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Ancient Rock Artists of the Midwest Left Messages in Stone

Apr. 18, 2017
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Ancient rock art was created by native people who carved, drew or painted onto natural rock surfaces, and the artistic images that remain today serve as powerful spiritual and cultural references from a bygone era. These symbolic markings, known as either petroglyphs (images carved or engraved into rocks) or pictographs (images made with paint or other pigment), are one of the oldest material forms of expression by our early human ancestors, and many of their ancient drawings remain on cliffs, rock shelters and cave walls across the Midwest.

A new book focused on Native American rock art pairs a watercolor artist and an archeologist to reveal the ancient stories behind some of the most iconic prehistoric paintings. In Hidden Thunder: Rock Art of the Upper Midwest, artist Geri Schrab and archeologist Robert “Ernie” Boszhardt collaborate to research and interpret the stories of Indian art located mostly in southwestern and west central Wisconsin. By combining Boszhardt’s 40-plus years of experience as an archeologist with Schrab’s ethereal renderings of the original images, Hidden Thunder lends new understanding to the cultural context of these fragile natural resources.

Boszhardt works for the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center at UW-La Crosse and serves as an honorary fellow at UW-Madison. Schrab has two decades of experience visiting and painting rock art with an emphasis on the Midwest and Lake Superior region. The two co-authors will appear at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 20, at Books & Company, 1039 Summit Ave., Oconomowoc.

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