Some of my work from my second 4-week residency in Iceland this January/February, is up now at LxWxH Gallery in Seattle, an installation of wallpaper repeated patterns and large prints on archival rag paper. Glimpses pulled from days at Lake Myvatn, Kvera geothermal field, Skaftafellsjokull glacier and Jokullsarlon lagoon, turned into a vibrating layered wall of pattern.
“Working with a hermetic and intuitive process in the extreme environment of the sub-arctic north of Iceland in January, I began to pull patterns and life forms and colors out of the essential temperament of the land. Using snow, ice, lava rock, dead vegetation, lichen and fiber, I held a frozen camera with a frozen body. A barren snow-entombed solid white lava field begins to glow royal blue as human eyes search for color, for difference. The myriad layers of turquoise spikes of ancient glacial ice are very much alive as a gobbling monster, gobbled in turn by human greed as heat. Hot flamingo wings in the snow on the craters of a hot steaming lake become the energy of the magma just barely below the surface, forming everything. I found myself a woman wrapped in worm skin, seal skin, sheep skin, not battling the cold and ice and sulfur steam, but lured in by the illusion of desolation and silence, and finding endless undulating repeating patterns of energy, appetite and expansion.”
I was surprised by what emerged and where it came from. The long view was always so alluringly desolate, but just below my hands or my lens I found so much brightness.
Iceland seems like a dream to me now, one I get to walk about in, sometimes when I have a span of time to open up my little silver hard-drive filled with images and film clips. I get to coax out some memories and day dreams of how my body felt in that place, a daily routine that involved exploring unfamiliar rugged landscapes and long stretches of being alone with my family. It was not paradise or an idealized haze, but sometimes hard and cruel work, trying to find a vision of myself as a maker inside and pushing against those simple structures, as something that mattered ….especially in the blankness of the whiteness of the blanket of sub-arctic snow.
Because I went to Iceland a second time with no plan, but a suitcase full of old and new, and unfinished plans– and rather a notion of what Negative Capability might be like, to let the land and weather and rock pull me to think on my feet, me like a little metal shard on a magnet — I spent much too much time in anxious fear that I was wasting my time, and my money.
Nothing was complete, nothing was revealed to me. But…it was only once I dug in and played and prodded, and forgot to be productive, could I see that at some point I would find something that would sparkle. I would see the steaming white lake of craters with swans and feel open to whatever happened.
Then to come home and have the distance and a rollercoaster of life events, then have the season turn from cold to spring, to summer, and to dive back in private into the white nothingness of the places I went in Iceland, could I see the patterns I’d captured or tried to tame. Like making up and twisting memory, as we all do, I coax something out that is more than what I experienced, but the more like the florid desire to return.
I hope you can see the show! The firestorm gallery owner Sharon Arnold hosts the gallery on Saturdays and by appointment.
I’ll be there as well this Saturday, hosting a light brunch and teaching crocheting from 10am – 1pm, then the gallery remains open until 3pm. Read more about it here.