Haven't we wanted, all along, to try on boundlessness like mutable, starry clothes? This phrase from Mark Doty's poem, Nocturne in Black and Gold, comes to mind on return from Canyon de Chelly, where I had the privilege of spending a week with ten women– one of whom is a Dine (Navajo) guide. It was a poetry retreat.
I don't fully believe that time away, time free from electronics or any interruption from the world outside, is as much a part of my work as the time in my studio, until I do it. After a few days in the desert I become so thoroughly steeped in stars and stone, so free from concern, that I have no doubt that this is the fuel for my work. I love this feeling of renewal, of beginning again. Here is my poem from the canyon:
Prickly pear Pinyon pine Raven calling
Above the canyon rim one black bird and one white bird soar. Thousand-year-old pictures carved in stone– The Ancient One plays a flute, lifting his gift to the sky.
Navajo horses nibble the wild grasses. Globe mallow sways in the morning breeze: Vermillion, scent of sage –
Rock monoliths rise wearing varnished necklaces of black, traces of once–water seeping through time.
Dark of the moon – flash of a bat against the fire This is what I was waiting for – to be the item on the list with no number.
To be this comfortable stretched out on stone, as if the water that shaped its arc millennia ago made it less solid, porous –
So permeable that I am folded into it, both of us made of liquid and time.
Here are some images from my sketchbook:
Returning home, (dusty from being without running water or electricity) – I felt all new, as if some extra layers of atmosphere traveled with me.
I had a few days back in Louisville before enrolling in a class with Dorothy Caldwell called Human Marks. What a pleasure! If you get a chance to be in her class, do!
Here is some of the work I did from her class:
We experimented with making marks with thread, fingers, burning incense, smoke and ink. The binding is a simple weaving technique. All this experience is stirring up new ideas for my work, and for teaching!