Piece description from the artist
An early winter afternoon hiking the forest in the Green Mountains you will come across these ancient walls. Here we have the low winter sun raking the hillside. These walls were built 200 years ago using oxen and stoneboats. They were a way to use all of the stone left in the soil after the glaciers retreated. All of Vermont was agricultural in the past so there are thousands of miles of walls across the landscape. If you dig or plow the soil here you can’t help but unearth field stone. The easiest thing for the farmers to do was build walls with all the stone both to delineate property lines and fields and keep in animals.
These walls lend a sense of time and history to the landscape. Since Vermont has substantially reforested over the last century most of the walls are in deep forest now. The juxtaposition of the wildness of the forest with the hand-wrought aspect of these ancient walls I find moving. They show the temporality of our existence on the land.
I have a painter friend that, when he goes out painting, says “I’m going to steal some landscape”. An ironic take on the idea of making the image your own. Have you ever heard that in some cultures there is the belief that representations or photos actually steal the soul from the subject? Sounds pretty far out there? Somewhat crazy in this modern age? Have you ever wondered where this belief comes from?
The idea that a representation of something actually contains the Spirit or Soul (at least in some degree) of the subject is wide-spread. Even to the point that some religions will not allow images of God for fear that the congregation will worship the image and not the God. Other religions encourage depictions of the Spirit or God for precisely the opposite reason, to have the viewers feel a sense of Holiness. This is what an icon is. A representation of God that is transparent enough, metaphorically speaking, that the viewer feels a sense of the Spirit in it.
Does it work? Have you ever stood in front of great religious art or architecture and felt the sense of the Spirit? Been moved by it? Have you ever been out in Nature and felt the same Spirit… That of God in Nature?
This is what I am feeling when I paint nature.