Hei Guys! Hei Guise / Earth Mounds, Stacks and Runes

Helen C Frederick received her BFA in illustration and her MFA in printmaking frin Rhode Island School of Design. Following the awrding of her advanced degree, she became assistant curator in education for the Museum of Art, where she helped co-ordinate the symposium Visual Perception. Later she taught at Hartwick Colllege, Oneonta, New York; at Dadi Wriz’s Atelier Garigues in southern France; and at Vernon Court Junior College, Newport. Her work has been exhibited in oneman and group shows throughout the United States and Euorpe, and selected works have been purchased for numerous private collections, also here and abroad. With the aid of a fellowship grant from the American-Scandinavian Foundation and a travel grant from the Fulbright-Hays program during1973-74, Miss Frederick was able to do research in Scandinavian countries and make prints and drawings, a selection of which traveled in the exhibition “Hei Guys! Hei Guise” throughout Norway and Denmark, to Brussels, Helsinki, and Reykjavik. ThisNovember it was shown at the American-Scandinavian Foundation in New York. “In this exhibition Helen Frederick’s prints,” said Per Haubro Jensen, a member of the staff at of the Aahus Kunstmuseet in Denmark, “ by use of abstract signs and symbols make one think of his landscape and culture with a new awareness. Haystacks, mounds, and runic inscriptions, three things that go far back in the culture of the Scandinavian people are transformed by her into signs of fertility and looked upon as a contract to the developed civilization.” Her own interpretation of this transformation follows.

In this Northern sun-lit silhouetted land of rusing water crying from melancholy mountain tops, of lush green forms falling to placid reflection on the pools of tears; and of the always reigning mystical forms of the earth mounds and hay guys, there lieas a great mysterious memory. The memory is that of our origin, of our collective beginning, of our archetypal awareness as creatures that grew in a once pure Mother Nature. The memory is that our collective efforts in working the soil for existence. The memory is that of homage to the earth, through fertility rites, by which the powers of nature were informed that farmers sought help in that vital occupation: farming. The memory is that of our ancestors put to rest under the vital earth in an honoured place so that they carried still a prominent position in the place of the living. The memory is that if incising signs of identity and vows of love upon an epitaph field stone.

As the Earth is cleared today by hard toil, of rocks and stumps and artifacts, to make place for the growing of hay, so it was cleared by our forefathers and it was sewn in the ancient tradition…so it was carefully re-built, by necessity, with the powerful forms of drying haystacks. These haystacks gleam in the sun and loom under the moon with a spiritual call. Because the bulk of Norway’s vast area cannot be made agriculturally fruitful, the stacks are a great source of energy, visually and economically, to the people who have scrutinizingly picked up their every shaft from the ground and hung them into the breeze to hand-build a structure. Now these stacks stand in contrast to man’s technological civilization: highways, wires and poles, generators and speeding vehicles; and cities that grow closer and closer to the edges of their fields. But the presence of the hay guys is far surpassing all sense of time—the presence is an eternal cry and it is mystical and powerful. From the Indian Nila Tantra comes a description that seems fitting:

Thou art Bindu and full-moon
Whose substance is Hring and Phat
Thou art mantra and shelter of all
Thy forms are threefold---
Gross, Subtle, and Supreme.

Like divinities, the stacks are a sound and form that represent something greater than their corporeal existence. Because they have been formed differently over the years, the hay guys can be embodied in many forms. They reign supreme as symbols of Order, Procreation, Duality, and Unity. The Order of sowing, harvesting, and drying. The result of fertilization and thus Procreation.

The combination of a projecting growing form attached to the fertile Mother Earth, and thus Duality. (As seen here in the female by a circular form of the sun or the moon, the spherical earth or womb; and in the male by the haystack form). And, the Unity of an economic productivity, farming, that binds all men. Thus the stacks are a form that shape realities and as such represent a reality. Standing outside other functional types of men, outside the intellect of the city, they are a generative symbol. The careful and loving industry that creates the fields of hay guys is that of a planned existence. This is the existence created by a family, or tribe, or country, working to feed the source of its energy, so that it can carry on all other industries. The hay guys are powerful in their form because the represent a way of life and the beginning basis of life; transformation of nature. This transformation is seen very provocatively in the hillside or lowlands of Scandinavia…in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. When we see the expansive earth surfaces covered with the lines or individual stacks of hay, or circles or rising mounds, we sense comradeship in their form. Visually, the haystacks are like anthropromorphic figures. The piled sufaces come alive as all humanity. The haystacks present themselves as all knowing—warriors, gods and goddesses, politicians and discoverers—and at the same time can come calling in hidden disguise.

These are the living creatures of experience and the powerful Scandinavian landscape that have motivated me to produce the imagery here. Because I have seen in them a miving effort of existence, I find the haystacks timely symbols. While much of nature is disintegrating, there is one eternal earth toil that continues its life giving form. Hei Guys!