Sunday, January 30, 2022

With a Little Help from my Friends

My Production Blog: It's the Little Things That Unite Us

As I embark on what I consider the most ambitious project of my career, I am sending a query to a few artist colleagues whose work has inspired me over the years. It has been an exciting process to identify a progression of tasks on the way to clarifying a vision, script and storyboards. I am pulling out all the stops and getting guidance where I can find it and hopefully that means with a little help from my friends.

I am good about asking for what I want….and hope my friends will indulge me. I realized that perhaps I could answer my own questions, partially to give my friends an idea of what I was fishing for and see what happens.  I was amazed, it was a great revelation to explore these ideas purely as a visual artist, not as a media maker researching a project. 

This is how I answered my questions.

Question 1:

How do you see/experience the connection of all life on earth?

I “feel” it as I honor my intuitive self. I have heard this idea of connection elaborated for most of my life. I read Lao Tzu every day and he speaks of the Oneness of Things.

Question 2:

Can you think of examples of artwork that successfully communicate the connection of all life?

This was the big surprise for me, I didn't anticipate how quickly the answer to this question would come to me. If I were to identify a body of work, it would be a Chinese landscape scrolls, like the ones I first encountered at my beloved Freer Museum in Washington, DC. The images are expansive but fluid, peaceful and all encompassing. They tell stories with many moving parts but one cohesive vision.

This scroll, found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is a good example of what I find so compelling about Chinese scrolls. Reproductions fall short but hopefully this will bring images to mind you have seen in person.

Summer Mountains, 1050 AD, Attributed to Qu Ding Chinese

Detail, Summer Mountains, 1050 AD, Attributd to Qu Ding, Chinese

Question 3:

Have you created artwork that specifically addresses the issue of the connection of all life?

I have. My Stone Circle drawings, a series of mandala-like drawings that had their genesis in the 70’s speaks to this idea. I was inspired by sacred geometry, introduced to me through Islamic art and Buddhist mandalas. The circle is inclusive and represent the Oneness of things. The stones are a connection to remote and distance places in time and space. The flora and fauna were objects that captured my attention when the drawing was being made. This is intuitive and not to be explained.

Stone Circle 2, 48" x 52", mixed media on paper.

Since that series was completed, I make work that encourages careful observation of the natural world through the objects I find most beautiful and compelling. This has been done with individual images, not in relationship as they are in the Stone Circle drawings.

Right now, I am particuarly fascinated by the genius of leaves. Mother Nature's solar energy power houses whose second act is as a nutrients for new life. Mother Nature wastes nothing..and that's genius.

Sycamore Leaves, 22"x30", mixed media on paper


I look forward to sharing with you what I learn from my friends and colleagues.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

It's the Little Things that Unite Us

Best wishes for a Happy, Healthy, Productive 2022. If you were like me, this holiday season had its ups and downs. I was happy to have family visiting and saddened by the consequences of the pandemic. 

The good news is that taking a break often brings insight and inspiration. I am reaping those rewards now.  I have challenged myself to create an animated short that demonstrates James Lovelock’s Gaia Theory that all life on Earth is connected. I want to tell this animated story by weaving together natural objects from my neighborhood in Brooklyn with the principles of the Gaia Theory. Where do I start?

I wanted to bring in my childhood on an old farm in Virginia, my life here with my grandson as we explore the local flora and fauna and the seasonal changes as reflected in an urban environment.   Wow, overload. My vision was so expansive, I was just stymied as to how to proceed. 

English Oak, mixed media on paper, 18"x24", 2021

My latest inspiration has come from the fine art work I have been doing over the holidays. I was very happy to share evenings with my son and sister. I was frequently drawing while we were visiting. Fortunately my sister was interested in the process and didn’t complain!

Collected treasures taped on my studio wall

Just a little background. I take a walk everyday. Since the beginning of fall, I have been compelled each day to pick up some natural treasure along the way. These have most frequently been leaves. They were taped on my studio wall to admire. When I decided to change my fine art focus from collage back to mixed media botanical drawings on paper, the leaves on the wall were center stage. Here are a few of the drawings from the holidays.

Leaves: Tree of Heaven, mixed media on paper, 18"x24", 2021

Leaves: European Beech, mixed media on paper, 18"x24"

How have these drawings inspired me and provided a foundation for my script and storyboards for this animation? Focusing on the tiniest of aspects of the natural world, as I am currently doing in my drawings, intrigues me. I feel like they are crumbs that leave a trail to be followed that “demonstrates” the connection of all life. The more diverse these small object crumbs, the more interesting the story/animation will be. My research continues with James Lovelock’s book, Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. His writing is so engaging and accessible.

Pin Oak Acorns, mixed media on paper, 18"x24", 2022

Have you seen art/media that you feel successfully demonstrates this very narrow and simultaneously very wide view of the connection of all life? 

Thank you for your interest in my work and joining me on this journey. Your thoughts and feedback are always important to me. 

Follow me on Instagram @kristinharrisdesign and @anim8nature or Facebook at  kristin.r.harris.5

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