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.
Somehow folks, photographs of Herrick, South Dakota struck at the heart of many people…actually WAY more people than had ever read my blog before. So, at first it fed my ego. I was obsessively checking the number of viewers I had for those Herrick photographs. (Obsessively is almost too small of a word for my behavior.) I kept thinking about the comments of people who grew up in Herrick and moved away. A former babysitter of mine wrote and people were connecting about their love of Herrick and rural South Dakota. That was a blast for me. Thank you.
This morning in my NIA dance class we did a move that protected our hearts and then we gave them out to the world. Arms closed and wrapped in protection across our hearts then opened wide. It made me think about EGO vs. HEART—protecting the way the world sees me vs. vulnerability & social risk. I was thinking about the volume of traffic I had to my site and then it all went straight to my heart. Arms wide and then crossed. Try it, it’s kind of a cool way to get a sense of vulnerability and protection in your body. I’m not surprised that my pictures of Herrick, South Dakota sparked so much interest and dialogue.
I think the geography of our upbringing is in our bones.
“…voluntary settlement to a frontier area tends to produce individualism.” Geographical Psychology; Exploring the Interaction of Environment and Behavior edited by Peter J. Renfrow. Cool, huh? I often think about the freedom and spaciousness I was allowed growing up on the prairie. It was awesome AND I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of Burke. To quote Joni Mitchell, “I got the urge for going”.
My settlement in Burke was involuntary at my birth, however, it did produce a sense of individualism in me. I suspect in many others too (judging by your response to my photos, shut up ego, let the heart take over). In the book I referenced it suggests that people in frontier areas are naturally more suspicious of outsiders because of the potential to spread disease. Fascinating lizard brain stuff, huh?
For many reasons “pioneer & frontier thinking” has been bouncing around in my head a lot lately. Last week a relative sent me this article about my Great Grandfather, Lowell Stanton Lillibridge, pioneer banker. These few paragraphs tell a great story about pioneer life in South Dakota at the turn of the century.
I’m grateful I have a different lens to view the landscape that informed who I am. I’m not wild about some other middle aged issues, but I do appreciate the wisdom.
I haven’t lived in South Dakota since 1989. I moved to Vermont on New Year’s Day 1990, and yet an image of a South Dakota two-lane highway is my constant muse. Funny how different things look with a quite few more years in the rear view mirror.
I encourage you to think about what specifically speaks to you about the geography you experienced growing up. What’s your “South Dakota two-lane”? That image got me through some rough dental work last week. You might want to consider a landscape as a sort of meditation…a “go to” place when you need to settle your brain down.
Thank you for reading. I’m truly grateful for your time.
The week before Thanksgiving I was in South Dakota visiting my family. I had an afternoon to drive around and shoot some photos. I headed to Herrick, just east of Burke, listening to korn country 92.1. I love Keith Urban’s song; Blue Ain’t Your Color. If you don’t know this song, it’s a damn shame. Here’s the video.
I spent a lot of time in Herrick growing up. I “worked bees” two summers. That was highly educational, messy and sometimes painful work. I got stung 17 times one day (my forearms looked like Popeye’s). I played softball in the field behind the truck. I think I might’ve even knocked back a few beers at parties in the outfield on occasion. I had a friend who lived on a farm in Herrick and since I was a “city kid” riding the bus to Anita’s farm was a grand adventure. We could drive at fourteen. We didn’t have to ride the bus too long. So, I had a blast driving around Herrick in beautiful, autumn, late afternoon light and thinking about my Herrick Days.
Next time, perhaps a whole series of photos devoted to Bernie’s Inn, the historic watering hole in Herrick. Would that be a possibility? Let me know.
Elizabeth Bunsen and I are both prairie girls. Elizabeth from rural Nebraska and me, as you might know, South Dakota. We wanted to design a collection that reflects our shared sense of interior geography. Our efforts will walk down the runway during Burlington, Vermont’s annual fashion show—STRUT. The show is a part of a three day art celebration in Burlington, Vermont…SOUTH END ART HOP.
Elizabeth creates amazing rust prints on paper. I’m a graphic designer. I wanted to design some of our textiles for the show. I ordered these from SPOONFLOWER. I think they came out beautifully. The fabric wasn’t too expensive and they were pretty quick on the turn around. I can’t wait to work with these prints.
RUST PRINTS + ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR = PERSONALIZED TEXTILES
Elizabeth is getting ready for the Art Hop in her studio now as well. It’s sort of a kooky, busy, creative time in Burlington, Vermont’s South End. We will be using some of these pieces that she has ecodyed with eucalyptus and indigo.
I will be making handbags for the show out of leather scrap. I love the way Elizabeth’s fabric floats next to the leathers. I’ll keep posting more of our work as it’s available. This is by far my favorite creative time of the year and working with Elizabeth’s creations is bringing some additional energy that’s really welcomed.
I’ll be doing a real blitz of long days in my very hot studio starting August 27th. If you stop by to visit—an icy, unsweetened iced tea from Cumberland Farms is always welcomed.
The South End Art Hop’s STRUT is on September 10th
Here’s the link for tickets. Both shows usually sell out early.
I have such a strong connection to images of the road. They truly inspire me. These photos represent a journey, freedom, possibilities and being out of routine. Those are all such good things in my estimation. I’m trying to organize my photos in a way that creates a few “chapters” of my recent trip to Ireland. What an astoundingly beautiful country and such remarkably warm and wonderful people. If you’ve never been, start dreaming about some travel.
I hope you enjoy Ireland 2016—part one.