Let me begin by apologizing for the dry spell between posts. The lapse in writing is not due to lack of activity, in fact it is the exact opposite. After over a month on the road with immersion, analysis, and interpretation of both the landscape and culture of the National Parks as my one and only focus, re-entry into my life in Vermont was a bit bumpy. I have spent the last three weeks jumping back into my busy life as a single parent of three college students, the mom of two wildly wonderful rescue dogs, the daughter of devoted and keenly interested mom, and the artist/owner of a busy teaching studio that had a full docket of 14+ classes per week ready to begin! With that, I have worked hard to find time to process my experience of the road... visually, emotionally and spiritually, gathering together the sites, conversations, and moments that I needed to both synthesize and get down on paper for the later work of gathering this entire project (painting, photography, and writing) together for a book and also going on the road to share with others. Here is a little taste of "the road"...
Thirteen National Parks and Monuments in just over 30 days is an enormous feat both physically and emotionally as a 46 year old women traveling alone with just the bare essentials - jeep, tent, sleeping bag, atlas/gps, camera, journal, miscellaneous gear and of course, paints! I experienced moments of fear, awe, doubt, triumph, exhaustion, peace, and most importantly HOPE along the way. Through the people I have met, the culture of the parks I both observed and participated in, I found hope in the determination of both committed park rangers and average joe Americans from all over the country to "double down" on protecting and preserving these places, keeping them open and accessible to everyone that wants to see and experience them. In the current climate of fear, anger, division, and hopelessness that we all find ourselves trying to navigate, I found my footing again energized by the "america" with a lowercase "a" that I rediscovered on the road. This america doesn't need to be made great again, it already is and has been all along. It is the america of people who optimistically with grit and passion dig deep to protect and cherish what is important in life (which never is about material items, wealth, or status), who care about and look out for those around them whether they are acquainted or not, who know that being good stewards of this planet home of ours is essential and makes us part of a greater global family or "tribe", and finally, that being part of that "tribe" means putting the greater good for our environment and the guy standing next to us is more important than our personal comfort and financial gains. In a time when America, patriotism, our flag, our anthem have all become pawns on the political chess board, I'll take the america I discovered on my journey and work as hard as I can to uphold, protect, and live up to the example I saw along the way.
That being said....What is next for me and Postcards from the Parks? Remember, this first road trip is only the beginning of this project, and my work has only just begun. Though I needed to come home to Vermont to get back to my job, students, earn some much needed income (that I was not making while on the road!), I also am having much needed processing time. This is what I mean by processing:
- Translating my experiences into writing
- Continuing to create artwork inspired from the sites I encountered
- Sharing about my trip and project, both through casual meetings and through organized talks at schools and colleges
- Creating prints of limited works that will be available for sale after the first of the year with the proceeds going to the National Parks Foundation, the Sierra Club, and to help fund my second road trip in spring 2018
- Preparing for my first major show of this developing body of work in February 2018 in London where I will also be a guest artist and teach workshops to middle and high school art students
- Continuing to look for funding through donations from individuals that believe in my project, patron partners, and grants for the arts
- Preparing for my second road trip in mid April 2018 where I intend to visit over 20 National Parks and Monuments traveling through New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington.
- Laying the ground work for my third trip in the fall of 2018 to visit the parks of the Eastern U.S.
- Continuing to bring awareness to this issue surrounding the need to protect and preserve these national treasure through sharing the issues in the form of better "real news", call and write to congress men and women, and help educate people on the topic.
Throughout this journey you know that I have been inspired by and tried to honor the work of the incredible artist/conservationist/activist Ansel Adams. I hope that in some small way my work via Postcards from the Parks can, like Ansel, inspire other stop, open one's eyes, experience, and act to protect our natural places. Drawing not only from his photography, but also from his life, work, and incredible optimistic belief in human nature which I was enlightened about while reading two of his biographies on the road...just fully immerse yourself in it I always say! Here is one particular quote that hit home for me and I hope it will bring something to you as well. This is why I have to do this work and will drop everything time and gain throughout the project to bring this world into focus for others, why I continue to join organizations and support them through donations even at times I can't afford to, and why I have been heard saying on more than one occasion (please forgive the blatant double negative) Once this project came to me as a sort of runaway freight train stream of consciousness, "I couldn't not do it!"
If you are reading this, you have become part of the Postcards from the Parks "tribe" and I thank you for you interest and support of my project along the way. Please continue to share with others, forward to friends, talk about the issue over coffee or across the dinner table, and help the tribe to grow - grass roots projects and initiatives are as powerful as the group of passionate people behind them...I couldn't do this work I believe so much in without all of you! Stay tuned for more news from Postcards from the Parks - there is going to be plenty going on between now and road trip #2 this spring!
"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path
and leave a trail."
Ralph Waldo Emerson