Last week I was in South Dakota for a funeral and a wedding. In between those emotional events I found some time to drive back roads with my husband, see the stunning late August countryside and find some much needed quiet. I’m always reminded of how much the prairie landscape resides in my cells, bones and heart.
This landscape gives me clarity, helps me understand my choices and guides me back to my personal True North when I get off course a bit.
South Dakota is my interior geography, no matter where I am in the world.
Recently, I had to draw a compass at Courage Camp in Bristol, Rhode Island. I laughed at myself because the way I still figure out directions is to imagine I’m standing on the front porch of my childhood home. It’s there that I’m most confident in knowing my directions. (photo below)
Standing on the porch I know which direction the sun sets and how to get to Nebraska. With that knowledge, I can find my way most places.
I often think of my intrepid ancestral homesteaders who ventured West, uncertain of what they would find in the Dakota Territories. However, and more importantly, perhaps they knew they could handle whatever the prairie offered them.
I understand that now, at the tender age of 50, in a way I didn’t when I was younger. I don’t know what’s next, but I know I can count on my interior geography to help guide my way.
to my VIDA collection. I hope you like these as much I loved creating them.
Here’s the link to my page.
Last week I had the pleasure of watching the American Masters documentary on PBS about one of my heroes, Great Depression photographer Dorthea Lange. Her work has greatly influenced my abandoned farmhouse hunting and photography whenever I visit my family in South Dakota. Dorthea’s compassion and unyielding desire to tell the tragic and heroic stories of our nation’s poor, interned and displaced through photography woke our nation up. Dorthea’s images prompted more action than print alone could possibly ever have conveyed.
I’ve always found great beauty among the ruins in all forms. Things that are new just don’t give me much creative juice. I like to see everything worn out, faded, distressed and destroyed. To me there’s always a lot more stories among the ruins.
You can watch the American Masters documentary online or look on demand from your local listings.
These images I shot with my niece south of Burke, South Dakota in January. I’m guessing someone will recognize the house, my sincere apologies for trespassing. The pull to see what was inside was just too much for us to resist.
There are links to Dorthea’s biography and images if you scroll down.
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.