This is not a Challenge

Metanoia Catalyst at Night, (Image by Sunny Selby)
Q: Do you think your art challenges the viewer’s perception of the world?
Metanoia Catalyst in Progress - Clamps

Metanoia Catalyst in Progress – Clamps

An Invitation:

Challenging perception is too confrontational for my liking and it implies that I: 1) know the viewers’ worldview and 2) have an agenda to change it. Neither is true.

Instead of a challenge, I see my art as an invitation.

Fern Ridge Project: One Year, Four Sites (Spring)

Fern Ridge Project: One Year, Four Sites (Spring), oil on 4 wood panels, Leah Wilson

Ask the land a question. Your question can be simple. Mine usually are. I ask questions with the intention of having the land reveal patterns I haven’t seen or noticed.

These are some questions I have asked: What is the average color of this river?; How is my perception of the color of the water affected by the stream bed versus the color of the water?; How does the time of year change the way this creek appears?; What are the most prevalent colors in two adjacent fields that are maintained for different purposes? How will that change as one field becomes increasingly more similar to the other?; How does the light quality change as I move up through the forest canopy? What will I see if I witness each and every sunrise this year?

The specific question isn’t very important. Its main purpose is to provide structure and focus to your burgeoning relationship with the place. The question directs the way that you will interact with the place.

Fern Ridge Project: One Year, Four Sites (Summer)

Fern Ridge Project: One Year, Four Sites (Summer), oil on 4 wood panels, Leah Wilson

The important aspect is that you show up regularly and you listen carefully. When you do, you will start to hear the stories told by the land. The land will reveal things to you slowly and mostly subtly.

When you listen you will begin to know things that will become embedded within you. You will feel a connection forming with the place, and you will most likely want to strengthen it. The land will bring you unexpected gifts and your next question could very well be asking what you can bring to it in return.

As you listen to the stories it has to tell, the land will challenge your perception of the world more effectively than my art can. It’s a powerful story teller. It will teach you things that I cannot teach you. It will reveal things to you that I cannot with my art.

Listening to the Forest, Detail, Western Hemlock Mid Bole, 21, Leah Wilson 17 of 27

Fern Ridge Project: One Year, Four Sites (Fall), oil on 4 wood panels, Leah Wilson

My art is merely recording to the best of my ability the stories that are revealed to me. What will you do with the stories that the land tells you?

Listening to the Forest, Detail, Western Hemlock Mid Bole, 21, Leah Wilson 17 of 27

Listening to the Forest – Process, Climbing the Discovery Tree, Leah Wilson

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