OF WATER SACRED
Maenam 13, from the maenam Series, 2012
I sold my home and studio in the United States almost twenty years ago leaving on a quest to find something more meaningful for myself in what I do as an artist. Perhaps it was a bit foolish to give up my home and studio, my large etching press, my collection of art and books, my garden, to leave so many friends. I never felt, however, as if I traded one culture, one home, one set of friends, for something else; I just expanded the circumference of my life. I’m happy with that.
Five years ago I began the MAENAM Project, a series of photographs documenting the river that runs in front of my home in Northern Thailand. The images along with poems by eight American poets became a limited-edition entitled MAENAM, Of Water, Of Light, published by Marrowstone Press in 2014.
Raft, from The Dream Sea, 2015
The MAENAM series evolved from ‘WATER and EARTH,’ an earlier group of photographs of the surrounding valley during the rainy.
After MAENAM, Of Water, Of Light, came ‘The Dream Sea Series,’ arriving completely from manipulation and imagination. For these, I built a small water set in which my visual narrative drew upon mythic relationships of birth and rebirth, of death and transformation.
When I’d finished I began to take it apart; it was only about six feet wide, ten feet long and 8 inches deep. I was irresistibly pulled into the process of its destruction. Images of sharp juxtaposition, patterns of darkness and light called out. I reached for my camera, and by the end of the day, ‘the Dismantlement Series’ was born.
When Love Is Torn, The Dismantlement Series, 2016
For me, water has always been sacred. But why?
Is what we hold sacred something we ordain? Or does it, can it, exist without our determination? Both, I suspect.
Water replenishes our body; it brings us food and grows our crops. It nurtured us into existence through some remarkable chemical and mineral happenstance billions of years ago. Our thoughts, directives, memories, hopes and dreams, our potential, and procreative urges are held in water, activated in water. Our children are conceived and grow in small, quiet seas. Our blood is water.
We know what it means when water disappears. We die.
Yet we look to the unknown for help, for someone or something we believe is greater, someone we believe will protect us. We give them control over our destiny. We now call them sacred. We make them holy while we desecrate what is here and now before us, what is essential and what is sacred—food, water, and light.
Sleeping Stone, Breathing Start, The Dream Sea