Herewith, the statement for my show "Stay Awhile" at Fountainhead Gallery. The Artist Reception is tonight from 5 to 7; if you can't make it tonight, I am giving an artist talk next Sunday, October 9th, at 3:00 pm; the show will be on display until October 29th.
“Stay awhile” is what the trees said to poet Mary Oliver in “When I Am Among the Trees,” as she endeavored to “walk slowly, and bow often.” Oliver’s humble reverence for nature derives from quiet moments on ordinary walks. It is experienced and expressed on a deeply personal level in spare, precise language. Her ability to discern and convey nature’s lessons is profound: Be present, be humble, be grateful. And be aware of your mortality.
Her words are a gentle nudge, inspiring me to be more alive and perceptive. And that sensitivity is what informs the work here. The Marsh Songs series, which makes up the bulk of this show, was inspired by a winter walk with a friend through the Magnuson Park. It was one of those dreamy, fog-laden mornings when the sun was just beginning to glow through the dense air. The wispy trees, glassy water and dramatic atmosphere sang in chorus, soto vocce.
“I’m sorry,” I said to my friend as I pulled out my camera. “We won’t be getting much vigorous exercise today.” An hour and a half and 172 photos later, the mist still hung in in the air, and I knew I had enough imagery to captivate me for months.
Back in the studio, I applied the poet’s lessons. Recall the moment: the cool, moist air, the mist rising off the wetlands, bending the light and silhouetting delicate saplings. Edit and distill the cacophony to the simplest expression of that moment. Paint mindfully, re-evaluating with each stroke: Is the color, the value, the shape and placement bringing me closer to the essence of that experience? Be discerning, like Mary.
The next part of the creative act is up to you, for how you receive and respond to the work on these walls is just as individual and personal and meaningful as my creation of it. What does it recall for you? Where does it take you? What narrative evolves in your mind?
Oliver’s words will always be a deep well for me, a handbook for creating and living fully: “My work is loving the world … mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.”
Christine Gedye, October 2016
When I Am Among the Trees
By Mary Oliver
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."