Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mapping Life and Editing Along the Way

 WATER, WIND, and TIME: Exposed #3 (Factory C)
Shanna Wheelock, 2013
Heartwood College of Art in their new digs at the North Dam Mill in Biddeford.
It's an amazing space!!!!
Contact HCA for more info on their low rez MFA program.
 The most fabulous beautifully-spirited women I could ever hope for in joining me on this journey.... sharing, growing, laughing, learning, creating, crying, (eating copious amounts of chocolate), and supporting one another.
Photo by Bonnie Faulkner
 My handmade book.
The Saturday MFA residency workshop was led by Bonnie Faulkner...pod-mate, artist, and teacher extraordinaire!
Bonnie also hosted us for a fabulous meal at her restaurant White Cap Grille in Portland. Amazing!!! I highly recommend!!!!
Making the prints.
My favorite color....grey! With just a tad of blue....
 A few of these prints made it to the finished book.
 Printmaking in the round at Heartwood College of Art.
Friday night critique.
Editing is key.
"I would like to tell you how to get there so that you may see this all for yourself. But first a warning: you may have already come across a set of detailed instructions, a map with every bush and stone clearly marked, the meandering courses of dry rivers and other geographical features noted, with dotted lines put down to represent the very faintest of trails. Perhaps there were also warnings printed in tiny red letters along the margins, about the lack of water, the strength of the wind and the swiftness of the rattlesnakes. Your confidence in these finely etched maps is understandable, for at first glance they seem excellent, the best a man is capable of; but your confidence is misplaced. Throw them out. They are the wrong sort of map. They are too thin. They are not the sort of map that can be followed by a man who knows what he is doing. The coyote, even the crow, would regard them suspicious."
"Desert Notes", Barry Lopez, 1976, excerpt from the essay titled "Directions" (page.55)
I found myself lost Friday night. Residency at Heartwood had wrapped up around 9:00 pm and I hopped in my car to make the short trek back to the hotel room. Earlier that afternoon I had been given directions by the hotel manager how to find my way to the new campus space. He said it was easy and wrote three "simple" turns that would be clearly marked. It turned out that the directions given were inaccurate from my point of departure and my arrival was not exactly what one would consider "fashionably late". It was more of an annoyance. Despite minor missteps, I felt confident that the return to the hotel room would be simple. I even saw a road sign on the main street that would clearly point me back to my room, a mere two miles away at most. After our MFA session ended for the evening, I confidently turned my car out of the campus lot, tired from a long day of travel, and set to return for a good night's sleep.
I don't know why I felt so confident that I could easily find my way back to the room. It was a new town, it was dark, and I had never even thought to write down the address of the destination. Not the best of planning on my end. I can get myself around Portland and Boston just fine, but for some reason, this little city threw off my internal GPS. I stopped to ask for directions, and again, a clear map was drawn for me by two very helpful mini mart workers. With a smile I was told that it was a simple drive and that I was literally three quick turns from the hotel.
An hour later, I stopped and asked for directions again. I was given visual markers and assured that it would be simple,  three turns including the one I would take out of the parking lot.
I did eventually make it back to the hotel, a five minute drive turned into nearly ninety minutes. A little worse for wear, perhaps a bit grouchy, but happy to be back to a familiar place.
The next morning I was again lost but this time only briefly. The return ride to the hotel later in the afternoon turned out to be simple (as I had been told many times!) and this time someone rode with me who had a GPS app, but even that turned out to provide inaccurate information.  Luckily my lessons from being  lost three times along this same path taught me which signs to look for. We made it easily back to the hotel and just as we were stepping onto the elevator, my phone rang. On the other end was a frantic pod-mate who, despite having her own GPS tracker, was lost and driving in circles. After a bit of deep breathing, she found the three simple turns to safely make her way back.
This is sort of how life has been presented. We map our days and years with a planned destination. Sometimes we know where we need to be, but the roads we take have far more twists and turns than we think. We need to allow for the unexpected. And once we find our way, help others as best we can through their own darkness.
This past week leading up to Heartwood residency was intense. I decided to throw away my map and put it out there for the universe to choose my course. I know that it will anyway, but the facade of thinking that we have more control than we do can be comforting. A walk and a conversation that I might be ready for the next part of my journey put my words and intention out there. At the time, it was more of a "thinking out loud" sort of thing, but little did I know that the energies were set in motion and now it feels like all has been kicked into an intense emotional high gear toward my purpose.
Of course, that is assuming that I have an inkling of what that might be.
I joined the Heartwood College MFA program four years ago, a member of the "pioneer pod".  At the time I had no idea how my path would unfold. It started with a postcard that showed up in my mailbox and I jumped in with a "what-the-hell-might-as-well-do-it" attitude. A lot of changes have come down the pike in these past four years, unexpected, and now here I am preparing to begin my thesis work. It has been a journey of self discovery and most recently re-awakening. Connections between my art and my self are being realized. Looking at my work and being able to finally acknowledge it as an extension of me at my deepest "kore",  (my experiences, fears, pains, hopes and joys) has been a profound experience.
I feel truly blessed to be on this path alongside others that I find inspiring. We have been each other's sounding boards and confidantes for four years. I always take from residency weekend a feeling that I have found that place where I am free to be my most quirky esoteric self and it is just understood as the norm.
I have returned to a microscopic corner of the world on this little peninsula ready to move forward. Open heart and ready (I hope) for the lessons that universe presents.




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