Memory…is the diary we all carry with us.
Above is my original painting. It was in a show at a restaurant that used to be downtown Burlington, Smokejacks. The light was low so I designed this series to show up in the soft light. This piece also was also in a show at the Herrick Elevator in South Dakota.
I thought I could stretch the life of this painting by playing with it and layering the moon. The farmhouse and flora in these images are photographs I shot around Burke, South Dakota. I guess as the snow falls in Vermont I’m dreaming of a quiet and spacious rural landscape.
Every year I have such grand intentions of how I’m going to show my love to my family and friends and every year I fall a short of my intentions and beat myself up a bit. I’m no longer going to miss out on the little moments of the season because of things I DIDN’T GET DONE. That’s bullshit.
This year, I’m forgiving, no celebrating myself for all of the great ideas I’ve had and didn’t accomplish. It’s those little moments with our loved ones, people in line at the coffee shop, grocery store or our bartenders for that matter that make the holiday special anyway. I’m going to be jolly and generous like Santa out in the world, that just sounds fun, right?
So now it’s December 19th and I’m putting one package in the mail for a very special little girl who will more thrilled than anyone on my list to receive a package. I will tell the people in my life I love them and not think twice about what I didn’t get done. Tonight, a Christmas lights drive with my family and spaghetti at our favorite family joint.
I know it’s only July 27th and there’s a lot of summer to still be lived & enjoyed. However, this morning I felt like some of my summer 2016 memories are beginning to blur.
blur/verb—to make or become unclear or less distinct (Merriam-Webster)
After I layered these photos and saw my daughter jumping into the clouds and a beach sign on a South Dakota gravel road I realized that I have to accept that this is the nature of our memories. Even if we can’t recall everything with great detail and clarity our memories are always a part of us. They may surface again one day and they may not. I guess, just like everything else in life the path of least resistance is: ACCEPTANCE.
Here’s to a bunch of sweet summer memories…all blurred together.
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.
My family and I are heading to Burke, South Dakota to see my clan this week for our April break. My days will be filled with my family, the Ponca Creek Bull Sale, hopefully a new baby, old friends and some meandering drives on the prairie roads I adore.
My camera is being cleaned so this trip will be all heart and memory. It feels a little weird to me but there’s nothing I can do. I will have my phone however. I may need to borrow a camera at the bull sale and if my niece’s baby does arrive while we are home. I’m really trying to be “in the moment” and not as concerned with getting the shot. It’s a tough habit to break though.
Here are a couple of old photos I layered this morning while my daughter Lucy was packing.
The first image is main street in Burke layered with a prairie sunrise image from my parent’s back porch. Having coffee on the porch with my Mom is always one of my favorite parts of my time at home.
The second image is a country road layered with a sign I saw in the Las Vegas airport years ago. I’m not sure what “burke in the box” is, but I thought it was interesting.
I hope you find yourself “at home” within yourself whatever your life demands of you this week.
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.
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.