Prairie Stories

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These images were shot mostly south of Burke, South Dakota near or in Jamison, Nebraska (the road shot with the cars and four wheelers) while I was visiting my family last week.  Only the clothesline was shot in town.  There is nothing like clean sheets on the line drying in the sun.  I wandered around this farmstead and wondered what it was like when it was in operation.  It’s a gorgeous setting.  If anyone has any information about this farm please let me know.

I hope you discover some unexpected beauty in your weekend.

 

 

You know how your day can have a theme?

This morning over coffee I asked my husband, Jeff what needed his attention the most today? “slowing down” he said. Then we sang John Prine’s “Sound of the Speed of Loneliness” which has some great lyrics and a theme kept emerging for my day.

You’ve broken the speed of the sound of loneliness
You’re out there running just to be on the run

Later, I went to a dance class at the South End Studio and as we cooled down and stretched, our instructor, Linda said, “surrender to gravity”.  I’m not usually a big fan of gravity, but it felt really great—quiet, surrendering to gravity and stretching my spine.

In this era of BUSY being a badge of honor…I want to act dishonorably, get quiet and slow down.

When I am smart enough slow down and accept some quiet (which isn’t quite often enough):  I work smarter.  I’m more creative and deliberate.  I’m less reactive.  I see my options. I’m more productive. This got me wondering what Confucius, Whitman and others had to say about this quiet. Turns out quite a bit actually.  Of course they did.

Walt Whitman/Give me the Splendid, Silent Sun “GIVE me the splendid silent sun, with all his beams full-dazzling;…Give me nights perfectly quiet, as on high plateaus west of the Mississippi, and I looking up at the stars;…”

“If he who does not know kept silent, discord would cease.” —Socrates

“Never miss a good chance to shut up.”      ―Will Rogers

It isn’t easy to find time for quiet other than sleep in our days. However, it might be necessary when the world is just too loud all the time.  Here’s to quiet.  Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

bridging my adult life & my roots

I’m heading back out to South Dakota next week.  My longing for the prairie now is unprecedented in my adult life.  Artist Elizabeth Bunsen and I have been talking a lot about the nature of how much the landscape of our childhoods affects our adult lives.  This pull is now greatly affecting my need for spaciousness, quiet, connection, being available to aging parents and looking at a few years down the road with children in college and an empty nest.

I’ve layered my photos of South Dakota with some of my paintings. These images serve as a bridge between my 26 year creative life in Vermont and my South Dakota roots.  You can take the girl out of West River, but you can’t take the West River out of the girl.

I would love to hear how the landscape of your childhood has had an affect on your life.  I’m really curious about this concept and hope to be doing some interviews and writing on the topic.

P.S. For you Burke area residents.  I would love to shoot some abandoned farmhouses while I’m home the 20th-22nd.  If you have some locations please email me or let my family know locations.  Thank you.  Maybe I’ll see you around town or in Stella’s.

 

Thank you Eleanor Roosevelt.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the nature of choice.  We live in a society where there sometimes is a tendency to “blame” others for our own behavior. “The devil made me do it.”  We all make mistakes, it’s the choices we make after them that really matter.

choice/noun

noun: choice; plural noun: choices
  1. an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.
I know some people subscribe to a philosophy that our lives are just laid out in front of us with no choices…all fate.  All the time.  That’s fine if that’s working for you.  I just happen to wholeheartedly disagree.  We have free will.  We choose how to respond.  We can choose who we want to be. We can choose whether or not to let someone provoke bad behavior in us. We can choose to learn more. We choose how to utilize new knowledge. Knowledge is power in every circumstance even sometimes when it’s painful.

When I realized that every minute of every day I have a choice, even though it seems so simple, I really felt like I had been liberated.

We have the privilege of getting to make choices (good or bad) and learn from them and get up another day and make another round of choices.  We are choice makers—not constant victims of circumstance.  Fabulous, huh?

Well, not entirely, because when I began to study about the nature of choice it put a bunch of victim crap I’ve carried around back on my own broad shoulders. Wait, I can’t dump that on someone else?  Someone didn’t DO that to me, that was my choice?  I didn’t want to think about it.  Choosing is not an easy process, but that’s the way the universe operates.  I tried to unlearn and block out what I was reading.  I just couldn’t, the genie was out of the bottle and now I’m grateful.

Every moment of every day we have choices to make.

choice eleanor roosevelt lisa lillibridge

When we make choices with personal authority and ownership they can actually help us learn a lot about ourselves.  I don’t know about you, but I will spend my lifetime trying to understand Lisa.  She’s actually a total pain in the ass—however, the more I know about her, the more I know and that’s never a bad thing…even if it’s painful in the short term.

Can you imagine a world without contrast?

I wholeheartedly think true beauty exists in contrast.  Without light we’re unable to appreciate darkness?  Without weight, something delicate would be more difficult appreciate.  Without hunger, how do understand being satisfied?

Without sorrow how do we truly understand joy?

light dark delicate sturdy lillibridge

contrast weight light dark light lillibridge

Without contrast our world would be quite dull.  Imagine really trying to understand (or explain) cold without warmth, smooth without rough, delicious without disgusting or loss without discovery. It really can’t be done.

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
       ―John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Social scientists (Sherif, Taub and Hovland 1958) studied how much we need contrast all the time to make decisions in or lives.  It’s so much a part of our everyday decision making we don’t really have to ever think about it.  Once I read more I became quite aware of how much contrast is used in retail shopping.

Here’s a link that explains Perceptual Contrast Effect further.

http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/perceptual_contrast.htm

con·trast noun

noun: contrast; plural noun: contrasts
ˈkänˌtrast/
  1. the state of being strikingly different from something else, typically something in juxtaposition or close association.
    “the day began cold and blustery, in contrast to almost two weeks of uninterrupted sunshine”

These images were shot in Lexington, Kentucky last week at PBS Artist Open Studio during an ecodyeing workshop with Elizabeth Bunsen.  While I was treating my photos I noticed that there was a lot of magnificent contrast. How could there not be when we’re working with rust, leaves and indigo?

Here’s the link to find out about future workshops.

http://www.pbsartist.com/pbsartistopenstudio/

 

My dreamlike experience in Lexington, Kentucky.

I just spent the better part of the week in Lexington, Kentucky helping Elizabeth Bunsen run an ecodyeing workshop with a remarkable group of women.  Our host most magnificent; Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch, an encaustic artist has created a space for the magic of artist workshops to take place in an 1880s Victorian home being lovingly restored (encaustic castle).

Patricia (Trish) has remarkable vision for workshops and artists in residency programs of all creative stripes.  Sue Stover started a workshop the day I had to head back to Vermont.  My brood needed me or I would’ve loved to have stayed.  I’ll be back one day.

Here’s the link to Sue’s unique work. http://susanstover.com/

Magnificent sheets and comfortable beds were much welcomed after long days of creativity and laughter (and a few tears as well).  In the morning we gathered in the dining room and we were served homemade granola (ginger fetish), yogurt, fresh baked breads, coffee and spirited conversation.  Over breakfast one day we got to hear the low down from a couple who went to a Pearl Jam show the night before, they snuck in late and didn’t even wake any of us sleeping in the rooms next to theirs.

I can’t quite put into words yet what this experience entirely meant to me, so I thought I would layer some images that felt most “dreamlike” from my days in Kentucky.  There will be a lot more photographs to follow.

Here are the links to get on mailing lists and to check out the accommodations if you are ever planning a trip to Lexington (you really should, very cool city).

http://www.pbsartist.com/

https://www.airbnb.com/users/show/14472982 (login or create an airbnb profile to see more images)

encaustic castle pbsartist laughter elizabeth bunsen pbsartistopenstudio

encaustic castle chandelier pbsartist lexington kentucky encaustic castle pbsartistopenstudio elizabeth bunsen lisa lillibridge pbsartist pbsartistopenstudio pbsartist encaustic castle elizabeth bunsen lillibridge