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The working title of this project is Apprenticeship to a Mountain. In Spring 2020, I began the process of writing a rough draft of the text and started the mountain paintings. This grant will allow me to finish the text draft, complete the series of mountain paintings, and layout the book manuscript.
This project, as with most creative work, has been inspired by other artists' work that have come before me. I take inspiration in painting style and subject from Etel Adnan’s book Journey to Mount Tamalpais, which combines written and visual forms. Her gaze at one mountain feels evocative and dedicated. I am also inspired by the work of Vermont writers David Budbill and David Hinton with their exploration of Buddhism and landscape as in Budbill’s Judevine poetry and Hinton’s book Hunger Mountain.
My painting process involves gathering and concocting my own pigments from natural materials from our land. This work is an invocation, a stepping towards a question. After the first marks are made, it moves to a call and response. My role becomes primarily to listen, respond, and record. Allowing my hands to move in the way they are being asked to marks this momentary conjunction. I find these pigments show me how they want to express themselves through marks on the paper, creating an intimate dance with the pieces of life from this land.
The writing process is in direct relationship to the paintings, moving between a description of the process of making pigments, an exploration of my creative process, reflections on an intimate sense of place on this mountain, the influence of Buddhist practice on what it means to be human in a pandemic, through using the archetypal symbol of a mountain.