“Zuster Sweostor Systir”, a companion show to my project from this past spring and summer “Mater Matrix Mother and Medium” , opens on First Thursday, Feb. 4th 2010 at Ohge Ltd. Gallery, Seattle. The show features a film made in collaboration with Ian Lucero, created out of Zoe Scofield and Morgan Henderson’s performance from MMMM, performance artifacts, as well as photographs created in collaboration with Jennifer Zwick, performance photos by Juniper Shuey, as well as paper quilts and objects and photos created in collaboration with Paul Margolis that came out of my continued fascination with the fabricated woods we find around Seattle.
MMMM involved me in highly collaborative relationships with several artists, the Seattle public and, in a very real sense, a small patch of urban forest. This sister show, coming a year after I began roving about hidden patches of forest all over Seattle, is a way to share these collaborations, these fertile offshoots that continued to instigate new work for me long after the very public part of MMMM was completed.
During my six weeks of residency at Camp Long in Seattle, spending long hours crocheting a fabricated river into the trees, I spent a great deal of time in quiet, face pressed to bark, watching ants travel, ducks tend to ducklings and watching small changes take place every day in my pond. A giant Barred Owl watched me, and it all felt very viscerally wild. But in between the quiet was the blast of horns from ships, a low hum of cars on the interstate and the weekly visit of the grounds keep with a leaf blower. This forest, like most in Seattle — save for a few trees in Seward Park, has nothing to do with the deep mystery of the forest that was once here. It is fabricated, tended, groomed, minded, the old pond filled with a hose when it gets too low. An early photograph in the lodge shows the landscape barren, stripped of its organic past. Zoe Scofield, on an early site visit, astutely observed how like a stage set it all was, and we intended to draw that out. The theatricality of the park is like that of a 18th century folly, a ruin, at once referencing a romantic vision of nature as well as the human longing to experience something more sublime. I felt something of that sublime, following that great owl that watched me midday, I went off trail until I stood below it. And when its head glided around so that it could glare at me, warn me, I felt a jolt of instinct or electricity. In the fabricated, tiny forests we tend, there is still buried the pull the human animal has always felt, to go back. As the summer came to ending, and I cut down the river, folded it up, I came back to my site over and over again as the forest turned to fall. With my son, I sifted for skeletal leaves on my hands and knees, just as we had sifted through dead leaves at the bottom of the pond looking for salamander egg sacks, finding the perfect lacy forms like Scandinavian lace discarded after a flood. I wanted to sew the forest together into a blanket, organize it all, to prepare for the winter, the leaves the same color as my hair, everything going red to brown. We found nurse logs feeding Turkey Tail fungus like crocheted ruffles, and orange mushrooms under which we buried a mouse. On our hands and knees, it wasn’t urban recreation, but fairy tale. I collected my hair and Hazel’s hair, had it spun into yarn, and we each took on our roles in a landscape both out of our reach and right there with us, as organic as it is artificial.
A great mention on Pacific Standard
Thursday July 16th, 2009 at 6:30 pm Mater Matrix Mother and Medium will reach its performative culmination with a site-specific performance by Seattle-based and internationally-recognized choreographer/dancer Zoe Scofield, with music for clarinet and megaphone created and performed by musician/composer Morgan Henderson .
Come join in this one-time experience at the Pond at Camp Long in West Seattle, 5200 35th Ave. SW.
The Performance, created by collaboration between myself, Zoe Scofield and Morgan Henderson is a hushed reflection on the subtle dynamics of the Forest embedded in the urban environment, at once organic as it is artificial. All three artists, in our own way, having responded to the quirky overgrown tranquility of Camp Long’s little pond, invite you to sit for a short time in quiet observation of the rhythms of this unusual site, heightening your focus through sound, movement, breath and site-responsive installation.
Mater Matrix Mother and Medium began with the creation of a 200 ft.- long fiber river, created in part through a series of over 30 community events all over Seattle, where I taught anyone willing to learn, how to crochet. I then took the fiber “pools” into the forest of Camp Long and spent nearly six weeks on a ladder crocheting the river into the trees, flowing from 25 feet up in the tree canopy to nearly touching the forest floor.
The River, made up of thousands upon thousands of tiny moments and movements of individual citizens, integrated, linked together and interwoven into the natural environment, will itself embed Zoe Scofield in an exploration of how we ourselves are both literal and metaphoric manifestations of the living essence of water. Our experience of water is both one of ultimate intimacy and also of civic structure. This artwork, a unique blend of community engagement and personal inquiry, site-embedded installation and performance, embodies the ancient human practice of acknowledging our own physicality rooted in the cycles of water and how this forms the very foundation of human community. Water, both mundane and miraculous, mirrors the everyday meeting of strangers and the tiny moments that begin to bond us together.
Please consider bringing a blanket to sit on during the performance but lawn chairs will obstruct others’ view. Come enjoy some tranquility!
This project is part of three temporary public art projects in the Water Calling series, and are commissioned by the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs with Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) 1% for Art funds. The projects reflect SPU’s management of the complete cycle of hydrology for Seattle’s water resources from drinking water through drainage, and Restore Our Waters, the city’s initiative to protect and restore Seattle’s urban waterways.