Notes from the Artist
The interplay of stone and human touch (in this case, mine) and the creativity of imagination has evoked the beaded geometries and intricate patterns you see, sensing—as it were—the stories held in these stones. Preparing for this exhibit has taught me that these stones are more than mere artistic creations. . . they are voices of their own ancient living narratives.
And thus, my love affair with painting on stones—
Trips to Kachemak Bay, Chatanika River and Birch Creek. . . the racing heartbeat of a search. . . eyes and hands excitedly assessing every stone. . . buckets and baskets filled. . . the rituals of washing, drying, and sealing stone surfaces. The ritual too of sitting with each chosen stone, cupping its weight, admiring its surface, and listening—listening to the stone speak (yes. . .its story). Painting the patterned beadwork. Orchestrating the play of colors. And then when finished, sealing the stone once more before securing it in its hand-crafted, dovetailed, oak-framed box that has been sanded and re-sanded and polished with Tung Oil.
In a world where human interaction and relationships are all too quickly distilled into the “electronic touch” of cell phones, texting, emails, and instant messaging, I am honored to send my stones out into the world. I trust each stone will remind us of the enduring (and endearing) reality of touch in an increasingly “virtual world.”
offer our mind’s eye
a genealogy of origins
migrations through time and space
mysteries of awakening
and even the ascent into infinity—
if we have courage enough to listen
innocence enough to cherish their unfolding.
Yes! Even stones have stories
of the odyssey
confronting us all.
an oracle for our initiation
into spirit of fox,
spirit of owl,
spirit of earth and universe
ancient mother, goddess—
if we have courage enough to listen
to silence our electronic demons.
Come, touch lichen on rock—
Wait for the eclipse—
Collaborating with my daughter, Amy, on Living Narratives for her June 2011 exhibit at The Alaska House Art Gallery has been both a pleasure and an honor. Several months ago, she asked me to write a “found poem” for this exhibit like I did for two previous shows: Narratives of Memory, 2001, and Translations, 2008.
Writing a “found poem” is like walking the beach looking for shells, sea glass, or driftwood—things I have done countless times. As I walk, I am continually reaching down to pick things up. Then later, I enjoy each “find” and what first charmed my eye and stirred my imagination. In writing the poem Living Narratives, I focused on the 20 titles of the framed stones you see on the gallery walls. Like walking the beach, I didn’t know what I would find in these titles, or how they would entice my eye or imagination, or what, if any, poem would emerge. However, I will say this—once I had the first 3 lines, the poem just simply flowed, and for that, I am grateful.
But lest you get the wrong impression, much groundwork has gone into the poem. Amy and I had many phone and Skype sessions about these framed stones and what she believed the exhibit is about. We collaborated at length about the titles, and we listened carefully to what our eyes told us about the images and patterns on each stone. From the beginning, I sensed an organic synergy between these 20 framed stones. I trust that my poem, Living Narratives, evokes that and voices something of what these art pieces can tell us.
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