 months of 20 days (360) plus a month of five days called Uayeb, the unlucky days (365). 

The Mayan calendar begins at the winter solstice, Dec. 21. The month begins with zero, or the seating of the character for that month. Zero is represented by an oval image with two lines crossing the width of the upper portion of the oval. Some say it looks like a turtle on its back, but I think it looks more like a loaf of bread. In weeks where the new month falls within the week I will either use the zero character or an image of the character of the upcoming month.  

Placed within or around the box is my offering for that week. The first twelve offerings are objects that reflect my time spent in Mexico either from this trip or previous ones and are viewed head on meaning that the painting is directly in front of the viewer and the vanishing point is in the center of the painting.





Mayan Monday No. 2 Pop 6-12. While on this last trip to Cozumel/ Playa De Carmen we got the chance to see Cirque Du Soleil's Joya. It was spectacular! At one point in the show our attention was brought to the ceiling where thousands and thousands of small butterflies cut out of orange tissue paper fluttered down upon us. It was magical! Seeing the migration of the monarch butterflies in the jungles of Mexico is on my bucket list.





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