I've been thinking a lot about another book I recently read, one that I will cherish for a long time to come. Nine Ways To Cross A River by Akiko Busch is a beautifully written tale of swimming across rivers (nine of them to be exact) both literally and metaphorically. While her ventures in seeking out and navigating particular rivers to swim across is fascinating, what most resonates for me is the metaphor of the river, the notion of the crossing and negotiating the current.
We are each engaged in navigating the river throughout our lives. Maybe because I live on the Missouri (seen below), the river is always present in my life and in my work as a metaphor for the journey we each undertake. Lately, I've come to think of the importance of any particular moment in our lives as an intersection of time and place. And, if we imagine that our life, from birth to death, is the crossing of the river from one side to the other, then our location in that journey is met with the waters that are flowing downstream, from the past to the future. This is where we find ourselves at any moment, navigating the current. Sometimes the current is so strong it threatens to take us under, in others we find ourselves swept downstream during our crossing. And yet, we long for those moments when we can cross without struggle, able to relax and enjoy the view, completely in the flow. Our crossing encompasses all these experiences and more, all of which are difficult to articulate.
I've begun what might become a series of drawings about this idea of the intersection, finding ourselves a particular point in time and in place. Below is a tiny snippet of one of the drawings....really just a layering of marks, lines that come to resemble flow...possibly the flow of a river, even without trying to draw the flow of a river...if that makes sense. This is just the beginning of this layered mark making....I will see where it takes me as lines build, one on top of the other.
I think the inspiration for this notion came to me from glancing over at one of the daily drawings I'd made the day before, as seen below. This reminds me of the importance of the daily drawings and the fact that they are made without thinking, without trying....the only effort is in keeping the hand moving until I feel the moment of making is over. Because it is completely internal and comes from a place without language, I sometimes see patterns and other things that trigger new thoughts and ways of seeing. We all operate from this place throughout our lives in ways we don't realize...but more on that another time!
Now, it is time for me to get back to work, juggling the school work with the studio work. I will say that the studio is definitely gaining the upper hand! I hope you are finding yourself in the flow of your particular river, not struggling against a strong current.
I will leave you with this quote from W. H. Auden, referenced in Nine Ways to Cross a River.
"Great art is clear thinking about mixed feelings."
Thanks for reading...it gives me cheer to know you are out there!