Throughout my practice as an artist there is a thread that winds and flows through my work. This line connects the experiences, stories, materials, and places that inform and inspire the work to the elements within each piece as well. Water, koi, birds, vessels, and nets are present and intertwined as I examine what we find, hold on to, and let go of and how this shapes who we are.
Recently, I returned from a long weekend in Florida visiting my parents. It was sunny every day, and a brief reprieve from the frigid temps we have been having here in the north east. I had a great time with my parents and visiting family down there. We celebrated Dad’s 82nd birthday, and I returned feeling well rested, well fed, and inspired.
While there, Dad took me to Wakodahatchee Wetlands, a park created on 50 acres unused utility land which was transformed into a recreation wetlands open to the public. There is a three-quarter mile boardwalk that crosses between open water pond areas, emergent marsh areas, shallow shelves, and islands with shrubs and snags to foster nesting and roosting. The name Wakodahatchee is derived from the Seminole Indians of Florida and means “created waters.”
We saw large bare trees filled with nests and baby birds eating and heard a cacophony of other worldly sounds. It was a symphony for the senses.
Also over the weekend, I read Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. The book introduced me to the welfare program created by the Children’s Aid Society that transported orphaned or abandoned children from the streets of NYC to the Midwest in the 1850’s.
In the book two women; a 17 year old teen and an elderly widow living alone on the coast of Maine discover they have more in common than first appears. Molly, the teen is a Native American of the Penobscot tribe living unhappily in foster care. Vivian lives alone in a big house on the water along the coast of Maine. Molly comes to work for Vivian as her community service, unbeknownst to Vivian, for stealing a library book. (Jane Eyre, her favorite, which by coincidence, I had just finished listening to the audio book last month.) Molly’s job is to help Vivian clear out all the boxes in her attic that have been up there gathering dust, and holding memories for years beginning with her voyage from Ireland to New York as a young girl.
In the context of the story, we are introduced to the word portaging which is the practice of carrying water craft or cargo over land as in canoes with the Penobscots, either around an obstacle in a river, or between two bodies of water. Molly, Vivian and the readers are invited to consider what is truly of value for us as we journey through this life and the obstacles we all face.
Family visit, nests of birds over water and a book about the Orphan Train….When we take the time to be present and notice there is a synchronicity that connects us all.