Posted on September 11, 2014
Last weekend I built an apothecary in a cedar grove. I dressed myself in silk and wool, covered my eyes with a mask of branches that limited my vision downward and played the role of a shaman named Dr. Good. “Patients” participated in the process by writing downaches and pains of the heart or mind – spiritual burdens. Once they finished writing, they removed and pocketed a numbered portion of the chit and deposited their identically numbered burden in a jar. They had instructions to return in a few hours to receive a “prescription” and remedy for their heartache. Many people visited me in the grove as the installation was part of the LoFi Festival at Smoke Farm in Arlington, WA. When I started this project last spring, I had no way of knowing how much more connected I would feel to the grove and to so many people who began as, and remain, strangers. I am altered.
In my typical habitat I teach young children, volunteer quite a bit and generally look for opportunities to be helpful. These are my ways of connecting. As a jumping off point for this work, I wondered if I could be useful, if I could deeply connect, by making an offering of time, tokens and undivided attention (if only for a few moments) anonymously with strangers.
I found that I felt profoundly connected to people in the space and to the space itself. Though I could not see outward, I could see light, my writing and feet. I could see that people stood in the space quietly with me even after they had given me their burdens. I could hear everything. I heard how people quickly become silent in the space. I heard slow shifting and breathing. I heard people collecting their prescriptions. I strongly sensed that we were mingling our vulnerabilities and each longing for connectivity while trusting this remarkable place to keep us safe and allow this exchange – this connection.
I was and remain overcome by the candor expressed in the burdens. I hoped participants would bring me heavy woes, I specifically asked for them, but I felt surprised nonetheless by the outpouring. I was also overwhelmed by the sheer number of burdens and the time a considered prescription and remedy required. I originally thought I would make short replies, attach a remedy and quickly move to the next burden. Not the case. In fact, I was able to answer and return less than 50 prescriptions during the time I had at the festival. I actually quit taking burdens for a while with hopes of catching up but it was quickly apparent that I would not be able to. Someone offered the good solution of taking the burdens home and making prescriptions available on my blog. It was an excellent solution as the anonymity (on my side) stays fully intact and that, I believe, was an essential element to the success of this project.
And so, for the next couple days, I will post the remaining burdens and prescriptions. If you were at the festival and hoped for the token remedy to accompany your prescription, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions.
Thank you for visiting and for participating. It was magical.
-Wyly (aka Dr. Good)
Posted on September 25, 2012
Well, I turned around and found fall outside my door. Spring was just here – right here! – fat with time and good light to work on all those upcoming projects. Those “upcoming” summer projects – the classes to create and teach, the school to set up, the house guests to make room for and enjoy, the ton of rocks to felt and arrange, the artist residency to wrap up, the piles of costumes to design and sew, all that stuff – it’s all done. Miraculously done.
Now I am combing through photos taken by friends and fellow artists, Erin Shafkind, Stephen Roxborough, and others, and making selections on what to put into the self-published book that I am making to document this summer’s work. I love this part. The reviewing and remembering. Here are a couple images:
I also love the clean slate – the fresh start. I cleared out the studio and I’m geared up for the next project. Projects. I started work on some mechanical costuming elements that I’ve been carrying around in my mind for a long time. I am also firing up another yearlong project. One day at a time? Maybe. One thing at a time? Impossible.
Thanks for visiting.
Posted on August 20, 2012
This coming Friday morning I am heading to Smoke Farm in Arlington, WA. I will assemble dozens upon dozens of scarlet stones into a snaky sketch on a cobbled jetty. I collected the stones (with tremendous help from Scott Schuldt – thank you!) over three visits this summer. I dragged them home, felted them into their bright, new
merino skins and cannot wait to share them with the Lo-Fi Festival goers this weekend.
For those who have never been to Smoke Farm, it serves many populations, but for my interests I can say that it’s nothing shy of Heaven. It’s my Happy Place. What I love specifically about Smoke Farm is the loafing shed where artists of every medium gather to work, eat, plan, plot and do nothing. I love the gigantic tree house, the tree swing, the meadow, the long stretch of the cold and clear Stillguamish River that flows steadily through. I love the abactors’ hideout, the long galley kitchen, the cabins, the vegetable patch and the fireside conversations/debates. When I spend time at Smoke Farm, I spend good time. Every experience there is a significant deposit in my creative stash.
Lo-Fi is a mostly annual festival held in August on the farm. This will be my second year to be a participating artist. In coming up with a project for this year’s theme, Farm Time, I thought immediately of the rocks that are EVERYWHERE on the farm but particularly of those that make up the rocky beaches and jetties. Rocks are the perfect measure of geologic time, of course, and could say so much about the farm in those terms, but what about the time spent there – life time?
To engage in rock play on the beach is surely one of the most ancient of human pastimes. Standing at any water’s edge, we are profoundly compelled to engage with the rocks. We build with rocks, use them to dig, skip them and listen for the bloops different sizes make in the water. This is quality time. This is Kairos – the kind of time for which I named my piece. Wikipedia says this:
The ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. While the former refers to chronological or sequential time, the latter signifies a time in between, a moment of indeterminate time in which something special happens. What the special something is depends on who is using the word. While chronos is quantitative, kairos has a qualitative nature.
Just by being at the beach (and for me especially at Smoke Farm) and playing with her rocks, challenges get resolved, questions get answers, sadness is released and shifted, triumph is celebrated and humbled. Weariness is deposited and joy springs up. It’s this kind of time I am interested in spending at the farm.
I hope you’ll join us if you can. I’d love to spend some time with you.
Posted on August 2, 2011
Well, the countdown is on. Ten days to installation. There has been a lot of trying this and trying that and abandoning this and altering that. So goes the creative process. I am in full production mode now and so excited to see these critters coming to life.
If you’re in the Seattle area this August, I would love it if you came to one of the festivals to see the dragonflies! The first festival is the Lo-Fi Festival at Smoke Farm in Arlington, WA. It’s a family-friendly, camp-out opportunity to experience TONS of art! There will be music, dance, installations, poetry and loads of other art forms. Smoke Farm is a very special place already, but that Saturday night is also the Perseids meteor shower. That could be a really spectacular thing to share with friends and family among the arts and natural beauty of Smoke Farm. For tix and more info: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/171964.
The following weekend I will have the dragonflies at Nature Consortium’s Arts in Nature Festival – also an amazing place to see arts of all kinds. Details: http://www.naturec.org/arts-in-nature-festival/.
These are not your run-of-the-mill festivals with lots of pressure to consume anything. These are true celebrations of the arts and I sincerely hope to see you at one or both!!
Thanks for visiting : )