Alma Mater II – The Grateful Dead
At the University of Illinois, students are greeted by a famous statue, well known by students and alumni, Alma Mater. The statue is one of a welcoming mother like figure, with arms outstretched in greeting. Behind her stand two figures representing ‘Learning’ and ‘Labor’. The statue is very much a part of Illini tradition. On the statue is what I have always found to be a bit of a creepy message. It reads ‘To thy happy children of the future, those of the past send greetings’. It’s a little like a voice from the grave. I like to think of it as the original ‘Grateful Dead’. On a fishing trip to Alaska I came across the spawned out remains of a salmon, mouth open, facing upstream. I couldn’t help but think of Illinois’ Alma Mater and her greetings to future generations. Alma Mater II-Grateful Dead was born. A salmon of the past, sending greetings to the salmon spawn of the future. Pretty strange huh? I thought so to, but the print really turned out well! Each print is hand labeled, within the bottom boundary of the photograph, with the inscription ‘To thy happy salmon of the future, those of the past send greetings’. It honors my alma mater, as well as the circle of life…and maybe breakfast bourbon. The latter being a salmon fishing tradition, and likely some motivation for the photograph.