A coastal collection
Being the eccentric in the room, I do not have a cell phone, I don't know how to text, the computer connections are iffy at best at chez Shannon, and I don't have an ATM card. I still write letters and send with stamps, and have the last of the touch tone landline phone.
I have been a self-taught working artist for well over 30 years, my work is inspired and based on various plant and reclaimed materials collected from nature including grasses, bark, and roots, to coastal collections from the Pacific Ocean such as different kinds of sea kelps, ocean debris, fish bones, rocks, and other flotsam and jetsom. I'm interested in anything that can be reconstructed with cold connections, stitching, or various basketry styled skills. I am always open to spending hours or days making techiques up that work, and I have never used glue. The designs of my work are created from the narrative of the chosen materials.
I absorb the materials mythologies from their locations of collection. I'm wide open to their dialog and to reinventing the wheel of construction techiques to fit their story into the design. Unlike buying materials from an art store or supplier with a grab and go start, using nature, repurposed, or found objects can be a mind tweak. I just listen and observe the direction we are going to take together. As weird as others have found my connection to the objects and materials I encounter and work with, it always seems pretty normal to me, these connections have formed strong bonds since childhood.
Beyond the collecting, I also work outside in all kinds of Oregon weather. I do retreat to the small studio space I have when the weather is a detriment to myself or scuplture I am working on. If I feel that the space is too small, I start an overflow into my house. Though my family is not real interested in showering with a pile of kelp in the bathtub, I try to inform them of the beneficial health effects of the free organic spa treatment I am providing. No one buys in. My husband can get a bit frustrated when every flat surface is covered in rocks, pods, and sticks. Even my dog is confused on what is his and what is mine. I am known to fill our house with Beaver chew sticks I have collected from numerous bodies of water from around Oregon. Rivers, ponds, and even a deep ditch due to the unlimited sources of water where I'm located. I then stand the sticks up lining the walls, or loosely stack them hobbled together on racks as I leave them to dry out and cure. I have had as many as 200 standing along the walls at any one time in the Fall when the Beavers are the most active in putting their dams together or stocking their food source for the winter. This process of letting them dry out leaves a coating of wet fog on our windows as if I had left a pot of noddles boiling for a month or more. Just the raw sticks themselves are known to attack attention, I have returned to my car while out running errands to find people waiting for me asking what is that pile in your car?
I have had the advantage of living very remote, on the ocean, and on a river when I started my work and currently live in a smaller rural town. The natural resources that I work with are at hands reach. I have to drive a little bit for kelp and ocean debris, but not far. Some of the basic things that I use and don't collect is paper, waxed linen thread, some embellishment materials like beads but everything else is collected, harvested, changed by me using studio pit fires, which I also like to work beside, marking materials by pounding them stones or to dragging rusted nails across surfaces. The embellishment elements of my work are mostly from repurposing left over material by cutting it into smaller pieces that are either stitched, woven, or embedded into surfaces. I also make my own wax medium by collecting wax from a local bee farmer and buy damar to cook this mix. I do this because I like my wax medium to be harder when cured to surfaces of the objects I create.
Currently I'm experimenting with some marsh paper I peeled from the ground. This is a mixture of various fallen leaves, small sticks, marsh grasses, and cat tails with mud that settles on the bottom of marsh when the weather warms and dries up the water. It has a rust gray- greenish appearance with some skeletal remains of grass and leafs embedded on the surface. It has all the characteristics of handmade paper and it is fairly easy to lift up with your fingers off the ground in sheets, I was lucky enough to harvest a couple 16" by 9" sheets, however the rest was to dry to the ground to lift without damage. I started applying it as a skin layer on a woven boat frame I started last fall, it's too soon to tell if this was an effective plan. In the meantime I'm distracting myself by peeling bark off a fallen tree I found by the lake that I plan to stitch onto another boat.