Today I wanted to share an excerpt from a book I have coming out at the end of August, "Natural Art and Explorations". This book has been a joy to write because in it I get to relive and put into words all the wonderful collections, projects, and adventures that have come out of the last three years as a Mom to two amazing children. It is written through the eyes of a Parent who also has the heart of an Artist, and it shows how the two worlds can and have intertwined. The contents present the simple beauty found when the natural world is paired down, deconstructed, or picked apart in the hopes that it will help spark the imagination and fuel the creative spirit in both children and adults alike. The section titled, "Little Roadmaps" is dear to my heart so I thought I would highlight it here as a nice break from my professional practice posts. Enjoy!
There was a time in my life, before children, when I could pick up and go on a moment’s notice and shortly after finishing grad school I did just that. Filled with fear and excitement, I drove across the country and moved away from my home state of Ohio for the first time. As an Artist I knew that unfamiliar surroundings would allow my creative spirit room to grow. I traced my fingers across the map and chose Arizona as my destination, spending two years in that hauntingly beautiful landscape - a place so wildly different from what I knew.
In what seemed like the blink of an eye, almost two years passed and that adventure came to an end, with a new chapter beginning when I got a job offer I couldn’t pass up. Before I knew it I was driving back across the country, landing right back where I started, to begin my ten year journey as a Digital Art Professor. I wasn't quite ready but I knew I had to go. During my long drive home, I pulled the car off to the side of the road several times to collect bits and pieces of the land that I had come to love and yet had to leave behind. I filled my tiny jars with fragments of plants and earth in order to take something tangible with me.
Collections can act as markers for time and place but are also physical evidence recording existence. Now I keep these bottles in my studio and they inspire me, acting as little roadmaps, invoking memories and emotions from a place that had become a part of me. They remind me of where I've been and how far I've come. Telling stories to my children one day, I will be able to hand them each a tiny bottle so they can examine a part of my experience for themselves. I love that in these fragile vessels the ethereal and corporeal come together as one.
The moments that we live out can be embedded within the things that we collect. Objects can tell stories of people, places, and seemingly mundane (but secretly magical) times. There are some objects that I cherish purely because of the stories and memories they hold within - my own, of those I loved, and of people I will never meet. By creating collections of natural objects my children are able to (verbally or with my assistance) trace memories and recount stories of their own. Now just as I had once done, I help them find glass jars, boxes, and other containers to display their collections within our home. Photographs are usually the go-to when it comes to preserving important life events but natural collections and displays are a wonderful alternative to giving daily adventures and little elusive moments a chance to live on.
As an Artist I am constantly looking to the natural world as a source of inspiration. For me the outer world is a touchstone to the inner world - and the truths we have yet to perceive. As my children grow I strive to teach them the importance of grounding themselves within nature as well - hoping that in doing this it will help them not only respect and admire the world we live in but also find their place in it.
Look on Amazon or www.spiritinthemachine.com (this site) on August 24th to purchase a copy of "Natural Art and Explorations".