Sky/Water II:June 27, 2013; 5:22 PM; Lookout Creek at Discovery Trail
June 27, 2013; 5:22 PM; Lookout Creek at Discovery Trail
Oil on 6 Wood Panels, 45 in. x 142 1/2 in.
Sky/Water maps the color patterns of Lookout Creek in the Andrews Forest and the sky above at the same instance from the vantage point of standing on a bridge over the creek. Maps, especially topographical maps, can introduce the map reader to a new place without being physically present in that place, maps can help to navigate through unfamiliar terrain while within it, and they can also serve as a vehicle of remembering a place that has been left behind. Topographical maps are almost tactile, and by their linear nature they show the flow of the land. They are specific, yet simultaneously intriguingly abstract. With their specificity, topographical maps allow the viewer to almost feel the terrain while running a finger along the parallel lines that define contours made by the earth. Yet at the same time they are abstract enough to allow the map reader to imagine the place those contours create. Both the specificity and abstraction are an invitation for imagining or remembering ourselves in the place, and create the feeling of being there.
Years ago I floated in a hot air balloon above Coloma, California. I could feel when the balloon crossed over a current into an eddy, and the breathtaking quiet and stillness of drifting at the same speed as a current of air. As I felt the air currents move us through the valley, I peered down at the American River flowing below. The feel of the eddies and currents of the air closely resembled the nature of water currents. This sensory experience added another layer of knowing the Coloma River Valley intimately, building upon my relationship with this place and its river that had begun decades earlier when I first started learning the feel of the river currents and the taste of the water by boat. This was my foundation of building a deep and enduring sense of place.
In a moment of remembrance, I stood on a bridge in the HJ Andrews Forest over Lookout Creek in January under a sky full of clouds laden with snow. Air and water currents are in constant flux, independent of each other, yet still intricately connected. Although the patterns are changing continuously, they are also predictable and fairly consistent. Once one learns how to read the patterns of the terrain, one can anticipate and begin to move in harmony with the currents.
Standing between the water and the sky, I wondered if I could bridge the gap of direct sensory experiences of the flows of the currents of air and creek by creating a topographical map of the patterns of color relationships that existed in a fleeting moment in time, at a specific place. Could I map a memory of color flow to later run my finger along, to create a tactile experience of “being there” long after I have left? Could it help me navigate, remember, and imagine these new currents, and begin to build a new relationship with a new place?
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