Raymond Noesen - Artist

Mayan Monday



This last summer 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. This is the beginning of that project I am calling Mayan Mondays.

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 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.

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 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 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 with 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.

Placed within or around the box is my offering for that week. The offerings will be objects that reflect my time spent in Mexico either from this trip or previous ones. 

It seems only fitting that I start Mayan Mondays with a toast as a welcome to the New Year. On this trip, when we arrived at the resort we were staying in, we were greeted with a glass of cold cucumber water called Pepino. It is wonderfully refreshing. I offer this up to you today with a wish of a Happy and Healthy New Year! This week begins with the seating of Pop and goes to day five. I know that tomorrow begins the winter solstice but this is Mayan  Mondays not Mayan Tuesdays. Let the Mayan Mondays begin!

 Mayan Monday #1. Oil and wax pastel on Colourfix paper. 9” x 12”. 




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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