Wilderness - a mirror of Self

Time is present in Iceland. It is in the silence, which contains all of time within itself. Time is transmitted through the Earth, made visible in the accretions and erosions, the tearings and torrents that shape the landscape. Walking along ancient footpaths, deep trodden by Vikings, I experience time flowing through me. These are some of the thoughts and ideas I explore in a series of large drawings made during my 2015 residency in Iceland.  

Jökulhlaup  25" x 38"  Graphite on paper   A Jökulhlaup is a destructive torrent of ice-melt, caused by a sub-glacial volcanic eruption.

Jökulhlaup  25" x 38"  Graphite on paper   A Jökulhlaup is a destructive torrent of ice-melt, caused by a sub-glacial volcanic eruption.

I gaze out into the wilderness of Iceland. My eye traces lines, marks the horizon, establishes scale and distance. I see where the mountain intersects with sea and sky. The lines extend down into the Earth like a cast shadow, and up into the sky like the angle of the sun. They meet in a stable point around which the universe whirls. Landscape mirrors the silence and the space that surrounds me. I follow this line of thought, and go deeper still, to the universe that lies both within and without.

Wilderness is the part of nature that is hidden and terrifying. Every being shares this awe of nature, knowing that it will bring us all to our knees in the end. Icelanders know it, because living at the Northernmost edge of the habitable world brings with it a certain humility.  In the wilderness HIC SVNT LEONES, trolls, outlaws...our very shadows. If landscape can function as a mirror of self, for me it does, then wilderness stands for the parts of myself that are unknown to me. 

Volcanos intersecting underground 25" x 38"  acrylic and graphite on polypropylene

Volcanos intersecting underground 25" x 38"  acrylic and graphite on polypropylene

At the beginning of the 21st century, consciously or unconsciously, we collectively mourn the irretrievable loss of wilderness on our planet.  And not only that; we mourn mass extinctions, loss of habitat, loss of bio-diversity and the effects of global warming.  We need wilderness, both actual and metaphorical, in order to know our frailty and face our mortality.  I believe that this knowledge brings an important sense of perspective to our daily lives.  It informs the choices we make in the day to day - how we spend our time, what we consume, and what we wish to leave behind.

Time hangs in the air, like a ball reaching the top of an arc, and the present disappears into the past. Melancholy billows up out of the silence as we acknowledge the ephemerality of this moment, this life. 

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Side note: I will be exhibiting drawings made during my October 2015 residency in Iceland, as well as woodcuts, at Cerulean Arts Gallery, March 2-26, 2016.  I hope you'll join me and co-exhibitor Roger Chavez for the Opening Reception on March 4, and our Artists' Talk on March 13.  Click through for details.