more images from my prairie & sea series…

There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.

—Victor Hugo, French author of Les Misérables

taking pictures of pictures…

While sorting old photos I was struck by the frequent composition I’ve shot for decades. The dominant landscapes of my life share something quite powerful with my sense of self. The proof is in the piles of photographs I need to sort through.

Without lots of breathing room, easily feel claustrophobic.

Walking Town Neck Beach on Cape Cod I get a familiar sense of spaciousness..and then often an accompanying longing for the South Dakota prairie where I grew up. The way these sensations are intertwined, my native Nebraska artist friend, Elizabeth Bunsen, and I have named our “interior geography”.

Interior might not quite describe how truly primal these feelings are for me.

I was going to edit all of these photos of photos which would’ve taken hours. However, since this is the first step in a series I’m working on I thought showing the images raw was more interesting.

What is your interior geography?

the prairie and the sea…

Valentine’s Day seemed like the perfect day to post about two of my great loves—the prairie and the sea. I started this project with these first two photographs. I got quite obsessive while working on these images. I photographed smoke bombs I bought at the dollar store for the cloud layer I wanted. I like the surreal quality of the images…dreamlike perhaps.

“I like a good story and I also like staring at the sea– do I have to choose between the two?”
― David Byrne, How Music Works

Happy Valentine’s Day!

art not shared…

or part of a series of work…so far anyway.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

—Maya Angelou

dumbstruck & gobsmacked…

Yesterday was my 55th birthday, it was an extraordinary day in so many ways. Thank you universe, you really stepped up this year. Autumn has always been my favorite time of year and not just because I was born in October.

“A man is what he thinks about all day long.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve thought about this quote and others of this ilk a lot lately—we are the company we keep and what we focus on grows, what you become, you think…the list goes on & on.

Reading news, focusing on lack or placing blame for for how I FEEL creates chaos in my mind and wastes my energy. I’ve deliberately surrounded myself with beauty in the last week. This is pretty elemental I suppose. However, my mind’s inclination can shift on a dime if I’m not paying attention. This week my screen time is down dramatically and my mood is elevated…seems deliberateness needs to be practiced.

Do I want to be fueled by confusion, fear, and outrage or dumbstruck & gobsmacked by the absolute beauty of the universe?

I’m pretty sure I’ve answered my own question.

prowl, prey & nourish…

It doesn’t matter where I find myself in the world, my natural waking state is roughly an hour before sunrise. I instinctively am a predawn prowler. The nourishing solitude of watching night turn to day stirs something in me that’s deeply primal and ancient.

All summer I roam Town Neck Beach in Sandwich, Massachusetts following coyote tracks and scavenging the beach. Back home in Vermont now, my predawn habits shift. However, my prowling and the way I feel doesn’t change one bit.

dawn: to begin to grow light as the sun rises

prowl: to move about or wander stealthily in or as if in search of prey

wander: to move about without a fixed course, aim, or goal

prey: an animal (idea, objects?) taken by a predator (scavenger?) as food (nourishment)

scavenge: to salvage from discarded or refuse material

nourish: to promote the growth of

What else, other than nourishment, are the coyotes prowling for in their predawn wanderings?

What I’m searching for when prowling, other than solitude, shifts dramatically like the tides of the North Atlantic.

install now OR remind me later?

Recently I read; Is Self-Awareness a Mirage? by David Brooks in the New York Times. It got me thinking…are there better questions to be asking myself at nearly fifty-five?

“Maybe we can’t know ourselves through the process we call introspection. But we can gain pretty good self-awareness by extrospection, by closely observing behavior. (Nicholas) Epley stressed that we can attain true wisdom and pretty good self-awareness by looking at behavior and reality in the face to create more accurate narratives.”

Is Self Awareness a Mirage? By David Brooks, New York Times

Here’s my go to story (personal myth) about myself: I was a very independent young person and this affects almost all of my behaviors. I didn’t even want my mom to walk me to kindergarten, I was only four.

Do decades old explanations about the WHYs of my behavior matter as much as current observations of WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, and HOW I behave?

Hummmmmmmmmmm…

My independence was a strategy I adopted based on my nature and circumstances. The story of it has served me well and is a character trait I’m often proud of often.

However, like most concepts of self, there’s a shadow side too.

Perhaps it’s time to update my operating system and not overly rely on old myths about my younger self.

My independent nature is no excuse for outsized and often confusing responses to basic questions from my family.

When will you be home? What’s for dinner? Who are you texting? Are you busy now?

Good grief, these questions are not immediate threats to my sense of youthful independence. Responding as if they are though, can be hurtful and confusing to the people I love the most.

So, thank you Younger Self, I’m truly grateful for all of the stories/myths of my life. I promise to summon you when spontaneity, risk, and fun are in question. You’re a great resource for those areas of my life.

I have to be honest though, your operating system doesn’t make quite as much sense to me in midlife…it’s time to look forward and hit install now, instead of remind me later.

prairie gothic…

Growing up, I felt there were basically two kinds of prairie descendants. Those folks who felt restless and longed for further exploration, and those folks who planted themselves so firmly that no other life was even ponderable.

In my estimation, both ways of living honored the ancestors who headed west and gambled on a new life…deciding, leaving, proving it up, or calling it quits. It all took guts, no matter how things turned out.

“We had no choice. Sadness was as dangerous as panthers and bears, the wilderness needs your whole attention.”
―Laura Ingalls Wilder

I don’t know what to make of these…

Sometimes I create images and I don’t know what to make of them exactly. Today, is one of those days. I would’ve preferred using images of other people…I wasn’t in the mood to ask for and wait for permission though. Shocking to those of you who know me well, I know.

OK, if I had to guess what sparked these now that I’m about to post them. I think they are about being honest with myself and protecting my heart, even when faced with uncomfortable truths I would rather deny or compartmentalize in some way.