ART FROM THE ROAD: The First Tree I've Ever Made (Jacksonville,NC)
It was a bit frustrating being in Jacksonville NC- a Marine town with nothing to do at all, AND, Brian and Mark were working most days. I stayed productive initially by writing for the novel until midnight most days, and then pounding cheap beer with Brian until 3 or 4 and passing out, and then doing it all over again. I did get a bunch of work done on the novel, and I actually don't mind that sort of life- but after about a week I realized there was something missing in my life- I was feeling unfulfilled.
I decided to stop staring at my computer screen for hours on end, unless I was ACTUALLY writing, and decided to change out of Marks sweatpants, and go walk around outside.
It was a beautiful day out, and there were these wonderfully cute little lizzards running around all over the place. I began to go explore the back of the camper, and ended up just playing around with the nature that I saw, which eventually got me thinking about what kinds of art I could make out of it. The way I approached it reminded me of being a kid, and how much time I spent just goint and "playing" in the woods. The revitalization of that spirit began to inspire me, and as I came across a big dead tree that had fallen, I started to jump around on it, trying to get a nice piece to break off. After propping it up on a rock, and finally jumping onto it with a snap- I had a nice length of wood that I could carve or do SOMETHING with, I just wasn't sure what.
I sat there among nature and just looked at it and thought. Although I have always enjoyed earthworks, and natural installations, and that type of thing- I don't often see new concepts being explored; most of the time it is using elements found in nature, and arranging them in an eye pleasing composition. With that in mind, I began to think of how futile an effort that can seem be in comparison to the authentic beauty of nature. Put another way, nature in itself, is so inspiring that artists most often times use fragments of it as a medium to make something that is "MADE OF NATURE" but is no longer "Natural" or within the context of "Nature."
I thought about it over the next night, and when I approached the sad dead log, I suddenly had an idea. What if I could bring this dead log back to life? although I found a certain beauty in it already, I began to wonder if I could make this a "REAL" tree again. Along with this notion, is also a certain trickery that always appeals to me. The idea that I could "FORGE" a tree, or "FALSIFY" nature, began to intrigue me as a challenge.
I ran back to Marks trailer, and grabbed a pair of scissors, a box of toothpicks, and the fold-up marine standard shovel that he had given me for my trip. The results, are not too bad for my first try, and my limited materials. Although we left Jacksonville before I could really put some touches on that tree that would fool anyone- I am pleased with how far I was able to push it, and will be trying to invent new trees and plants now as I continue my travels.
A really great part about the process, is how meditative and reflective it really is to try and replicate nature in such a literal sense. It is not only a humbling experience, but it gives you a sense of inferiority that is intriguing to use as a challenge against yourself, and is at the same time, an aspect that contributes to the way you appreciate nature that isnt invented by wacky traveling artists such as myself.
the day before I departed from Jacksonville, I was overjoyed when a neighbor came over and asked- as if astounded- if we had a magnolia tree growing on the side of the trailer.