Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Creative Druid 

Firstly, an apology to those who've been checking for new posts. Holiday Season, ok?

I've been thinking about Andy Goldsworthy a lot since September 11, 2003. I went with my mother, sister and K. up to Storm King and saw his wall there. It was the anniversary of my father's death (9/11/02, not /01) and it seemed like a nice idea to head upstate and wander the large outdoor sculpture museum as a family. Dad loved museums and he often spoke of going to Storm King, although I never made it there with him.

We wandered the estate and there are many works by famous artists dotted across its acres, but the work that drew me to it was Goldsworthy's Storm King Wall. It may seem strange to those who haven't seen the wall, but I was deeply affected by it. It brought me tremendous joy.

The Storm King wall is quite beautiful; bravely handbuilt with no mortar. It runs down the sloping landscape, zigging and zagging around trees in a way that no real property line wall ever did. It dodges some trees, weaves around others and even, in the case of a few selected members, it encircles them.

suddenly, the wall disappears on an angle into a pond on the property, as if over time, the waters had risen to submerge part of the land. Then, on the other side of the pond, it unexpectedly resurrects itself on a similar angle to the one that enters it and continues off to the property's edge at the road. Captivating.

Having felt the wall so deeply, I purchased a Goldsworthy book called Stone at the museum store. From it I learned more about him. That he creates works that are meant to disappear over time. That he walks the land each day, connecting leaves, remolding icicles with his hands into fantastical shapes, and photographing his temporary collaborations with nature as a way of sharing his work.

I continued to read about Goldsworthy in other resources. I learned that he goes out into the world almost every day, obsessively touching, sculpting, stacking and playing with twigs, bark, grass, and stones to create his fantastical works.

Some of them are shocking in their impact for such simple things: his lying on the road as it begins to rain and then getting up reveals the striking outline of a human on the tarmac. He papers over rocks with a rainbow of wet leaves to better reveal, with the brilliant color palette of fall leaves, the hidden loveliness of their forms.

Recently, a colleague lent me a copy of Rivers and Tides, a documentary about Andy Goldsworthy. And I was struck by what I perceived to be his deep emotional connection to "the land". By his need to touch it daily. To orient his being by fully communing with nature through his work. By his tireless drive to get up before the sun and stay out late trying to build his impossible art as an effort to understand the universe.

Truly, he is a druid. There is hardly a better description for it. He has a metaphysical line from his belly button that connects to something sixteen feet underground and which seems to send magnetic signals about Gaia and its ways. That's what I see when I look at him patiently building solitary rock cairns in human-sized egg shapes. Shapes that would be perfectly well suited to the production design Kubrick's 2001.

And looking and listening to him, I cannot help but be envious. To have such a deep and singular connection to a creative source. To feel compelled to create, as opposed to having to struggle to marshall one's strengths against needless laziness and useless fear of being truly creative - of reaching one's potential. Here I struggle to keep myself writing this blog, of pushing myself to keep the flow of words in the hopes that at some point, I can divert that energy to a focused, conscious, and creative endeavor - a work of fiction? - which will somehow fulfill an inner need which has no name.

In the meantime, whether or not I achieve that goal, Andy Goldsworthy's work - the work of a creative druid - reaches out to something inside me and tugs a mystical cord. I don't know what it means to feel that tug, nor which invisible limb it is connected to. But I feel it.
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