Early this year I started painting some watercolor images of scenes from national parks. Some were from photos I had taken, others were inspired by photos in the myriad books about the parks that Patrick and I had collected over the years, in anticipation of writing a book of our own. I had found that I couldn't easily create a fiber landscape from someone else's photo--the lines just didn't seem to make sense. But if I used the photo as a jumping off point for a painting, I could then translate it into cloth quite nicely. Something about having to internalize the lines and masses, I guess.
I had also remembered a poem by John Berryman, who was a professor at University of Minnesota when we were there. He struggled with addictions and personal problems and eventually took his own life. But the poem, "Eleven Addresses to the Lord, #1" was read by Garrison Keillor on the Writer's Almanac feature on NPR, and I was struck by its honesty. I looked it up, printed it out, and have used it as the theme for a series of small landscapes that will be part of Stories in Needle & Threads, my solo show that opens next Saturday. The poem is about faith and doubt. This is the stanza that explains my series title:
"I have no idea whether we live again.
It doesn't seem likely
from either the scientific or the philosophical point of view
but certainly all things are possible to you,
and I believe as fixedly in the Resurrection-appearances to Peter and
as I believe I sit in this blue chair."
John Berryman, Collected Poems (Farrar Straus Giroux)
There are 13 pieces in the series so far; each includes a blue chair. The image above is #5, and of course it's Grand Canyon at sunset. I vividly remember how it did look like this in 1983 when we went down the canyon in wooden boats and enjoyed July Fourth fireworks at the bottom of the canyon.
And this is #6, "Alaska Shore." I photographed the mural on a weathered building when we visited the 49th state in August of 2010. It was very satisfying to be able to use the photo for this piece, and working on it took me right back to that lovely cruise.
After the exhibit is up I'll put the series into the website. But for now, if you're curious you'll have to come to Fayetteville TX and see them all in place. I might even get one more finished before the 24th.