Listen, listen. “Sometimes it’s so hard to listen in the city” What was I listening for? My last week in the woods I spent listening. Listening with my heart, listening with my eyes and finally with my ears. I didn’t question as much why I was doing something but let the pull of creation, place and material drive me. I was learning to trust, let go and sit with a more confident and calm mind.
The first weekend met me head on with challenges. Primarily my work has always been 2-D so my ideas as a sculptor appear grandiose in my head yet never necessarily follow through in action, once materials, environment and technical skills are taken into account. I realize my visions are still very based in my 2-D experience so I think primarily in line rather than form. Essentially trying to ‘draw’ with the materials I choose. My first sculpture of the week was using pine boughs… I have never got so mad at an inanimate object, it was truly humbling. Navigating the process became unwieldy, they didn’t want to hang, stay connected or form in the way I wanted, I was held hostage to the limitations of the material. More than once I just wanted to tear down all my work, I felt like the student in my classes who eventually gets so frustrated when he can’t translate his ideas from his head to paper that it ends in crumpled, ripped, angry satisfaction. When I finally, finally positioned the boughs just right and no twig fastenings were slipping out of place – I then realized the light was horrible to capture a photograph… oh the defeat!
Luckily this didn’t set the tone for the whole week and my dedication to squeeze in every moment for art-making found me drawing at wee hours of the morning among fluttering moths; hiding under large branches while manipulating materials during rainstorms; re-visiting old sculptures and camping through a wet night at the Wild River; lugging my drawing board,and pencils with me out to every site near and far to catch the ‘perfect’ shadow; and not seeking out Internet service, even once!
The Wild River continues to capture my intrigue and appreciation. I had the luck of being the ONLY person camping their this week… that besides my new toothless friend, Maurice, the very self-important camp host. I arrived at the campground with a site in mind and upon entering saw three pine bough rings hanging from a large stump in the middle, it was a piece of my Regeneration sculpture. This immediately struck me with a sense of belonging and contentment. I was so thrilled someone had taken my work and placed it in another location with some nature collages of their own. This unexpected movement and change is what I hope for when I walk away from my pieces, that they continue to shift in ways that I cannot expect through natural or human influence. As I walked around the campground I noticed small nature assemblages gracing trunks and rocks…I was absolutely in my element and so inwardly happy. As I re-visited the sculptures I created in the weeks prior and experimented with color and line, the river kept me company like constant comrade and observed me playing with a new material… burnt wood from my campfire … likened to charcoal. If I had more time I would have composed all the cream-colored rocks into black and white masterpieces.
Finally John Anderson & I exhibited our work at the Patricia Carega gallery, a beautiful barn gallery in Sandwich. John showcased his time-lapse work and photographs, while I my time-lapse drawings and environmental sculpture. It was rewarding and brought the residency full circle. An impressive crowd turned out and once again I felt the gratefulness of being accepted to really delve into my passion and have the opportunity to really feel like an artist. Thank you to the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire, White Mountain National Forest service, Meade Base and all the new friends (& woodland creatures) I met along the way. What I like the best is that I am welcomed back with open arms…”Once an artist in residence, always an artist in residence.”
At the close of this half of my journal is filled with rantings, questions, discoveries in art and appreciation for the natural world… here are some more quotes to leave you with:
Coming back from the city and feeling over-stimulated, thinking about how to re-enter the space and creative spirit , “ I wonder if that is what is ‘drawing’ me to do the time-lapse drawings. To capture moments of stillness in the constant movement? To showcase the moments of change within the limitations of our environment… how even when we are still, we are moving. Is this what a lot of artists try to do? Capture a beautiful moment in time – the light, a landscape, a sound, a color? It bridges to our hearts, it bridges to our senses. It embodies life itself”
“I did another hanging piece. For all I know it could be 6 o’clock and I’ve been here since 10am. The sky is finally blue, my feet are completely pruned, dirt embedded beneath my fingernails. Weaving tear drops together to accompany a small waterfall on its journey to greater Falls.”
After leading a program with adults that combined hiking with environmental art on the Greeley Ponds trail, “The hike directly informed the art and thinking of things such as balance, we had to use our own balance many a time – color, various shades of green, leaves turning in a range of colors – brilliant crisscrossing roots that made what seemed like a random interstate of connections, yet resembled basket weaving… it made me think of randomness and how even though the roots appear totally random they have a very controlled and intentional purpose, found a place and its support system. It is so difficult to actually be successfully ‘random’ and ‘spontaneous’ in art.”
“Trusting in the process, such a life lesson. Creating, making, sculpting and drawing, we all jump in not knowing, a little fearful but with trust that something will work out. That something might be complete failure, that something might be accidental discovery of a new technique or idea, that something may be surprising success! The underlying value is trust, because we are essentially trusting ourselves and trusting the universe to provide whatever answers/questions/thoughts may be presented in the moment. Life in itself is a journey – it’s a process and if we question it or live in fear of making next steps all the time we will find ourselves doubting our purpose…. Some will gently brush on the paint with a fine sable brush, while others will throw, splatter and mix it with sand to see the unexpected effects. There is a level of risk one takes in pushing the boundaries- most of the time there is failure… but when there is success the fruit is sweeter and worthwhile.”
“Creating art in nature is goddamn frustrating – I didn’t realize how much until this residency. Working within the limitations of what nature has provided – trying to sculpt with finicky, stubborn, breakable, prickly, unsymmetrical, slippery and unpredictable materials in an environment where you are reliant on the sun, rain, clouds, wind or calm is tough… mastery of patience!”
“looking at the past are we able to see what the future holds in these landforms. Crouching, bending, peering over the river balanced precariously on the rock, rubbing, scraping the wood against stone – leaving a mark – fingertips gray – now burnt wood has seeped into my grooves, my crevices, and won’t wash out the lines of my existence. What can these say about me, my past & future?”