I’m back at the Falls of the Ohio and I can always count on finding different conditions or something new in the air…literally. On this trip the willow trees were sending out their white fluffy seeds from their catkins. In the low-lying areas in the sand or against some other barrier, the fluff accumulates into drifts like delicate dry snow. Today the air is filled with this material as the willows express themselves. I got used to seeing ghostly spots cross my vision. Here is an image of where the fluff comes from.
At the river’s edge, more white stuff could be found washing ashore. Unfortunately, this material is not as environmentally friendly as the willow’s product. In several places I encountered thousands of tiny, soft, white, beads and I instantly recognized the source.
The white object on the right is a river-turned chunk of polystyrene. Waves pounding the Styrofoam into the teeth of water born logs and the grinding of the Styrofoam into the sand at the river’s edge “sculpts” this material for me. These mostly biomorphic forms are so hard-won by nature…that I feel a collaborative responsibility to not alter or impose my will upon them so much. By shaping this material into organic shapes I “feel” the environment is curiously attempting to “humanize” the polystyrene by removing its rough edges. Besides, I don’t want to free anymore of these white beads into the world if I can help it. Here is another place I encountered where the freed polystyrene beads have run a muck.
And now, here are a few of the Styrofoam chunks I found this day followed by an image of where I store them until I can make use of them.
In the earliest days of my project, I can recall trying to fill up bags of this stuff for “proper” disposal. It made me feel good that I was doing something environmentally friendly in the process. Unfortunately, there is just too much Styrofoam in the world and places that I had picked up just became littered again with the next bout of high water and flooding. That’s when it occurred to me that I could try to use this as an art making material. If I could make something compelling enough…others might want to try to exercise their own creativity or help me out by taking the artwork home. To some degree, I have been successful at this, but there simply is more garbage than people who care about what happens to it. At this point (soon to be nine years later) I’ve found that my own sense of aesthetics has changed greatly. I’m from the old school that appreciates the narrative of art as it has developed with its various cultures, museums and landmark masterpieces. Now, I feel that if we can’t develop (and soon) a more real sense of what is life-enhancing (namely the condition of the environment)…those other traditions won’t matter much. Of course, there are other aspects of the formal art world that irk me as well and to see Edvard Munch’s fourth version of his “Scream” painting set a new world record into the millions of dollars makes me want to scream too. Money is also a precious resource that should be used for better purposes. Anyway, diatribe aside, here is my latest “mess-terpiece” for your delectation. It continues the story from a recent post . Enter the tire swing.
My little red-capped Styrofigure investigated the tree fort created near my outdoor atelier. He visited his much larger relative who amazingly enough was still standing although his nose had fallen off! It doesn’t look like the people who created this fort have returned recently. Here is a photo from the family album.
After the visit, my newest figure did a little exploration of his own. He came across a perplexing sight that made him scratch his head.
In a tangle of white fishing line was this image of futility. How in the world, did this ball of monofilament snag a comb? This seems the ultimate in entanglement.
Venturing to the water’s edge, my little Styrofigure found another large section of Styrofoam that was now beached. For me, it was all becoming too much of this stuff on this day and my figure expresses this with a gesture of its arms. ”Why do we need even more of this material…is there nothing better for the intended purpose?”
Meanwhile…back in the river, the story continues.