September 6—October 27, 2016
Friday, September 16th— 4:30-6pm
Thursday, September 29— 4-6pm
(stillness) is a work of performance art centered around the reversing falls in Sheepscot Village. It was shot from five cameras which have been synched, and exist in this show as a video installation. Organizer Susan Bickford invited 10 artists to retreat for 3 days to experience the stillness at the falls, drop into it and respond. The result is a deep ecological approach to art making, interdisciplinary, collaborative, and improvisational. “It is breathtaking to experience these seasoned artists perform in this natural context where they have come into rhythm with their surroundings.” The river, fish, birds, wind, rocks, seaweed, sky, sun + moon are the primary actors and lead the dancers, musicians + visual artists in their making process. You can see a 5 minute short of our exploration at: https://vimeo.com/170058014
Stillness at the Reversing Falls:
When the tide is low, the river flows over a five foot falls which creates a tremendous turbulence. The noise is deafening. Two hours after low tide, the river flows in both directions, these forces meet at the falls. At this point, the noise of the rushing water at the falls begins to diminish gradually. Within thirty-eight minutes the water from the rising tide and the downward rushing river equalize. For a period of about five minutes there is complete stillness. This is the moment that calls these artists to come together, come closer and respond.
I come from seven generations of family living and working in the State of Maine. I believe that making work about our connection to the environment is the most profound thing I can do as an artist. I feel a deep sense of well being when I turn my attention toward the natural world. It is my intention to utilize my art practice to bring the public awareness back to that sense of belonging. My message is very simple; "We are a part of this".
There is much scientific evidence of the dramatic effect human activities are having on the environment; extinctions, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, rising co2 in the atmosphere, climate instability. Unless we accept our part in the web of life on this planet, we will not survive. My work does not directly focus on these problems but instead it seeks to present an opportunity for meditative reflection within the environment. We are not as connected to the river as we once were, when we depended upon it for transportation and fished within its waters for our food. My work strives to revitalize that connection. I want to share my love for the natural world and provide a beautiful excuse for others to have a meaningful experience in nature. The logic here is if we connect to it, love it, feel ourselves as a part of it, we will protect it.
“When one tugs at a single small thing in nature, he finds the whole universe attached.”- John Muir
On retreat style making: I often work in collaboration in which I set up a situation and invite participants to improvise within that arena. Since 2001 I have set up installations in galleries, in theaters, in my BackYard, and most recently in the the Sheepscot river. I think of my practice as forming a vessel of collaborative attention which fosters emerging relationships. Part of my work as an artist is as an “organizer of experience”, within which the work is produced. I have practiced this kind of making for 15 years. There is a loose parameter of expectation combined with an openness which invites new possibilities. In the instance of the (stillness) project, we come together in retreat for three days, we experience the natural realm, we sit with each other in council, we eat, we create. We listen to the concert of the ongoing natural environment and “drop into it as though we were musicians dropping into a jam session. We write, draw, reflect, share our reflections, make adjustments and do it again. It is a very intentional frame around informed and practiced play. This kind of collaborative focus is rare and invigorating, it invites improvisation and produces innovation. Our efforts are scaled as a result of coming together. We grow, we share our exploration with others. I hope to involve the public and develop a sense of belonging and appreciation toward a lifelong desire for conservation.
The Danforth Gallery is located in Jewett Hall. Gallery hours are Monday - Thursday 9:30am - 5:00 pm, Fridays 9:30am - 2:00pm.