What are the stories we tell?
Mark Twain is quoted to have said "Write what you know." I have taken that advice to include the concept - Sense of Place when making my art books. Dr. Thomas A. Woods, President of Making Sense of Place, Inc., provides a lovely, textured definition of Sense of Place:
What is a Sense of Place?
People develop a "sense of place" through experience and knowledge of a particular area. A sense of place emerges through knowledge of the history, geography and geology of an area, its flora and fauna, the legends of a place, and a growing sense of the land and its history after living there for a time.
The feel of the sun on your face or the rain on your back, the rough and smooth textures of the land, the color of the sky at morning and sunset, the fragrance of the plants blooming in season, the songs and antics of birds and the cautious ramblings of mammals are environmental influences that help to define a place. Memories of personal and cultural experiences over time make a place special, favorite objects that shape to your hand or body with use, songs or dances that emerge from the people of a place, special skills you develop to enjoy your area--these too help to define a place and anchor you in it.
Through time, shared experiences and stories (history) help to connect place and people and to transmit feelings of place from generation to generation. Shared physical perceptions and experiences help people from different cultural groups fashion a local culture that expresses their unity in a place. Finally, place becomes unique and special for individuals and their group, and the group solidifies its identity through celebrations and rituals.
Developing a sense of place helps people identify with their region and with each other. A strong sense of place can lead to more sensitive stewardship of our cultural history and natural environment.As the years go by my appreciation for our little six acre oasis has grown. I wonder at times if I am the last of the earth lovers. Over the last ten years I have watched the parcels that did not 'perk' be developed. Communities all across America are being swallowed up by the gentrification mold that is consuming the land - farmland as well as wetlands, trees, open space and waterways. In my community the farmers and common sense folk are being replaced by the "instant people," those who have no care or respect for nature, water, or soil.
It has been difficult to watch. Since wisdom comes slowly I dare not disparage too loudly. Instead I try to respond to this disturbing trend by making art where my previous understanding has been changed or improved. In the end I may just speaking to myself, but don't you think it is important to review one's belief system once in a while? Is it not important to question the beliefs given to us by the others when we were children? As an adult, I am happy to say I have let go of the concepts of perfectionism, the biblical mandate to fill the earth and subdue it, and the many willful-man-models. I am relieved to find Mother Nature is forgiving. I find grace and peace within the folds of her earth skirt of many colors.
My latest art books are about two, maybe three subjects which cause many people to have opinions. The subjects are dandelions, crows and ants.
Illuminating Taraxacum officinales endeavors to shine a light on the humble and much maligned dandelion. The translucent images of the dandelion’s seed head can be hinged together to form 4 luminaries or into one long photo essay. The companion book contains facts, poems, childhood memories and a recipe. Perhaps I was trying to shine a light on hate as well. There seems to be so much hate in the world even small plants are caught in the battle. Is it possible to see the beauty and good?
Crow Anting is my fourteenth art book about the life and times on Thistledown Farm. One seldom ever sees a Crow Anting as crows are rather private creatures. They like to spy on us, but they do not like to be studied. I felt quite lucky to see the sky fill up with the dark raucous forms. They landed on tree and shrub and grass. The first crows strutted up the anthill with such great dignity. How quickly it turned into jumping and squawking, hopping and flapping. Laughing and guffawing came from the rest of the murder above. Amused by the sight I giggled too.
I have sent my entry form off to Puget Sound Book Artist Exhibition 2018. We will see if they both get in. The dates of the show are: June 4 - July 27, 2018 at University Puget Sound, Collins Library.
Till then I will be in the garden... learning more from Mother Nature.