My present project, [THIS] Place, has three interrelated aspects: 1) ongoing work on a one-acre parcel of land, which includes carving marble and developing a contemplative garden on the site; 2) a book manuscript that has evolved out of eight years of writing about place, identity and community; and 3) drawing and stone work."
1. Site work. In 1998 my longtime companion and I purchased a one-acre parcel of land located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Adjacent to a creek in Jamestown, Colorado, the site was known as Ivydell for many years because of a small wooden sign that hung over the cabin's front door. I have come to identify the site simply as "[THIS] Place." Besides the house, there are four other structures, as well as an underground sanctuary. Here I have planted gardens, created a circumambulation path, and established a stone yard, where I carve words in marble and work on stone sculpture. Perhaps the most direct way to describe my stone work is this: I work at the intersection of the contemplative and the ecological. My contemplative practice includes yoga asana and pranayama, walking and sitting meditation, drawing and stone-carving. My ecological values are strongly linked to what I would term a philosophy of place.
2. Book. Place is an ontological category: it defines us in multitudinous ways. Book of This Place: The Land, Art, and Spirituality explores what this means in 19 short chapters. Based in nine years of research about issues related to the site--issues such as climate and weather, topography and geography, history and natural history--the book also grows out of keeping a detailed visual and written journal about experiences here. The chapters address topics such as antecedents and influences, including traditions of gardens and land art; sacred space; water; virtues such as patience and discipline; hope; impermanence and death; and vocation. While these topics vary greatly, each chapter opens with an “epi-eikon,” a photograph of a stone I carved with pertinent text and which provides a visual point of reference for what follows.
3. Drawings. Presently, I am working on three drawing series. The 108 drawings in Cantos for This Place are small, 11" x 15” each. They may be read as topographical maps and as a visual record of experiences on the site; including constructing a circumambulation path; using that path for contemplative practice; and observing natural phenomena such as flora, fauna, and the various manifestations of water, especially clouds, snow, and ice. Another theme that pervades the Cantos is expressed in four urn forms. The experience of place is a powerful reminder of impermanence, yet being-in-place also provides solace in in the face of suffering, death, and loss. These themes are also explored in a series of larger drawings, up to 38” x 68”, titled Meditations on Impermanence. A third series, Marking Time, includes scrolls and a number of drawings done over periods of time ranging from two weeks to twenty months.
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