Yesterday I had a perfect summer day to take a walk in Old Lyme to check in on the Vision Boxes. The boxes were installed in mid- June thanks to a great deal of community collaboration and support. At mid afternoon, Great blue herons, egrets and mute swans were busy along the shoreline sites as were kayakers and fishermen. The coastline boxes, one on the viewing platform on the boardwalk at Ferry Landing and the other at Watch Rock had a seen a great deal of public engagement. The notebooks in the boxes were full of comments and a bit soggy from the recent rains. I needed to put two new notebooks in.
At the board walk I met a local resident from Old Saybrook who often comes out to sit and reflect from the viewing platform. He offered to steward the box- so it now has several sentinels, the State workers at DEP Marine Headquarters are also watching it.
Inland I visited the Barbizon Oak box sited on land protected by the Open Space commission, next to the Old Lyme Inn and across from the Florence Griswold Museum. The walk in is through the woods and along a small meadow. There are the stone remains of a large barn and along the trail are impressive anthills created by Formica ants.
As you get closer to the oak made famous as the inspiration for numerous paintings from the American Impressionists, the roar of Interstate 95 drowns out the bird calls and wind in the trees. The highway noise reminds one of what could have happened to this grand oak – it too could have been chopped down for our relentless need for progress.
But now in this patch of forest glade protected by the Old Lyme’s Open space commission one hears the conflict we face more and more of how to manage the land, and for whom? The trail of Vision boxes will be up into early September so you can take your own walk and reflect. On July 19th there will be a reception for the project at the Lyme Art Academy with a short walk planned to two of the boxes. Here is the map with the four sites so you can take your own walk.
For me, wood is a material that is akin to human skin. We see its history, its growth marks, how its been loved abused and broken- then grown back around those scars. The wood in my sculpture comes from the forest I live, walk, and dream in.
This month I’ve been working on full size pieces for “Forest Memoir” , preparing to cast them in bronze. The initial work will feature two chairs growing back into the forest.
All the final elements for the Vision Box project for Old Lyme, Connecticut, are coming together. The permits for the sites are in, the graphic designer is working on our logo and mapping, the collaborating artists have done their beautiful panels and I’m just finishing the sculptural elements. Their installation on May 30th will mark four special places in town, the sites along the marshes, river front and woodland still look like they might have a century earlier when the plein air painters first discovered Old Lyme at the turn of the 20th century. Thanks to efforts of conservation organizations in town we can still enjoy the beauty and wildness that attracted the artists.
Once its all up plan on a visit and walk through Old Lyme to visit the boxes. More on the project and its generous sponsors soon.
At the end of May, I finish up as the first Schumann Foundation Visiting Artist in Environmental Art at Lyme Art Academy.My last class was last week and I’m preparing for the public lecture I will deliver on Thursday, May 10th entitled: Vision /The Artist’s Gaze and the American Land Conservation Movement. The idea for the talk comes out of the process of creating a collaborative public art piece which will be installed in June at numerous sites in town. For the past few months, weather permitting, I’ve walked the marshlands along the Connecticut River and tromped through forests and fields. I’ve been following in the footsteps of the plein air painters who’ve been inspired by this area, most notably the artists who made up the American Impressionist Colony at the turn of the 20th century.The artists came for the quality of light by the river, the open fields, mature trees and the hospitality to be found at the boarding house owned by Florence Griswold. Today the house and its grounds are the Florence Griswold Museum, presenting the works of the American Impressionists as well as dynamic contemporary exhibitions.
My companions during my walks have been residents and local stewards who are alsobusy working on local land trusts. Thanks to them and others like them, many of these places in Old Lyme that I explored are now under conservation retaining many of the qualities that would have attracted the painters more than a century ago and continue to inspire artists today. As the months went by I began to make the connection between artistic and conservation vision, I realized that what had happened in Old Lyme was a unique microcosm of what had happened in other parts of the country.
Places like Yosemite andYellowstone Park were documented by artists long before they were even parks. It was their artistic gaze, their paintings and photographs that opened people’s eyes to the majesty and importance of wild and open spaces in our country, eventually encouraging policy makers to preserve large tracts of land. The talk on Thursday will touch on this history and introduce the public to the public art project entitled “Vision Boxes” which will be installed by the beginning of June.
The talk is open to the public, I hope you can join us.
If you listen long enough in the forest you begin to hear the untold stories. Three years ago I began to dream of trees on wheels because I sensed that trees wanted to move. They have an intelligence that is as sophisticated as our human species– maybe more so. The mind of the forest is a collective mind which is all underfoot as we walk through the forest, their roots come together to communicate and help each other with a network made up of fungi.
But back to the trees moving- they are moving as a species because of climate change. A recent article in the Atlantic Magazine, informs us that they are moving more West then North as scientists expected. So I’m not crazy, trees do have a life of their own that we barely comprehend, and they are moving.
Thanks to the winter weather the talk for Feb 8th was rescheduled. I’ll be talking on Wednesday, February 28th about the inspiration for the installation “What We Choose to Remember…” based on one of my trips back to Cuba. The piece is part of a group exhibition curated by Alva Greenberg, On Another Note: The Intersection of Art and Music
Feb 9th- March 15th Duets Exhibition at ArtProv Gallery, Providence, RI. This exhibition juxtaposes the works of three artist couples. My husband and I are one of the couples. There will be two receptions for the exhibit: Friday, Feb 9th, and Thursday, March 15th, both from 5-9 pm, gallery is located on 150 Chestnut Street, Third Floor, Providence, RI
Jan 19th-May 10thSchumann Visiting Artist in Environmental Art at the University of New Haven Lyme Art Academy School of Fine Arts. I’m honored to be the first artist to fill this position. The next 5 months will be spent exploring the ecology and history of the estuary landscape of Old Lyme with art students. Old Lyme is at the mouth of the Connecticut River Watershed which extends all the way into Canada. Throughout the spring I’ll also be working on my own installation about my explorations there, I’ll post more as I get to know the area. That installation will debut with an artist talk on May 10th at the Lyme Art Academy.