I had the pleasure of spending time with my great-nephew, Liam a few weeks ago. My daughter (Willa), our Vermont friend (Jen Wool) and I were hanging out with him. He wanted us to find (and keep finding) cowboy videos on our phones and stories of cowboys in South Dakota Magazine. He couldn’t get enough.
Every time a story or video was over, Liam would say, “ummmmm…more cowboy stuff”. This became our catch phrase for the week.
Correct if I’m wrong Liam, however, I’m pretty sure you’re telling us to always seek out more of whatever sparks our interest. Ummmmm—for me, it actually is more cowboy stuff. Certainly in my artwork and photography anyway. Thanks buddy. You’ll surely be missed.
a thousand words? Or do the stories we hold onto shape the narrative a lot more? My Mom always told me that as a newborn I possessed a striking resemblance to Winston Churchill. I can’t tell from the photo and I don’t actually really care. I find it funny. However, I’ve always held it to be the absolute gospel truth.
What other stories of greater consequence have I never questioned that I was told as a child?
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.
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.
I remember this day well. My twin daughters were three. We’d been at the beach for the afternoon, they were hot, sandy, cranky and tired. I was pretty sure putting them in a tub of water and giving them popsicles would buy me a few minutes to sit on the porch and collect my thoughts…or do I have it all wrong? I must have it all wrong because of the look in their eyes.
What am I not remembering?
I love the picture, but I only remember this moment through the image. It isn’t as hardwired as it would’ve been by simply being there with my girls.
I’m proud of my photos. They certainly fill a creative craving for me…but I think I might need to be more judicious about when I pull out my camera or iphone.
Sometimes I want the buffer the camera allows me and sometimes I don’t want the burden of being the photographer.
The more I learn about neural pathways, they more I want to let experiences get hardwired into my brain and not always captured in pixels. I might be more willing to explore this because my camera is now being repaired. At first I felt like I was missing a limb when I dropped it off last week. However, after being away for the weekend with my family it allowed me more time to be “in the moment”.
This morning my husband and I walked the beach and in the distance I noticed that there were seals on the rocks. My phone had died and I didn’t have my camera. We walked closer and got a better look. We watched them slide on and off the rocks and Jeff made “seal sounds”. We joked about how cool it would be if his calls were actually summoning them. I’ve always wanted to touch a seal. (I was told they feel very “oily”.) This is now a memory to call upon. I created the neural pathway of this moment on March 27th, 2016 of walking the beach with my husband in the sun and seeing a bunch of seals.
I found the story below on the RADIOLAB site about photographs and memories.
RADIOLAB (link & excerpt from article)
“A recent study out of Fairfield University suggests that taking digital photographs actually diminishes our memory. That’s right, makes it worse. What we have here is forgetfulness being enforced on two accounts.
First, and probably no surprise, the action of taking a photo distracts us from physically instilling the moment into the hardwiring of our brain. In the time normally spent capturing the moment in our neurons, we’re thinking, “I want to take a picture of this.” Whipping out our camera, setting up the shot, we become more focused on the act of capturing a copy of the moment with our camera rather than the event itself in our brain. The moment is recorded in pixels, but it’s not imprinted in our brain’s neuronal wiring.
Secondly, our future recollection of the moment (now haphazardly hard-wired in our brain) is lessened because of the medium we’re using — digital pixels as opposed to physical prints.”
This makes a lot of sense, but it will be a tough habit for me to break.
I’m actually glad now that I don’t just have a grainy picture of the seals in my camera.
The Hipp Theater in Gregory, South Dakota holds a lot of memories for me. We had to have our parents write notes saying that it was OK for us to see R-rated movies before we were seventeen. The World According to Garp, Quest for Fire, Scarface…these were a few that required permission. Oh, the joys of growing up in a small town when a note would suffice (whoever wrote it). My kids haven’t had it so easy trying to get into R-rated movies in Burlington, Vermont…I like hearing the stories of their efforts though. I hope you enjoy these shots.
Here’s to the power of our memories,