In December 2017, my inimitable mother decided to spend the winter in the Pacific Northwest. She wanted a navigator to help her drive There and Back Again across this glorious country. What happened in between-and since- was legendary… and birthed the seed that has been growing into Pictures, Parks and Promises.
Pictures, Parks and Promises will be a series of exploratory artworks in media and techniques as varied as the wilderness they depict. I am exploring ideas of environment, stewardship and ownership in the context of our national parks, public and protected lands. I am creating a body of artworks in various media, exploring new studio techniques and further developing my artistic voice. I will dialogue with the public throughout the process in my blog, and catalogue the environmental and artistic journey in an ebook and a printed premium softcover art journal. Through an upcoming Kickstarter project, I will offer my community a medley of ways to participate, from ways they can evoke change in their own communities to co-creating unique works of art. My goal is to inspire inspiration, conversation, education and activism through artistic expression.
Art, outreach, education and change! My newly created body of artwork will invite and inspire my supporters to get to know our public lands and resources for themselves, and familiarize them with processes and procedures that allow individual involvement in enjoyment and stewardship. Perhaps they will journey to experience the parks for themselves. Perhaps they will realize how much is close to home, and how many different ways there are to achieve protection. Perhaps they will be inspired to a new level of personal activism. Perhaps they will spread awareness of both the parks and myriad awesome ways to enjoy them, such as the “Every Kid in a Park” program. Perhaps they will ask more and deeper questions, or create their own art and outcry, continuing the journey. While I am creating a body of artwork, the goal is not to just hang it on a wall. I will also be spreading the images and their message of engagement and stewardship through the printed publications, in person and online outreach. My goal is to bring my art to a public that may not ever step foot inside a museum, but who lives in the world I’m striving to protect.
Last December, my 70-something year-old mother and I drove across the country. Our goal was to get her car to the west coast. Our REAL goal was to explore as many national parks and public lands as we could along the way without getting stuck in a blizzard! As we meandered through the breathtaking scenery of Escalante, we noticed news crews dotting the roadside. The sales clerk at the convenience store confirmed that they were exploring the community response to the announcement greatly diminishing the Grand Staircase National Monument. While I was saddened it was losing what I saw as protection, locals felt it was reverting back to their use after what they saw as a federal land grab.
Pictures, Parks and Promises was born in that moment. It was no longer enough for me to experience the land in its glory and nuance. I now needed to understand the different perspectives and policies and share the conversation with as many people as possible. Through art, I hope to inspire an army to speak out for the good of the silent land.
Once home, we learned a highly polluting plant had been snuck through the approval process and was slated to be built just a few miles down the road. Pictures, Parks and Promises was backburnered as I launched into feet-on-the-ground activism. A concerned citizens group swelled into over 10,000 members fighting with me. My painting, “#notoxicRockwool” was selected into the Eastern West Virginia Juried Art show, and chosen to become T-shirts and other “swag” to support the non-profit organization, Jefferson County Vision. The announcement that a fracked gas pipeline was seeking exemption to go under the Potomac River and through National Park Service lands brought my thinking full circle. I realized my Parks Project was not backburnered, but had pivoted to highlight my own backyard, adding a deeply personal dimension. The scope of the project expanded, even as it zoomed in close. Threats against our public lands, natural resources, and very air and water are occurring in every state throughout the nation and art has a longstanding history of protest, education and activism.
My mother announced her intent to sell her RV. As a workaholic, I’ve taken the time to “camp” in it just once: chasing the total eclipse in the Cherokee National Forest (more public lands, more complicated themes, more awe of the world we live in!) I saw this as my last (affordable) chance to live a childhood dream of seeing the Chincoteague Pony Swim, spawned from that first of many readings of “Misty of Chincoteague” as a horse-crazy little girl. Assateague Island is all public land, sharing residence with both Maryland and Virginia, and managed by multiple state and federal agencies. The radically different approaches to herd management on the opposite ends of the island are a microcosm of the huge wild horse dilemma playing out on a vast scale in America’s west. Thus, timing and circumstance shaped this chapter of the story, which forms the official launch.
The thousands of pictures I have taken on public lands are a huge reservoir of reference material. Indeed, many photos themselves have been accepted into nationally juried exhibitions and won awards, and my semi-abstract Parks photography earned acceptance into the Emerging Artist program at the 2019 Gasparilla Festival of the Arts. My photos, memories and research are bouncing-off points to explore different artistic media, while educating my audience to the threats to our protected lands, and inspiring them to take action. In exploring means of funding and increasing the reach, I decided on Kickstarter, which then sent me down the rabbit hole of researching and creating inspiring rewards and the logistics behind fulfillment. I continually explore, transform, and share my technique and vision with you, my collectors, fans and supporters
I continue to pour blood, sweat, tears, precious time and cold hard cash into Pictures, Parks, and Promises, but I can’t do it alone!
I’m thrilled to have already earned a Puffin Foundation grant! I continue to seek organizations whose mission matches my vision.
In exploring additional means of funding and increasing the reach, I decided on Kickstarter, which then sent me down the rabbit hole of researching and creating inspiring rewards and the logistics behind fulfillment. I love Kickstarter for the relationship it creates between supporters and artists, and for the freedom it allows in awards for backers. There is something for everyone! Look for our inaugural Kickstarter launch in August 2019, exploring the wild Assateague ponies (How many of us read “Misty of Chincoteague” as kids?)
My photographs and original artwork are also, or course, available. Browse the gallery pages to discover what speaks to your soul, or contact me to start a conversation leading to your own personally commissioned work.
All my heartfelt thanks for your interest and support! Art is not simply a statement, but a conversation!