I made mention last week of a tree out back of my studio, affectionately known as “The Emperor.” A beautiful old Red Oak, it stood above all the others at the base of my fossil-laden hill. And its demise was what led me back to that same hill, reacquainting myself with its treasures. The tree, yet another belated victim of Hurricane Irene, finally toppled thanks to recent strong winds. I’d love to show a picture of it but can’t find one anywhere. Didn’t ever even think about taking one – the Emperor had been there forever and probably would remain so. And all I can hear in the back of my mind is Joni Mitchell singing “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.”
Roughly six feet or so in diameter at its base, it held a commanding presence. On its side now it exposed a massive root system – gnarled and tangled roots both large and small. No surprise that I would find some fossil rocks within that mass of roots – they were here much earlier! In fact, this misguided notion of physical permanence – this somewhat hubristic idea that all we see around us was forever and forever will be – is easily countered by the mere presence of these fossils. For when they thrived some 400 million years ago this ground was the bed of an inland sea. Even better, what is here now was, at that time, somewhere well south of the Equator! So much for permanence.
Back now to the more recent past. As I was poking around at the base of the tree I kept finding glass and pottery shards and other various and weathered man-made objects. It so happens that this property was once a summer camp. It began sometime in the early 1900s and ended fifty years ago. And off in the woods, away from the main camp buildings, were pits dug for burning and/or burying garbage. Further digging through that immediate area led me to find other artifacts.
This juxtaposition of objects, some from the recent past and some from a most distant past, seem to fit right in with my ongoing Devonian Drawer project. All heaving up from the ground around me, these various objects speak to the whole nature of impermanence, that nothing stays the same, and that the only constant we can rely upon is change.
A number of recent postings displayed some examples of this match-up. Here are a few more:
Thank you as always for visiting. More images at www.artmurphy.com
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