Endangered Alphabets Obelisk
11' x 12" x 12"
Ash Wood & Steel
Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, VT May-November 2021
The Obelisk sculpture incorporates characters, symbols, and scripts drawn from living, yet endangered, languages and their writing systems spanning the four corners of the world. Due to shifting tides in politics, migration, armed conflict and developmental pressures, many of these unique writing systems and languages are on the verge of disappearing.
While all writings on the obelisk are still in use today, some of these alphabets can now only be written by as few as five or so writers. Centuries of accumulated knowledge and tradition are being lost within as little as two generations to the very cultures that created them.
These alphabets are wrapped around the wood of an Ash tree—a tree central to the native Vermont Abenaki story of creation. The Ash tree itself is now endangered due to the Emerald Ash Borer beetle. The Obelisk stands about 10' tall.