I consider myself an artist grounded by the earth, in the land; feet planted while I walk, senses heightened and amplified by nature. Thus my work, reflecting that profound connection. The skies, always above me.
This past fall and winter, I had opportunities to visit eastern Oregon and specifically the Great Basin region around Summer Lake. I was held by the expansive land but also mesmerized by the dark, vibrant night sky colors: velvety bluish-blacks, luminous purples, combined with paintbrush sweeps of sparkling glitter, splashed from edge to edge. The depth of those skies helped me to dream and wonder.
I had hoped to return again later in the winter to the Great Basin and deepen my work into the sky landscape. However, with all of our lives turned upside down as the result of COVID-19, that became impossible. Instead, I sat in my backyard, bundled in my down jacket, looking up as I contemplated the moment. I considered my options: abandon the initial dark sky encounters or continue pulling back the curtain from my current vantage point. I am fortunate to live in an area that is surrounded by open spaces and holds some darkness as a result of less light pollution. Even though my backyard sky pales in comparison to what I witnessed in the Great Basin, I moved skyward, letting my emotions drift in and out of the vats of inky colors, using my earlier encounters as a foundation for the work.
We are invaded by light. Artificial light overpowers the darkness. Losing the dark of night threatens all things on the earth as the overuse of light disrupts plants, animals, even our sleep rhythms. With those additional thoughts, I embarked on Dark Sky Rhythm. This body of work explores seeing the dark skies as a way to value our physical, mental, spiritual health. So many times in our western culture, we turn away from darkness; we literally turn the light on to make ourselves feel more comfortable. So during this time of great vulnerability I asked myself questions, some of which Paul Bogard mentions in his writings about light pollution. How can I not divide life into seeing things as good (light) and dark (bad)? How can I reach deeper into the darkness to connect to life and just maybe, feel safer with the lights off? How can I use both the brightness of natural daylight and the darkness of night to be as healthy as possible?
Particularly now, as we face so many challenges for healing and unity in our country, this breathtaking, profoundly wild dark sky provides us a connection to all life; if only we can head out into the darkness.