Monday, September 8, 2008

Late Summer on Miller Mountain

The hummingbirds have left a little earlier than usual this summer. Typically they leave around the 17th - perhaps they know something about the weather that we don't know. Heavy rain on Saturday night left the garden bedraggled and created a carpet of acorns in the woods. A white morning glory with pale blue stripes blossomed after the deluge. I picked yet another bowl of wild blackberries and made a blackberry crisp for the fourth weekend in a row, and we've been harvesting tomatoes and making sauce. My son Andy cleaned out the fire pit - it's ready for some autumn bonfires! I did baskets and baskets of laundry as usual, and knit. I haven't been in my studio for weeks - it seems that I need to do other things at this time of year, things that feed my soul. But I know that I will have to get back there soon. My art feeds another part of my soul.

Sometimes though, it all seems so foolish, making art. I read a disturbing and important book by Suzi Gablik several years ago called Conversations Before the End of Time. The book addresses our environmental crisis and how artists are dealing with this in their personal lives, and in their art. A few of the artists interviewed in the book have chosen radical paths. One couple decided to go completely off the grid and literally disappeared into the woods. And one woman stopped making stuff and decided instead to clean up a polluted river near her home. She spends every day in the river, picking up trash, bit by bit. This is her art now. I'm torn on this. I realize that every load of wash I hang out, and every basket of vegetables I raise to feed my family is a great help to the environment. Sometimes I think that I could be completely happy just doing these things. But then my brain gets hungry, too.
So it's back to that big unanswerable question:
What is art, anyway?


artslice said...

A good question, wish I had an eloquent answer! Sounds like an interesting book... maybe they have it at our library. Love that hanging laundry... I've always wanted to paint that with just the right sunlight coming through sheets or something white.

Rob S. said...

What you're doing is just right for your art, Martha. You've struck a good balance, and that's the key. Otherwise, something goes wanting for lack of attention, and one's art tends to suffer as a by-product of the imbalance.

Martha Miller said...

Hi Brenda

Yes, wash on the line would be a great thing to paint! You could also do it with your felting!!

Martha Miller said...

Hi Rob

Oh yeah. BALANCE.
Somehow I don't give myself credit unless I'm flat out busy with my art. I feel guilty taking time to do other things. But I know how crazy I get if I don't have the balance. When I'm in this time of regenerating, I think I fear that I'll lose my art - you know? Use it or lose it? So I have to remember that this is all part of it.

Don Gray said...

These photos are wonderful, Martha--so LUSH! You can't lose your art, Martha--you're doing it all the time whether you know it or not.

Martha Miller said...

Oh, Hey, Thanks, Don! I need to hear that right now!!