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Roy and Mara Superior     Aqua Vitae

Aqua Vitae
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of the James Renwick Alliance
1990, polychromed wood, gold, bone, and porcelain, 77 x 27 3/4 x 14 1/8 in.
© 1990 Roy and Mara Superior

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A collaborative effort between the wife and husband team of Roy and Mara Superior, this sculpture features a porcelain shell-like object that sits on a shelf in what appears to be a high chest, although the sculpture is not in any way a piece of furniture. The decorative elements of Aqua Vitae refer directly to marine life, as the title translates. Here we see three "swimming" and one painted fish, seaweed, and wavelike forms, all bringing to mind the rich and endless life of the earth's waters. Fishing and water are metaphors for the eternal search that human beings experience in an effort to understand the meaning of life.