Welcome to MissouriBendStudio!

This is an online journal of my artistic investigations and a way to communicate about my work, ideas, quandries and queries! I welcome comments and conversation and do hope you enjoy these musings. My artwork is available in my shop MissouriBendStudio on Etsy.com or on my website.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Moving Rivers and Changing Trains

The Canadian geese are migrating, which is always a memorable sight, especially on the river. Their honking fills the air as they congregate on the sandbars by the thousands, then suddenly take flight....a moving cloud that undulates then dissipates as the birds gather once more on the water's edge. Delightful!

As you may or may not have noticed, I've been absent for a couple of weeks. We had a visiting artist from the Art Department staying with us and, while enjoyable, it threw my routine off. Once you get behind, it's really hard to get caught up and I felt overwhelmed by everything there was to do that wasn't getting done. It felt like trying to get back on a moving train. During this period of frustration, there came a time when I realized that perhaps I didn't want to get back on the same train at all, that perhaps I wanted to switch tracks and get on an entirely different train. I was tired of being so busy that all my time was accounted for....there was very little room for meandering, instead I moved through everything at break-neck speed. So, I gave myself permission to stop. I stopped making dailies for the MissouriBendMusings shop and that alone opened up space for me to just be, to have time on my days off to explore other possibilities. I still have a little daily practice of making small 3x3" drawings, but I had been doing that for months anyway, in addition to the drawings for the shop. By now, I have so much work from the last three years of having my Etsy shops, it's rather overwhelming. 

I stopped because I wanted to see what else could happen, what discoveries I could make without the pressure of "making" work for sale. Also at this time, I became reacquainted with the idea of "immersion" from reading the wall text that accompanied the photographs of William Wylie in an exhibition at the Joslyn Museum in Omaha. The foreword to the catalog was beautifully written by Merrill Gilfillan and the wall text contained excerpts from the catalog. It was then that I realized so much of my life had been lived on a kind of horizontal...I could see it as breadth as opposed to depth, which is what the word immersion evoked for me. 

You know how it is when you stop suddenly....all the things that were following at a certain pace behind suddenly come crashing into you. It was sort of like that, as I realized that I craved depth and immersion--the very thing missing from a life that had become filled with so much busy-ness. Right behind that realization, the next thing to come crashing in, as I began to ask myself the question of "immersion" in what exactly, was the sense of "place". An immersion in place. And then a moment of shame, as I realized that I live right on the banks of the longest river in North America, full of history, lore and a life force that has enormous power....and yet, when it comes down to it, I know very little about the Missouri River. An immersion in the Missouri River will necessarily entail learning more about the history of the land, the prairie, plant and animal life, the push and pull of conservation and commerce.....there is much to understand.

Here are two books I'm currently reading....they complement one another and feed this fascination with place. 

Grassland: The History, Biology, Politics, and Promise of the American Prairie by Richard Manning. It was already on my shelves from a used book sale at the library....just waiting for me to open it be open to it.

Magpie Rising : Stories from the Great Plains by Merrill Gilfillan. After reading the foreword from the catalog of photographs by William Wylie, I knew I had to read more of Merrill Gilfillan's work....so poetic and thought provoking.

What all of this means for my artwork, I have yet to know, but it will be evident in due time. For now, I'm content to feed myself with reading and with a rediscovery of the Missouri River and of the land where I make my home. The migrating birds are a gift and I anxiously await the warmer weather so I can meander outside for a longer period than it take to get to and from the car! 

I'll keep you posted....hope you are making some great discoveries of your own. Let me know...love to hear from you! Cheers!