As we gathered ourselves, to return to life in the valley, a wolf called out.
Often I think. The land is telling me something. I had once been obsessed with a woman’s occupation of reading plants movements- meaning where they move themselves on the land and where they replant themselves.
In practice, the idea of living inside a field of poison ivy seems horrendous, and yet. What I am realizing is, I don’t know what horrendous is. Theoretically plants moved to where they wanted, where they’re needed, where they’re fed. As a culture we have often planted things where we wanted, only to reak havoc on the environment.
In my travels I find myself in a wee cabin on a wee pond in the peculiar state of New Hampshire.
The rains have been torrential. The village has 7 bodies of water and some have been closed due to the rains. So who should arrive in this late summer days, when internal thoughts blossom and brew? The deliciously mysterious world of the mushroom.
Perhaps my disregard for the out house has brought me face to face with more then your average amount of mycelium theatrics or perhaps it’s my desire to walk barefoot and fearing hallucinations via my toes.
Being mushroom conscious takes the surreal to a new level. The first days, I watched, and within hours shapes morphed.
Change is ramped.
If I think through the cycle of attention, in parallel to my own psychosis- I have gone from fear to curiosity to godly respect. And perhaps back to fate.
Hunting mushrooms takes little effort with my iPhone and even less time then boiling an egg in these here parts to collect dozens.
Several years ago I listened obsessively to Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms. By Eugenia Bone
Besides giving me a healthy respect for their peculiar capabilities. The book reinforced how little I could possible know.
Certainly hearing that mushrooms are more similar to animals then they are to plants gives good reason to wonder about their consciousness and motives.
The variety and reasoning for making themselves known when so much of their work is underground. They are the interstitial communicators of the earthly world. Using micro versions to chatter between trees and keeping the gossips happy.
So here in these August days I am watching as heads newly push through leaf layers. Carrying the weight of other’s decomposition on their head.
The game of seeing new ones, is often confused with seeing a reincarnation of the same body. And not stepping on poisonous ones is not helped by the books. The books we gathered to understand what we are looking at only reveals the end of the world from where I am squatting to release my self.
There is comedy. Sweet rocks that bulge through the sand to become mushrooms.
There is color distort with the glistening grey, vibrant yellow and pulsing reds.
All of which, seem to not translate into the camera, seemingly to dull as they sense they are being captured.
Arching stems, willowing stems scattered through, stems that are larger then their heads. Mushrooms breeding mushrooms from their cap. Mushrooms curling their lips, showing their underskirts, revealing their tendrils. All this, and oh yes more.
But I wonder. Are they each their own kingdom or are they each individual members of a greater army?
What is it that they want. Desire. Or need. What is the place of poison in the order of things? How is it that the most solid form can reform into a spherical bloom of webs and then slim with in hours.
We are all many things. I am slime. I am a blossoming orb. I am poison. I am food. I am circling you. I am still thinking while you might think I’m sleeping. I am changing my colors. I am moist and yet indigestible. I am doing work, you can’t imagine, because it is not yours. I am my own kind. I am not known to you even if you can see me. I follow different rules. I have many lives. When you can not see me I am still here. I am one of many. I am many. I am of the earth.
What more could I ask for then a hook already placed on a rope in a tree. The prop captured the two edges- The beginning and the end. The tree’s extension set the stage to watch the in between.
And this, that is inanimate, allowed for my continued voyeurism.
The photograph’s composition considered the bound body. The fabric drew lines for me to consider. Seducing me within an open field, clear light, changing elevation, and a punctuated shadow. From knots, like bound hands, the fabric extended, twisted and breathed, swirled and lifted, stagnated and pulsed. Hope and resistance came and went, opening the door for the other.
What is this thing that I’m doing?
Each day brings a different vision. Wrapping my dearest, so that they can only reflect me. Pushing the disintegrating surface of old fabric against the mercurial reflection of new fabric- the age old battle of the wills. Using surfaces of all kinds to rest upon, assimilate or insult. Pulling me forward, in full sail, my grip pokes holes and stretch marks ripple across as scars from battle. I am turned on again.
The process, side notes, love notes, visual vernacular of where I’m going. The in between forever acts as a vehicle to sustain the work. But today. The bounds hands, the noosed figure in the tree, the ends and the beginnings. It is these that have caught me, and hold me. Until.
Of course it’s Maine. More things from my past have come up in the last week than I can even count. So I walk. I take pictures. My past washes over me. Past me. Behind me. My growth, my places, my scars and my glory. And I’ve kept to the path. By this, I mean the path that walks through the forest that only can be seen with your skin.
Through out my projects I have always traveled with wads of drawing paper or note cards in my bag. Shoved into zip lock bags, I have stacks of imagery around my studio dating back from over a decade ago. And, if I were to unpack those boxes, you know the ones that never get unpacked? They hold papers from throughout my life: wads of Dante’s dogs of hell, ducks, self-portraits, visions out the window from trains, planes, or cars. Processing that which surrounds or the things I saw hours or days or years before. Details parsed out have become side notes, marked with prose and often, even a date.
A moment in between, the far and near together, or just to draw the view... while sitting in traffic, on a bridge in Maine, in a perfect place on a perfect day in the perfect weather in an imperfect situation. Adoration exists.
This show is a kismet celebration of curiosity, and process. Last year when Warren Etheredge and Nancy Dragun founders of the Walla Walla Movie Crush was initiated, they asked for a trophy to celebrate the hard work of their film short directors. A year later, this show is hung, and the award is in process.
When I finally understood crush meant infatuation, and not smooshing grapes in a barrel between your toes, or pulverizing someone’s hopes and dreams... I floated. Thinking about the sweet investigations that the film shorts unfold, I have relooked at my wads, my stacks through the years. The side notes, reconsidered are love notes. Adoration with my surroundings. A romance with life. Little crushes on a page no bigger then my hand.
So here’s the thing, I have a hell of a time doing that which I don’t like. And when Warren Etheredge asked for a trophy, I kinda grimaced. Truth.
I sat with it, and suggested that perhaps he and Nancy consider the medallion. Worn around the neck or as a pin, it could be etched in classical detail by my hand of rough and raw. There was this pause, and Warren explained, he has traditionally inducted his film makers into The Short Order. A Knighthood! Kismet!
Did I mention Warren takes notes on little papers, too? Notes placed in a stack, placed in his pocket, with organization of his own kind? Yeah, I grinned, too.
I have been experimenting with plaster for years and this medallion project was a great excuse to start delving into a new bronze etching project. Yes. These are all a part of the million steps I take before I get to where I am going. Plus, amongst the many crush worthy topics, there are dreamy references to my work with Mylar.
Another topic that holds varied visual reference, as if it were one of Warren’s film short segment topics, is the visual representation of Mylar. Pain and survival. Reflector and container . Adventure and disaster. Ripening and stagnant. And the pursuit of silver as the perfect color continues, or in this case Pallidum.
All this, I am dowsing amongst the surreal and the adorations, the side glances, and the in between. This work is made with all I have ever been all at once. And this, ladies and gentle humans, makes a very different picture.
I walk. As many do.
Here in Maine I have come to find that which I already know- the knots, and roots underfoot, the smell of the wet eart, the dry pines. And yet, I am surrounded by the sense that this is a land I do not know. This is not my earth. This is not my peninsula. Even still, I am thankful. I am here. Smells cross my path and I shutter with first kisses and hot days when I did not want to take another step.
I have returned to the land of dreams.
the edges extend to the fields beyond the sea
Both shows are up, Zeitgeist in Pioneer Square, Seattle till the end of first week in June 2018, and Foundry Vineyards till the end of July 2018.
How do I explain the stake in the ground that each body of world holds within its self.
The power of being alone while maintaining all of my being.
The power of creating my very own magical realism.
What more could I want, but to keep on going! Try and catch me if you can. I would love to talk about these projects and how they are fed by the surreal work I am building for Woodward Canyon. Oh yeah, did I tell you? I am their girl.
Incidentally, I am working on array of wonderful projects
that have a had
crossover kismet love affair,
and its a long time coming.
Willingness, between projects, is what brings form to the dreams. Don’t you think?
In, “A field guide to getting lost” by Rebecca Solnit.
I’ve been plunging into the verbal representation of:
Finding sentences that make me reach for the pencil
that has fallen off the night table,
and I’m rooting around with just my hand-
fearing to look away from the antidote.
Because, in the Blue of Distance part 1, she says
“in which the near and far fold into each other.”
Am I am thinking… oh yeah.
This is where I’m going.
Dowsing for the surreal. Giving sensation formal. Orchestrating the polyphonic self. When the subcutaneous sensation occurs, I know I have shown up.
By being fully present, and documenting where that is.
From each part of my body,
as a mother,
and an educator, all five.
Hearing, seeing, smelling, touching and sensing. All five.
Without my emotions dictating me, I am left with
all I have ever been all at once.
And this, ladies and gentle humans makes a very different picture.
Let me know if you would be interested in learning about my work, with a presentation on my photography, and the fourth dimension. This is where I am going. Are you coming?
Yesterday, I went public with my new work with this image. There is nothing like a shot in the arm from social media to tell you if something is eye catching or not. My hand will be along side Kim Nemeth's latest weavings at Foundry Vineyards, May 4th to July 31. 2018. You coming?
Photographs are a force of all my senses. When successful, the images are every part of myself, present from every period of my life.
Control, and dance and life and death, and real.
And only there then.
Even coffee couldn’t help this morning, while children slept and the husband continued to rage war on the art world. I sat with the thought that any moment is still unknown. I find my self thinking so blankly. So very blankly.
In one moment it is different. And “the it” changes again. And again, and again.
Yesterday, while the world froze and broke and electricity exploded, my News To You artcards sat waiting for the post.
I have about 11 left, out of 85. They should begin to arrive today. If you don’t receive one, please respond with your US postal address. IF you have one, love it, please consider sharing my subscription: augustasparks.com
The way back to center, after a year of so much, is to do what I know, over, and again. Till it is something else. These cards are just that.
To truly enjoy this, and as none of you know what the other holds, the artcards could be posted to Instagram. If they are tagged with @augusta_sparks and #NewsToYou -the images will collect in one place.
Potentially there might be a moment, when you could see a horizon of shapes and constructs.
Take care. Be well. And, thank you for looking.
I would say the website is due for an overhaul. Short of that. I have reopened the link to my photographs. There is a great deal to be seen. With the coming year I will be continuing my work in this vein, with a Photo show slated for 2019. Follow my eyes.
True enough. The forests of Walden, an eccentric home life, and the traditions of large format photography conspired. With motherhood still leaving the gifts of used tissues and multitasking lists in her pockets, Augusta returned to mark making and photography. Her work is influenced by walking, and watching plants interact like her children, lover, friends, and foes. Augusta constructs art to redefine spaces, reflecting where she has been and where she wants to be.
You may have heard, I'm coming to Seattle.
I would like to barter
a set of 6 gorgeous napkin rings and container for them to live in,
for your dinning room table from my latest body of work.
The proposition is in exchange for a home in Seattle, from November 8 -13.
That's a ring per night, plus a sweet 6th to round out the dinner party. I will be in town for NicheOutside's Capitol Hill artist's walk with two projects.
The Napkin Ring Project, and The Moveable Feast.
Much gratitude, if you even consider this. Send me an email if you are interested in artist patronage.
For the last five years, I have donated an idea and used summer hours. I work through 10 six by six squares for Art Walla's fundraiser ArtSquared. Selling about 6 to 9 each year, this feat always shows me what worked and did not, in a furiously fast experience, and without much discussion. I do it for the greater good. Hell, I assume we all do.
It gives an opportunity for the community to buy and live with art. For $36.00 the pieces are really small, and for someone like myself, they look like sticky notes placed on my walls. This is not super attractive, and yet it reminds me that: oh yes- I like this artist. I need to follow their thoughts, and when given a chance, buy a larger more thought out work.
For now, this will do, until then.
So why the violence?
With out a doubt I have a special gift for redefining words. I have lost and won friendships with them. Peculiar as my mind is, I have been interchanging the spellings for Alter and Altar for the last three months. Irony, or not, I do think they are interchangeable. It is my art, so my rules right? I had a response, that I have permission to share, with a history of Altars. Certainly I do like to pick my facts, like any good agnostic would. Which ones do you think I chose to keep and which do you think I'll disregard?
Altars and Apsides
By Steven Woolley.
You sort of asked; it’s all that’s needed to push the starter and get me going. So let’s talk about altars.
Like I said, an altar is almost always something in the form of a table on which sacrifices are made to the gods. A sacrifice is an action done to make something sacred or holy, and thus acceptable to the gods. There may be ancient religions without sacrifices, but I don’t know them. Even Buddhism, which has no clear idea about god, has altars and sacrifices.
Our common idea of a sacrifice is to kill or destroy something of value, hoping it will be acceptable, with the idea that, since it’s no longer is present to us, it’s become present to the gods. If the gods like it, maybe they’ll do something nice in return. After all, what could be ore costly than a life, or something of material value? Surely the gods will be pleased.
The ancient Jewish tradition, from which our western ways of thinking come, is a little different. God, does not need the sacrifice, it’s not a bribe to get God to do something (although a lot of people can’t get that out of their heads). The sacrifice of an animal or first fruits of the harvest was intended to be costly, the best and first of what one had, as a sign of commitment to a relationship with God and obedience to God’s law. God didn’t need to get it. The people needed to give it. Think of it as God’s version of the old rule that you can’t give away kittens, but you can sell sell them. Needless to say, it got corrupted in dozens of ways, all of which are duly recorded in the Hebrew scriptures. The tradition from which we emerged was nothing if not honest about its own shortcomings.
The Jewish temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 c.e. (the Common Era), and Jewish sacrifices ceased, never to be restored. In the meantime, the new Christian faith went in another direction. Each week they gathered for worship and shared a simple meal of bread and wine, which they understood to be both a remembrance of the Last Supper, and a participation in the actual presence of Christ in the bread and wine. It was a sacrifice in which they presented the bread and wine to God who made it into holy food and drink to nourish them for the days ahead. Then they presented themselves, their bodies and souls, to be holy and reasonable sacrifices to God – that is, they presented themselves to be made holy and useful to God. Being human, it doesn’t last. That’s why it was repeated each week. Because the rite was sacrificial, the table at which it was celebrated was an altar.
As the centuries passed the rite became corrupt. Somehow the priest was understood to be repeating Christ’s “sacrifice” on the cross, and the idea of sacrifice drifted back to seeking God’s favorable response for something. For instance, paying a priest to say a quick mass could get your dead loved one out of purgatory a little faster. The more masses, the quicker he or she could get out. Sort of like TSA precheck financed with bribes to the agents, and a great money maker it was.
500 hundred years ago things had become so bad that a German priest named Martin Luther nailed 95 complaints to the door of his small town church, asked for debate, and demanded reform. It didn’t stay local. Thanks to the printing press, it got published and sent around the Holy Roman Empire setting fire to the Reformation. Thirty years later the Church had divided into Protestants and Roman Catholics, and both had reformed their ways. Since then, the Church has continued to divide into various sects and denominations, each with it’s own understanding of what Christianity means, and disagreements about altars and sacrifice.
Most Protestant churches don’t have altars. They don’t even like the word. Many have Lord’s Tables, used occasionally for a form of Holy Communion not considered to be sacrificial in any way. Many others don’t even have that – just a performance space for speakers and musicians. Churches remaining in the Catholic tradition: Roman Catholics, Anglicans (Episcopalians in the U.S.), Lutherans, and some others, do have altars. And they are called that because they remain places of sacrifice, in the old sense of presenting ourselves as holy and reasonable sacrifices to God as we are fed with the holy food and drink of bread and wine in which Christ is truly present.
So, what about your altars. It’s two part answer. First, I love them. Their design invites the viewer into a sacred space where intimacy with God, as they understand God, may happen. Sacred moments like that make the viewer sacred, at least for the moment, and the sacrifice has taken place, no ritual required. Yes, but where’s the altar, the table? In the mind of the viewer. Maybe not so oddly enough, your altars are in the shape of a basilica apse. Here’s the second and last part of this too long note. An apse is the semicircular space behind the altar in a basilica style churchIn Roman times a basilica was something like a town hall or legislative assembly building. The governor would sit on a raised platform in the apse to do whatever Roman governors did. As the early Christian church grew out of house churches and into dedicated buildings, it copied the basilica style as a statement that it is God and not the emperor who sits in judgment, and it is God and not the emperor to whom Christians give their ultimate loyalty. The style is still common today.
So your altars reside in the apsides (that’s the plural I guess) you have created, there for each viewer to discover in her or his own way.
My Anglian tradition is heavily laden with Celtic Christianity ways of thinking, one of which is the idea of thin placesThin places can exist anywhere at anytime, and are places where the boundary is very thin between the holy and the profane, heaven and earth, material and spiritual. The drawings that adorn your altar spaces evoke, for me, the idea of thin places, and invite the possibility that they may become one, at least for a few seconds.
For more of the Country Parson's writings stevenwoolley.com
The mullen was in awe of the mad sexy beast of a tree. Me too.
So I have continued the photography at full force, and what seems to be the linking sensation is - song. Or rather the fear that induces song. The shock to the system has really gotten my childhood repertoire up to the forefront of my mind. "Just a boy and a girl in a little canoe..." shields be from cougars. Whistling random Mozart tunes keeps the rattle snakes away. I only wish the made up opera would make the star thistle pull itself up and be gone.
Why the alter? Is it not the most religious route? For a woman who believes in the sun and the moon and the stars- why this? If Mary Oliver suggests "Attention is the beginning of devotion"- does she not mean, the attention extended to all things great and small.
If art is in relationship to the mind and body, these alters are miniature theaters of process. I am curious about the attention that concave space can create. Innate by design, the moveable feasts offer different things: blinders, reflecting sound, solitary space or that one little thing that I want to show you. A series of alters - In honor of all things great and small.