Winter Solstenen Project work up at LxWxH Gallery in Seattle, thru June 2013

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.

PRESSice star monsterTrying to pin down what I had made with words, I wrote:

“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.

Kvera-blog

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.

myvatn_swan_blog

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.
come see The Obsessive Unknown Origins of Grotesque Irregular... on Twitpic

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. 

Guest Artist Anne Blackburn speaks and carves tomorrow, 6-9pm

August 27th, Saturday: Guest Artist Event, 6 – 9pm;  Artist and Lo-Fi Arts Festival curator Anne Blackburn Artist Talk and hands-on demo of book-carving for her environmental installations.  Photos and films from her two-year installation of human-made shelf fungus.

Earlier this summer, just a week before I started Solstenen project, I had a small exciting adventure at Smoke Farm with Anne Blackburn.   Smoke Farm has popped up its amazing acreage into my work before;  I’ve walked all over the place, made a film, done photoshoots…but it continues to yield hidden places and surprises.  Anne took me to one; her two year Shelf Fungus Project.  I’d heard about it…seen some pictures floating around, and had missed it at the last Lo-Fi.

Teeth Marks....

Teeth Marks....

I always imagine  Anne so immersed in her work — which also includes curating and organizing and gathering people together — that she doesn’t really do the full onslaught of ‘marketing’ that seems the norm for our age.  And I’m glad…not really knowing all I wanted to know from the computer put me in the position to get Anne to take me on a hike to see her woman-made Shelf Fungus.

After a hike down a path I was familiar with, we took a sharp turn towards the mountain and under some evergreen boughs that opened up into a cathedral-like clearing where you can’t see the sky.  The most striking element were the many very tall old-growth stumps, with the notches carved a century ago by lumbermen, tool marks still very much visible.  Each stump now has a 50 year old ‘new’ tree sprouting out the top, creating this dense canopy, but also very much showing the process that Smoke Farm itself is undergoing; renewal in the form of decay.  Once harnessed and used for human industry, the land, the trees, the water – through human care and the unceasing urge of nature to renew – are changing back (or changing forward) to a wild place….or a place that references the wild place it once was and can never truly be again.  It was easy for me to see a time-lapse in my mind of the clearing of the land, the farm being built, the cows, the effort, the lives made and past.

I could see the trees head to the saw mill and go through a myriad of processes to become any number things to meet  human needs, including books.  Then in this little village of massive stumps, we see Anne’s human-made Shelf Fungus….made of books.  Again, I can see another time-lapse of paper being made, books being bound, and used for half a century — law books about property rights, no less — then discarded when the weight of digesting information in that form became too cumbersome.  They became trash.

Until Anne Blackburn takes them up, carves them like one would if they were wood (because they are…..) and makes them back into the image of something they once were, a flourishing opportunistic organism, an ecosystem.   The tools marks remain, just as they do on the stumps in that old and new forest.  Then she sets them back into the forest, to decay and renew at the same time; in private, the only audience the life that goes on around them, and sometimes with human visitors.  Anne, an enthusiastic scholar of land art, science and the gathering of human effort, asks ‘when is the work done’ ?

On hearing that the Fungus project was nearing an end (if there is one….), and that there were miles of unedited footage of days and nights passing before a little wildlife camera trained on the Fungus installed, and the incredible overlapping of cycles of destruction leading to creation, leading to destruction leading to creation…some by human industry and need and some by the ever-pervasive natural cycle, I really wanted to learn all I could about this work where the edges seem to bleed over, and share it with everyone through my time at The Project Room.

Please join Anne and me, as we look over images, and artifacts, actual pieces removed from the forest (as books always are anyway…) and explore ideas about when anything made ever really ends. Have some treats and join us for conversation I’ll turn into a Solstenen Artist Profile.  We’ll add one more layer to how ‘work’ evolves and lives on….when it inspires.

See even more images in the slideshow below…

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