Entering my forties, I’ve experienced whiplash caused by artistic and good intentions. The injury has been self-imposed by a sense of purpose, discovery, and truth. Far from perfection, my arsenal includes a diverse inventory from pens to video recordings. Traversing the natural world elicits a narrative true of one’s self. Art is the captain of my ship. I’ve trusted it through smooth and rough waters. It is my security, guide, and religion.
China, Montana, and California hold my spiritual passport for the last five weeks. Destinations of contractions and similarities, it’s no wonder I check my internal compass for coordinates. Strangers become friends than family on a small planet named Earth. Distance is no longer a reality: it is only a concept.
Land has been the common thread with advocating and protecting its cause. At the Shanghai Oil Painting & Sculpture Institute Museum, my acrylic installation represented an arrow anchored in the land. Its shape is similar to the Chinese character of 土 (tŭ) when translated means “Earth” in English.
Recently, had an art opening at the Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell, Montana. My artworks were inspired by the institution’s architecture, history, natural surroundings, and cultural influences. Before traveling to Kalispell, a visit to Livingston to the gallery and home of artist Parks Reece was on the agenda. First meeting Parks in China last November, his zeal for life is contagious and authentic. It’s no surprise his artworks adorn the Bozeman airport permanently greeting visitors. Parks’ playful perspective pokes fun while providing commentary on environmental injustice.
Onwards to Ronan, Montana to visit the artist studio of Corwin Clairmont and Linda King. Had the opportunity to witness Corwin’s powerful public artwork under a big sky hugged by rugged mountains. Linda shared her masterful beading and artistic skills. Affiliated with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation, both artists are committed to preserving tradition within their art practice.
Corwin and Linda graciously provided a Salish Kootenai College tour where they founded and worked at. From the website: “The mission of Salish Kootenai College is to provide quality post-secondary educational opportunities for Native Americans, locally and from throughout the United States. The College will promote community and individual development and perpetuate the cultures of the Confederated Tribes of the Flathead Nation.”
The next evening was the Common Ground art opening at the David Brower Center in Berkeley. The exhibit celebrated the National Park System by presenting artworks that reflect the importance and advocate for their protection. My video installation features a Yosemite backdrop with audio from a Native American auction.
Land is home and art will take me there. From Shanghai to Berkeley, we are connected on Earth. It’s our responsibility to protect it near and far. Amen.