Well, multiple Nor'easters in New England and "The Beast from the East" descending on the UK didn't manage to stop me from taking Postcards from the Parks on the road for the first public exhibition of my work from this project, but the weather certainly made things more interesting! Though this Northern Vermonter found London's "worst storm in decades" a bit lack luster compared to our everyday life from November to April, it was exciting and exceedingly entertaining to watch as the UK tried to deal with a bit of snow (less than 6 inches) and ice. The storm shut down just about everything, even receiving an amber level alert in many areas which was explained as "likely death" if one were to venture outdoors!
Despite the weather, we managed to transform the Fleming Gallery into a showcase of America's National Parks and Monuments from Road Trip #1. Over 50 paintings in acrylic, watercolor, and mixed media, as well as with over four dozen black and white photographs of vast breathtaking landscapes and intimate close-up moments along the trail I blazed this past fall. I had the privilege of working with John Smalley and Camila Aguais at TASIS England and the Fleming Gallery to curate and hang this show. In addition to the excitement of gallery setup, I had the wonderful opportunity to give gallery talks and workshops with students and faculty to share about my trajectory as an artist/educator/ and now art activist! Ranging in age from 12 to 18, these enthusiastic, curious, and engaged students are examples of the up and coming generation in whom we need to nurture a passion to protect our environment, to save these places that are endangered, and to problem solve solutions to the big environmental problems they are inheriting from the generations that came before them.
It was inspiring to see their response to my work-this project which is only partially completed at this point-and hear stories of National Parks they have visited and special memories that have from time spent in the wilds of nature. I was able to relive a bit of my journey on the road, retelling stories of encounters with bear and bison, as well as the quiet moments of being all alone in a breathtaking landscape. I was both deeply touched and emboldened to continue this project with my gift of art, an outgoing personality, and a singular voice to bring this issue to the public through stories, experiences, and of course, ART!
As an artist, it is always an amazing experience to see your work that you are so enmeshed with matted, framed and hung in a beautiful space designed specifically to present art. Yet, I found myself not quite prepared to see this body of work up on the wall-to be honest, I was stunned both visually and emotionally. This was an enormous body of work created in just five short months (and much of it within the month-long road trip west done plein-air). I was flooded with moments, people, and emotions I experienced along the way and was anxiously energized to get back out there and bring these people, places, and the plight of our public lands to light with my pencil and paint brush! I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to share see this work (so far!) in an exhibition and have my first school presentation that hopefully is the first of many engagements to use this project as a vehicle to promote awareness, appreciation, action and protection for our National Parks, Monuments and public lands. Next stop down the path - Yale University on April 19th! What an honor it is to be able to share this grassroots project with some of our country's brightest and motivated students (all of which will be of voting age in November!)
For the moment, I am back in the studio teaching a spring session of classes with my students and deep into prepping and planning to get back on the trail for Road Trip #2! Beginning April 23rd I will be visiting Zion, the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Channel Islands, Giant Sequoia, King's Canyon, Yosemite, and more! Thank you to all who have contributed to this project so far, many of whom I'm sure are following along and reading this post. I truly could not do this work without the support of individuals willing to put both faith in me and dollars behind this cause. If you get a chance, go onto the PFP Patron Partner page to see all the names of the generous people who have contributed thus far. I am still in need of raising a minimum of $3700 between now and April 23rd, so if you are able and motivated by the work I am doing, please consider a donation and being a PFP Patron Partner using the link below.
Special thanks to John, Camila, Perrin, and everyone at TASIS England for this opportunity!