Creating artwork from landscape is a way of getting my bearings in a life of continued transience. It is how I make sense of the world around me. I am a native of eastern Iowa but as a child I had moved eight times by the age of eight—all within the same area. At 18, I left Iowa and moved to the West. Painting the landscape was a way to re-collect myself. An attempt to belong to a place. I found solace in wide-open spaces, desolate landscapes, and massive landforms of mountains, canyons, and ridges. I took careful notice of rock walls, exposed earth, geologic layers, entwined roots, branches, and trees, and cloud formations. The people around me with whom I share memories also become part of my landscape.
I suspect that I make art for many reasons that sometimes can only be hinted at—that search for sense of place; a questioning of family history and human connections; a re-collecting of personal story and memory; a preoccupation with the idea of time; and a spiritual connection to the natural world.
What is a cairn?
The name for a stacked pile of stones that are consciously placed by humans is a cairn. Its origins are Scottish Gaelic. In Celtic realms, they are a sort of spiritual way-station that commemorate those who have passed before. It was customary for the traveler to leave a stone at any cairn one passed. The stone becomes a symbol of the self, each passerby thus leaves something of themselves on the stone pile. The cairns occupy places of transition in history, travel paths, territory borders, and sometimes marked burials. In our modern day, they are used in the wilderness of deserts, mountains, forests and other landscapes to mark trails so a hiker can follow a certain path…even when the trail is no longer visible. They serve as a reassuring guide that others have passed this way and keep us from losing our way.