Thursday, November 7, 2013

There are many things I love about living where I do- the ethnic and cultural diversity, having access to world-class art and music, the uninhibited turbulence of the city- yet one thing that I really miss about Colorado are the seasons. Of course seasons change here, but the shifts are subtle and only begin to be noticeable once you've lived here for a year or two. In Colorado, seasons can change in a day! Trees still laden with red and yellow leaves can buckle and break underneath a sudden and unexpected snowfall of several inches or even several feet. Each season is marked by what can feel like a completely different climate- compare an arid 100 degree day in late July to a frigid blizzard in the middle of January. In fall, all green plants die and give way to the utter stillness and silence of winter, and in spring, the forests and hills explode in nubile verdancy.

Here in the Bay Area, however, flowers bloom year round, and the numerous farmer's markets have a bounty of produce even in the middle of winter. I recently planted baby shoots of kale and chard in my garden beds- this late in the season! It's true that sometimes it's chilly here; the skies do darken and rain, but the fog always seems to give way to a balmy sunshine before too long.

I get particularly nostalgic around this time of year for Colorado and its clearly demarcated seasons that provided a steady beat to the background of my life for the first 26 years. I miss the cold, crisp air of autumn and the quiet stillness of the forests in the snow. I have images of the bare skeletons of trees flash into my mind when I'm falling asleep, and when I look out my window in the morning, I feel a little surprised to see green leaves still on the trees.

Without realizing it at the time, I think that this homesick longing for my old friend autumn inspired my latest drawing, titled "Harvest Fox." I created it for a show at Studio Gallery called "Tiny," which opened last week in San Francisco. All of the pieces in the show are 7x7 inches or less- you can see many of the pieces from the show, here.

I usually don't intentionally plant symbology into my work, rather, the latent meaning of it appears to me as it's developing or often once it's complete. That was the case with this miniature drawing, in which a fox skull rests on a bed of greenery. The birds, frogs, and snake that frame the dead fox were animals it once preyed on while it was living, and now they form a bower beneath which it rests. The circle that is created by these elements of design gives a nod to the cyclical nature of existence, which arises and then passes away, arises and passes away. A creature of the woods needs no grave more ornate than the soft forest floor, adorned with leaves and flowers, where it can return to the earth once more.  

Beginning phase of line work
In progress...
The finished piece- an offering of impermanence.

After having lived here in California for over two years, I'm starting to attune myself to the small harbingers of autumn here- the yellowing of leaves on certain trees, the crisper breeze coming off the bay, the wispy high clouds stretched across the sky in the early morning. Perhaps one of the most powerful gifts of the changing seasons is to remind us of the reality of impermanence. What a fragile and brief life ours is; how quickly everything changes. As the days of autumn fall away one by one into the coming winter, I feel thankful to have lived through another cycle of the year, thankful to be doing what I love, thankful to share this earth. 

“I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.”

― Dawna Markova

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