Calafia Ruins, 2002
Stolper Residence, La Jolla, California
For this installation, I minted my first coins, which then inspired an architectural folly at the edge of the landscape designed by Andy Spurlock. Calafia is the fictitious Queen of the fictitious "Island of California" from the novel Sergas de Esplandian of 1510, written by Garcia Ordoñez de Montalvo. It seems that Cortez had read this "worthless romance" and named the peninsula we now know as Baja California after the fictitious island populated by an amazonian race of women led by the brave warrior Queen Calafia.
The obverse of the coin depicts the Queen in profile, modeled after fellow graduate student and theatre major Marsha Stephanie Blake. The reverse of the coin has a small armada of ships, a griffin, which the women of California used in their wars against men, and an actual map of the State of California from the late 17th Century depicting it as an island. There are many famous maps from the 16th Century up to the 18th Century that clearly - yet erroneously - show California as an island. The story even told of the only metal the women had to work with was gold.