One of the other reasons why I felt like I shouldn’t be painting the other day is that I have a deadline coming up for a proposal for an outdoor exhibition. As soon as I got that painting out of my system, I started working again with natural materials in book form to get my brain going in that direction again. Here are a few peeks into what my hands have been busy with.
This weekend I drove out and across the Chesapeake Bay to the Adkins Arboretum to meet with Howard and Mary McCoy, artists and the curators of the upcoming exhibition that I mentioned above. Part of the submission guidelines is that the work needs to be made in response the landscape at Adkins Arboretum. It was such a privilege to walk the trail with them and see and discuss their work as we came upon the various installations that they have created through the years there. I took a few photos, of course. This one made my heart skip a beat when my eyes laid upon it.
They use the materials in the immediate surroundings, collaborating with what nature has offered. Or taking what nature has done and taking it one step further. Owl feathers found at the bottom of this stump, pictured above, were used to point towards a fallen tree, not seen in this photo.
This photo just doesn’t do this installation justice. What I found so wonderful about talking with them along the trail was witnessing the joy and playfulness they have in regards to the work they do, but at the same time what they create and the act of creating is a deep seated spiritual practice. They didn’t say that, but that was the sense I felt. I feel so lucky to have met them and to spend a few hours with them in the woods. I learned quite a bit and I am 99% sure I picked my installation sites. I just need to get some paper and pencil and brainstorm a bit more. I have a general idea, but it always changes when my hands get involved in the actual making.
“Wildness we might consider as the root of the authentic spontaneities of any being. It is that wellspring of creativity whence comes the instinctive activities that enable all living beings to obtain their food, to find shelter, to bring forth their young: to sing and dance and fly through the air and swim through the depths of the sea. This is the same inner tendency that evokes the insight of the poet, the skill of the artist and the power of the shaman.” -Thomas Berry