Back in February, my friend Blythe presented me with an opportunity to jump off a cliff. Not literally of course, but an energetic leap nonetheless. One that would have me jumping back into the studio as a fine artist. At this point I had just made the decision to close Zelma Rose in the spring. The decision was not public yet, but I had started the process of moving my energy from one path to another. I didn’t imagine I would be visiting my artistic studio process for some time. And this felt right, but also made me feel a bit unsettled.
I’ve wrestled with the fine artist in me before. She’s a fucking wolf. She’s demanding. And she has to be. How easily we let these beautifully creative parts of ourselves fall away. I’ve neglected her before and the results are never good. The wolf needs to lead. When she doesn’t, any wholeness, groundedness, satisfaction I feel is false. And I can ride on this falsehood for years. I think we all can.
It was this truth that opened me to trust and receive Blythe's invitation. If what she was proposing felt even a little good, the best response was YES. Maybe she knew more about what was next for me than I did. And that felt exciting. The project was a total joy and it turns out I was right to trust. Blythe envisioned a way of transforming the weaving techniques I’ve spent over a decade refining into something new. Something different. Something deeper.
Working on the pieces for Blythe was a level of flow I am not sure I have ever experienced. There was definitely an expansion. As a listener to JOY and a reader here, you probably know that flow is my drug of choice. My goal is to be there as much as possible. It is the place where my mind and body truly feel connected and I am in full response. There is no chase. No hustle. No plan. The only intention is to listen and be led by the materials. A true connection.
I sat with all this for a few months. Not seeking, but just letting the process settle within me. One late spring afternoon I was working in my cactus garden when a curved branch caught my eye. I remembered when my husband put the branch aside nearly 10 years ago when we moved into our house. He had found it while we were completing some truly glamorous sewer line work before we moved in. It was part of a tryptic of items he found - the branch, a horseshoe and an antler. The branch sat under an old Ginko tree for years. I’m not sure why we saved it. I guess because it had an indescribable beauty. Or something inside of it let us know it wasn’t finished.
I put down my garden tools, picked up the branch, found some wire brushes, steel wool, and fine sand paper and started to listen. I sat for about 2 hours gently smoothing the branch. Removing any dirt from the deep crevices. I submerged the branch in an outdoor sink to remove the dust and dirt. Then let it bake in the sun.
About a week later I received an email from a design community I have long been a part of as Zelma Rose. Join Design was having an open call for an upcoming show based upon the changed relationship we all have with our home and surroundings from the pandemic. I thought that this branch baking in the sun might be part of what feels new and changed. I just didn’t know how. So I sat and listened.
To my surprise what emerged is an entirely new body of work.
Talisman - Photography by Amanda Ringstad