When I think about shells and the sea, farms and alleys don’t generally spring to mind – but today I drew with some shells in the alley behind my house and I thought about the farm. I thought about how the shells are like the rocks I am collecting from the farm. I thought about “place” and “placement” and collecting and carrying places inside and outside ourselves.
s o r t e d
I also thought about a conversation I had with a friend last week about an artist that had some dirt delivered all the way from Korea to use in an installation. We discussed whether or not it was essential to the work that the dirt come from Korea – did it have to be Korean. I have continued to think about it and have concluded that yes – it was essential.
a l l e y
I came to know that it was essential today while sketching with shells I collected on the Kitsap Peninsula this week. First of all, they aren’t just some shells. It took hours of concerted effort to collect the shells. I only wanted the whitest ones and they couldn’t have any chips in them. Then I had to get them home. Today I cleaned them, brushed them with a wire brush and sorted them by size. After all this selecting, sorting and handling and placing, I have come to really know these shells. As I said, these shells aren’t simply Just Shells. I didn’t randomly select them. I hunted for them. These shells are a measure of my time, of where I have been. They say something about my values and aesthetic. These shells tell a story that only they could tell. I feel certain that the Korean artist’s dirt has a similar tale and is thus essential to the work. Yes. It had to come from Korea.