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HIDDEN 2022 Online Exhibit

In the first weeks of the pandemic, I sat for hours in a corner of the smallest room of my rural mountain cabin, pondering my newfound need for stillness. Something in those early, awful days triggered a visceral childhood desire to hide. Gradually it occurred to me that I could hide outdoors, so on most days, I found my way out to the woods. Exploring the forest became the high point of the following weeks and months of pandemic isolation. My woodland walks were restful and rich in imagery.  The old need to hide came with a gift: half forgotten memories of childhood landscapes, real and imaginary, came back to me with a vivid poignancy that felt almost dreamlike. Often as a child, I would dream of doorways between trees, or of split level paths on steep hillsides, or of reflections in pools that didn’t quite match, as though either the reflected world or the one above were slightly askew. 

The forest felt not only safe but spacious, especially after I began to explore the network of abandoned paths that existed side by side with the trails I was familiar with, and I could come and go without risking human encounters. Individual trees gathered like old friends at the edges of sunny outdoor rooms. Small seeps and ponds held miniature forests of mosses perched on rocks. Winter’s low light felt intimate, illuminating animal tracks and delicate grasses, and casting long blue shadows on the snow. In this way, the cycle of the seasons passed, and so too did the worst of the pandemic. 

I have emerged with a new series of oil and cold wax paintings. Favorite childhood stories deepened my appreciation for this time out of time, and are woven into this body of work. Often a solitary tree or stone serves as a metaphor for my own participation in the moments they evoke. Some pieces are painted over completely different images. They all share a quality of something disguised or hidden, not fully revealed. 

….There was only wind blowing through the tree, the sound of sparrows chirping, and the warmth of the sun. No me. I, the observer, was absent, absorbed completely in the experience. Who was ‘I’ during those moments where there was only wind in the trees?  

from Hymns to an Unknown God by Sam Keen

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