During my June artist residency in Mississippi, I experienced a revelation. Laying on my back on a prairie staring at the cloud’s patterns, knew change was on the horizon and above. From this perspective, there was no top or bottom, North or South, and East or West. Nature doesn’t require a specific orientation or distinction. Its beauty and mystery encompasses everything without judgment or care.
From that moment, my future art practice would embodied this same perspective. The residency changed me forever. It occurred on the heels of Susan O’Malley’s passing and at time of trying to reconnect. Couldn’t help feel that life floats on borrowed time. And if that’s the truth, want to make every moment count.
How to maintain a freshness, lightness, and sophistication was the question. With my students, I often share the Navy design principle KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). When great art or anything appears minimal and elegant, it takes a master touch, thought, or years to achieve. How does one produce or maintain such excellence? Change and no fear of course!
Fascinated by flight or disorientation and its patterns, I started to merge together disparate events and experiences to create new narratives. Maybe Mississippi is to blame? As a result, created a series titled America that investigates diverse cultures and relationships between manmade and natural environments. JBV.7.15.171 documents the clouds above the San Francisco Bay and the sounds of Los Angeles International Airport.
JBA.6.15.1301, audio, 30 minutes 1 second:
The above audio was created during June 2015 artist residency at the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee and Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge. Sitting still on a red chair near the water’s edge, I recorded its sounds to be raw like life. Each 6-minute piece was made over a 24-hour period: 6 pm, midnight, 6 am, and noon. They are to be played in chronological order with a final recording of 6 minutes and 1 second performing all four at once.
No surprise that this thinking has now infiltrated other mediums. Excited and hopeful again. Thankful for its many forms. According to the History of the Choctaw, Chickasaw and Natchez Indian by H. B. Cushman, the Choctaw: “…believed that the Great Spirit communicated his will to man in dreams, in thunder and lightning, eclipses, meteors, comets, in all the prodigies of nature, and the thousands of unexpected incidents that occur to man.”
Time to observe and listen.