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  • Landon Clay

Compartmentalized #2, Nautilus

This fossil is likely over one hundred and twenty million years old. To compare that geologic time to a standard twenty-four-hour day, a human lifetime of eighty years is just five hundredths a second. This fossil has been buried below the seabed, calcified, through millions of years tectonic movement, elevated above the ocean. Now it rests on a shelf in my studio.


I appreciated the opportunity to paint this fossil. It afforded me the opportunity to reflect on the compartmentalization of lifetimes.


Ancestors of today's nautilus buried in mud and calcified into stone under leagues of the ocean on some distant seabed. The fossil was evidence of living organisms. Their hard shells had survived the organism’s existence, metamorphosed, and been placed on my shelf for me to observe and perceive. Despite the finite nature of life, our existence has echoes that reverberate beyond our lifetimes. In one sense, this fossil had been given a second existence in this painting. I wonder where it will be a hundred and twenty years from now, let alone, one hundred and twenty million.




After I am gone, they will continue to exist and perhaps inspire others to reflect on life.