I went to the event with no preconceived ideas. I thought I would just show up and see what struck me. I walked out to the furthest edge of the property where the land starts to slope down. The grass had been just mowed. I was pretty much alone since I was the only one who had ventured this far. The sky was big and blue with a few wispy clouds. The ground was clear and dry. It was hot. There was little there, but I had brought a pair of gloves, a spade and some clippers. A plane crossed overhead. First you hear the noise and then you see the contrail behind. This was the genesis of my idea to create my own condensation trail. Within the hour several planes have passed leaving a series of crisscrossing lines that eventually disintegrated to the sky. I thought I would dig a line in the ground mirroring the planes' trajectories. This concept evokes a series of ideas: the mirroring of earth and sky, travel and personal journeys, technology and the spiritual, what is earthbound, hope and destinations, the curvature of the earth and globe.
A special thanks to Irma for finding me to take these great pictures.
This was a very new adventure for me. My goal was to learn what is important in land art making. I realized while working on my pieces that the work has to be bold and strong to be recognized. I wanted to pay attention to the land that our art would inhabit so I tried to observe my surroundings very closely. While I was walking down a hill I saw little ridges on the ground made by the land machinery during harvest and it occurred to me that the ripples I saw on the land were very similar to the way the waves run ashore on the coast that was visible in the distance.
I did not want to commit right away to the project and walked on to survey other areas on the property also because I had a concept on my mind, which had to do with borders, boundaries, fences and the analogies included in this concept. I found a space close to Irma's beautiful labyrinth that allowed me to make use of the fragile dry weeds growing there, creating a border with crepe paper weaving around the weed stalks. This work provided pleasure not only because of the weaving activity but also because of the rustling sound the crepe paper made in the wind like a conversation between land, wind, and myself.
Having completed the border I returned to my first observation with the goal to make the ridges obvious in their similarity to little ocean waves using weed that grew in the neighborhood. By cutting the weeds the same length and placing it right on the ridge, following its curve I had hoped top enhance that effect in the land. I only partially succeeded because I was running out of time. The Boldness I mentioned earlier was missing. However the lower light supported the effect in the late afternoon, which I did not account for but which helped enhance the effect.
I had a wonderful day, with what I consider the most valuable lessons in art making, learning and observing. It makes me even more appreciative when viewing land art by other artists.
These flower pedals are a tribute to the women in my graduating class of Ewha Women’s University in Seoul, Korea, who were given male names at birth, in hopes that their mothers would bear sons instead of daughters. White flowers represent those who were given male names. These customs are not practiced as widely practiced today, but its legacy still survives among many Korean women who today possess male names…many in my generation.
I have been fascinated by the beauty of spider webs for quite a long time. I am also drawn to the fleeting nature of these intricate creations. This work, Web has the same fate, it will be left to change and erode under natural conditions. Knowing that it was just a short existing piece, I enjoyed every moment when I was working on it. As I struggled to make a perfect octagon with paper strings, while I reconnected the strings after a bit too much tension made them broken… In the end, I reconfirmed that the process is the essential part of making art.
I had some cyanotype cotton fabric left over from a previous project so I made shadow prints from the vegetation on the land. After exposing, washing and drying the fabric I tied them to brambles as bits of fallen sky.
Red Circle of Lust and Industry
What I thought was a dung heap turned out to be a pile of soil left by a vole. I wet the soil and made a circle of toothpicks. I had been working with a lot of red thread recently so I worked them into the toothpicks. Perhaps the vole will find some use for the threads. Or perhaps a bird will line its nest. And perhaps coyote will use the toothpicks to pick his teeth after a satisfying meal.
Sitting Between Heaven and Earth
It started as a chair for my mother who is no longer on earth. I thought she would have liked this view on a hill overlooking the ocean. I wished she were still here to talk to. I have new questions for her, ones I wasn’t pondering before. I have new understandings I didn’t have before. I always wanted us to be peers, to be able to speak woman to woman. Now it can only happen between worlds.
May this seat hold me between heaven and earth as I face new challenges. May the earth and sky be my allies. May I have conversations with my mother as I look out to the infinite sea.
She Holds Them
She holds them: stories of anger, sadness, questions, and knowing.
She painted and wrote secrets and tied them into pods and placed them in a hidden place of dirt and twigs and straw. Perhaps they will sprout into new things, new beginnings, as things often do in the care of the mother.
Wishing Tree Prayer
…amends, alms, forgiveness, anger, rage, screams, tears, hatred, prayers, supplication, humiliation, fist pounding, cessation, agony, terror, fear, sadness…power, beauty, grace, peace…naught, not, 0, and 1 will not replete, new boundaries, no boundaries, new beginnings…coming undone to be redone…the stuff of stars…a votive offering…love, change the downward spiral…strong, safe, warm, kind. Did it work? Yes.
I wrote prayers & poems & stories on strips of white, blended cotton/silk fabric with gold & silver leaf ink pens, and then tied these to the branches of a willow tree, leading visitors along a path of draped willows branches to the center of the bosk, where I constructed a nest out of ferns, willow branches, and Spanish moss, “glued” together with mud, which I placed in the notch of the central willow tree. On top, I placed fire stones, and a small heart shaped quartzite rock - a small cairn as a memorial. At first glance, the nest was indistinguishable from the tree, but with quiet reflection it became obvious that it was something humanly built and purposefully placed. Nests = new beginnings. In addition to the tied strips white cotton/silk, I added a few bits of colored cotton and silk fabric that had special meaning to me. The path was lined with long fern fronds and agave leaves, much like a landing strip, leading visitors in.
My introduction to land art was to ‘make something visible from a small plane overhead’. I’ve never forgotten that and it continues to guide my land art. Having said that, I haven’t yet been able to make something on that scale, say 30 meters across, in fact, most of it is so subtle so as to be virtually invisible, even when standing next to it.
This year’s attempts fall into that category: braiding wild grass into crop rows, maybe 30 meters long but only 20 cm. wide or braiding raspberry canes, again maybe 30meters long but 10 cm. wide. Ephemeral is part of land art, too: the crop rows will be gone by spring, however, the braiding raspberries should continue to grow, so that in 5 years, someone might wonder how that came to be.
The final project contained the blackened clay from the 1st year spread out in a circle, topped by a bucket of thistle flowers. Not large enough to be seen from the air, it is certainly ephemeral as the clay will melt into dirt with the first rain and the thistles are already consigned to the compost heap (they are an invasive nuisance plant).
Weaving the landscape
There are many straight lines, grids and patterns formed in the landscape when inhabited by people. The loom that I created echoed the straight lines formed by the fences, roads and straight edges of the buildings in view.
My goal was to create something impermanent and free to move with the wind, and that had elements that would move and shake with the wind as the wild grasses do on the hillsides. While the grasses I collected moved with the wind while growing, including them in the 'weave' made them static. The sewn paper circles woven into the threads, reproduced the inherent movement & rattle of the grass made static.
Oshun, or Ochun, in the Yoruba religion of West Africa, is an Orisha (deity) who reigns over love, generosity and diplomacy. Her principal day of the week is Saturday and the number she is associated with is 5. Her color is a golden yellow she is associated with fresh water.
My totem was a prayer for peace, love and charity to envelope the world.
Positioned on the hillside near the volcano, the message (and hope for generosity of spirit) can be spread by the wind.
Driving back from the state of Washington I was struck by all the fires that are raging on the west coast now. The little snow pack on Mt. Shasta that is grey black in color and how hot it was stopping at Castle Crags for a nights sleep, it was 102 at 6pm. Thinking of all the physical changes that is happening to our own back yard, community, our planet and how we need to adjust and provide ways for healing to happen.
We have 85 invasive plant species with 56 determined harm full. San Francisco Bay area presents a big problem in fighting these plants. Most came from the ballasts of ships into the ports of San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento and Stockton.
So being in prayer and thought of this, I wanted to create a Medicine Wheel in Pescadero in providing a vortex of healing. We will never be able to remove all non-native species from our soil but maybe we can maintain a balance. Like ourselves events happen and we suddenly find ourselves in new territory. It is only when we find balance that we can continue in knowing the wisdom is in the search for balance.
I was so looking forward to this Pescadero land day, but as the day approached I was able to walk less and less due to an old injury flare up. But I really wanted the adventure of going to the site, and was still anticipating the day eagerly. By that morning, I realized I would only make it half a day, if that, so decided to use the opportunity to do some photos of airborne things, etc. My actual earth mark, made near the end of my stay, was very small indeed: a cane-marked heart that was very faint, so much so that I had to turn it into a square for the photo, and that felt just fine because: Way up on the hill there I really smelled the earth and felt the sky and light coolish breeze: a very light impression on the earth from me for the day, focusing on the floating bugs, butterflies, weed fairies, birds, clouds, moving fog, dancing plants, and other wind blown items, recorded in the ephemeral way of the digital camera: I honored the impermanence of the wind herself.
I was thinking about the mathematical string art that I made in algebra class. I saw the long, thin, sticks and I thought I could replicate the string art.
It is a 90-degree angle that makes a perfect curve.
I was looking for some contrast in the acres the golden hills, so decided to gather the glistening white stones and clear a space in the hay to expose the black soil. I added to the grass that naturally piled up on the sides making a nest. I shaped the rocks in a galaxy formation, ever expanding outwards. I liked the idea of the pulling and pushing: the rocks were growing and expanding, while ultimately being safely contained.
Although a great fan of Ana Medieta's Land Art, I had the full intention to make a related piece on site.
Once I was on location I gravitated toward making a piece inspired by Andy Goldsworthy. With the help of my teen who cut the big branches, I was able to cut by hand all the smaller branches and arrange them into a big circle. It is a feathery circle that alludes to a flower in full bloom. It now sits on the hill next to Pedro's piece.