photo: Randy Powell
All through the Northwest cold weather I worked on this collection of drawings, photos and assemblages about, to, and for the humble river stone. Like most humans they are abundant and self effacing (with a few notable exceptions!) and their beauty can be quite profound when one takes the energy to really look.
Here are some of my “rock people”. You can click on the small images to inspect them more closely.
photo: Randy Powell
Each of the eleven sub-volumes opens in the manner of a stone rolling downhill and contains a part of my poem “Conversation with Stones” on its last page. Each has a photo of a stone behind a screen of cut paper. Each screen reflects something about the four drawings (prismacolor and graphite on black Arches). Each sub-volume is hand bound in a style which someone may have done somewhere before me, but I suspect I made it up.
photo: Randy Powell
Each cover contains a sheet of Mica to look through. Mica is a rock that separates into thin transparent sheets and breaks into sparkly bits. In the research for this project I read that mass burials of local Native Americans from the period of epidemics–brought on by collision with European cultures–are notable for their lack of Mica powder which was sprinkled over individual bodies of the dead in earlier times.
Printed on Asuka paper using an Epson Stylus Pro 9900 and Ultrachrome inks.
The book cloth is an artist-made layering of a loose weave linen on Arches Black (IIYEEEEE! Hair pulling time!)
Special thanks to Randy Powell — artist, neighbor and a fellow graduate of School of the Art Institute of Chicago — for help with the documentation of this project.
Text of the poem, a slightly condensed version of the poem used in a previous artist book.
you are both the memory of a brook and
a message from the stellar stream.
the life of mountains,
firm, solid air,
you are resistant to authorization.
as unquestionable as wild apples,
as verifiable as the mocking bird,
as indisputable as the moon,
you are undeniably obscure.
You are a history of torrents substantiated by passion,
you are the intent of small nows.
I am heavily seeking your eyes in my dreams.
You are adamantine laughter,
the strong, stony scent of earth
and the unyielding hooves of dreams.
You are a formidable condensation of lizards, grim swallows,
and difficulties of praise.
You are the austerity of stubborn of distance.
the solidified lives of dragonflies,
a density of stars,
compressed stirrings of fury.
you are heavily verified
a painfully proven crusher of ships.
inflexible dust and impenetrable musings.
You are thunder from the sierra,
the clatter of the daily grind and the hiss of gradual loss.
Joy … and pain,
you are the waterfall and the river bed,
and the record of a marriage.
You need not speak of past difficulties. They are written on you.
Your language is long and slow. It takes two rocks and a river to say “clack”.
Your language is communal and patient. It takes many rocks and an ocean to say “clatter…hiss”.
I am an impediment to your sequence.
You have journeyed from the center of the earth.
YOU are between the rock and the hard place.
You are all that is durable of dreams.
You are worn out, rounded energy,
You are the crumpler of ecclesiastics
and the one who grinds away the fiction of time.
the sermon of abrasion,
the exhaustion of permissions,
and the diminishment of uniforms.
You say to me,
“I used to be a boulder but now I am a color singing in the river.”
I am the survivor stone,
You say, “The rock that was rejected by the builder has become the cornerstone.”
You sing how
you once destroyed a monster with a loaf of your bread,
and how you fed a village with a bowl of your soup.
You teach me how to prop open a door.
Music of the commune, you are the cloister stone – river stones and water.
You are a lessening of mountains,
the moments and the ruins of a search.
You cause the loss of rough edges.
“Noli te bastardes carborundorum” say the young. “It has happened” say the rest.
Heavily verified and
you are a labor of lessening and profoundly wild.
You are the history of friction,
a cascade of attrition,
an abrasion of assurities.
You are the dwindling of certitudes,
the decrease of truisms.
You are the geography of erosion.
You grind down the hard nut.
Wear it down.
Wear it away.
You weather the choices.
You are a distillation of lessons
and a tutor to endurance.
You are the bones of the ridge.
There are two old stones in the shallows. Together they watch over the new generation of salmon.
Return to the universe.