Totemic Animal by Ina Mar

Original photo by Anthea Slade:

Translation of Anthea Slade ’s photo Beautiful Woman Beautiful Bird for the purpose of SoJie 12 (Solo’s 12th Juried Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts)

August 2011 Juried Invitational Exhibition

Dimensions: 31×41cm (12 1/8″ × 16 1/8")
Technique: ink, water, acrylic and some eagle feathers on cold-pressed paper, applied with nibs, brushes and fingers

In Native North American tribal religions, it is believed that an animal’s spirit can be trapped inside a person’s soul and that the person possesses some of the abilities or characteristics of this animal – that is the totemic animal or animal spirit guide, that will accompany the person throughout life, acting as their guide through life, both in the physical and spiritual world.

The interpretation of this photo is influenced by a book by Isabel Allende. The girl is a depiction of Nadia-Águila, a character of “Kingdom of the Golden Dragon” (El Reino del Dragón de Oro), part two of Allende’s trilogy. I will not recite the whole summary of the book, just what concerns this picture. Nadia is a young girl living in Brasil, having special abilities. She can make herself invisible and communicate with animals. She also has the ability to physically become her Totemic animal, the Eagle. Nadia (Águila) is kidnapped. While fleeing from captivity, she gets badly hurt and finds herself surrendered to death, trapped inside a canyon. In her effort to stay alive, she summons her totemic animal, the eagle, to her aid. Using her mental strength, she transforms herself into an eagle and flies out of the canyon.

I painted the moment of the transformation. The totemic animal comes to Nadia’s help and Nadia starts transforming into an eagle using her mental strength, in order to overcome the difficulties as well as her own despair.

En los primeros minutos no sintió nada, su cuerpo estaba insensible, pero pronto el dolor fue
tan intenso, que creyó que iba a desmayarse. Al moverse el dolor era mucho peor. Hizo un esfuerzo mental por permanecer alerta y evaluar su situación: no podía permitirse el lujo de perder la cabeza, decidió. En cuanto pudo calmarse un poco, elevó los ojos y se vio rodeada de rocas cortadas a pique, pero arriba estaba la paz infinita de un cielo azul tan límpido, que parecía pintado. Llamó en su ayuda a su animal totémico, y mediante un gran esfuerzo psíquico logró transformarse en la poderosa águila y volar fuera del cañón donde estaba atrapada y por encima de las montañas. El aire sostenía sus grandes alas y ella se desplazaba en silencio por las alturas, observando desde arriba el paisaje de
cumbres nevadas y, mucho más abajo, el verde intenso de aquel hermoso país.En las horas siguientes Nadia evocó al águila cuando se sentía vencida por la desesperación. Y cada vez el gran pájaro trajo alivio a su espíritu.

Many thanks to Anthea Slade for permitting me to “translate” her photo into a drawing, and to F.A. Moore for curating the workshop and exhibition SoJie 12.

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  • Cindy Schnackel
    Cindy Schnackelover 3 years ago

    Nice translation, I was waiting for yours and so glad to see it today!

  • thank you so much, Cindy!

    – Ina Mar

  • Anthea  Slade
    Anthea Sladeover 3 years ago

    A beautiful and powerful artwork Ina. The woman’s eye is amazing and most certainly demonstrates the interconnectedness and her taking on eagle-like qualities. I have just left a comment in Sojie 12 Workshop. You also captured the majestic strength and presense. A unique and beautiful interpretation Ina.

  • thank you for this wonderful collaboration, Anthea! I am glad you like my interpretation!

    – Ina Mar

  • Marianna Tankelevich
    Marianna Tanke...over 3 years ago

    wonderful Ina

  • Dianne  Ilka
    Dianne Ilkaover 3 years ago

    Fantastic work!

  • thank you for your kind words, Dianne :)

    – Ina Mar

  • maria paterson
    maria patersonover 3 years ago

    beautiful interpretation and story to go with it Ina..

  • thank you so much Maria :)

    – Ina Mar

  • donnamalone
    donnamaloneover 3 years ago

    So well your work Ina!

  • vampvamp
    vampvampover 3 years ago


  • Michele Meister
    Michele Meisterover 3 years ago

    great work Ina !!!

  • Thank you Michele! It is a pity you did not participate in this workshop. There was this photo (the very first one, by Luke Griffin, man in profile) that reminded me so much of your work when I saw it. At the end, I think nobody has “translated” this one into art :(

    – Ina Mar

  • hm… I might try my chances with that image…

    – Ina Mar

  • Elizabeth Kendall
    Elizabeth Kendallover 3 years ago

    Great art, well done Ina!

  • Thank you very much, Elizabeth :)

    – Ina Mar

  • annamora
    annamoraover 3 years ago

    yes .. you made such a meaningful image out of this beautiful photo … so well done all and everyone together ….

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