Prairie Sketches

Here are a few sketches I did while at the farm this year.  When I wasn’t reading or taking walks, I busied myself with looking through boxes of old photographs and studying strange objects that have been floating around the place for years.  Among them I found my dad’s spur from when he was a small boy, my grandmother’s oil can, and a peculiar spiky item that my aunt explained was once used to ween a calf.  I have seen all of these things before, they lay on selves and window seals, or hang from nails on the wall, but I have never examined them as closely as I did this summer.

I am still discovering new changes in myself upon returning home.  I have been back in the United States for over 5 months but am surprised with the difference in the way I handle problems, interact with new and familiar people, and conduct daily tasks.  One of these changes has come in the form of the way I look at the world around me.  When I was younger, my dad would always ask me “When you look at something, are you really seeing it?”  I never truly understood what he meant until now.  When I was living in Istanbul, I reconnected myself with drawing in a sketchbook.  I carried it everywhere and drew everything; faces, objects, buildings, carpets.  I wanted to study the unfamiliar environment that surrounded me, so I copied it down in my sketchbook.  A new world opened itself up to me.  I saw details, facets and elements that my eyes would normally never notice.

In October of last year, I sat in front of a ruined Byzantine Palace with my fellow artist, Trici Venola.  We talked of this concept as we toiled for hours over the endless detail of our drawings.  Together, we uncovered a world of tiny cracks, carefully laid brick work, delicate vines and worn away marble.   Attempting to capture the incredible variety of surfaces and textures brought to light a new appreciation for every hand that labored in the production of such a structure.

I want to keep this process of discovery active in my life.  The objects and pictures that I found on the farm this year are far less complex than the Boukoleon Palace, but they mean a great deal to me.  They are my childhood, and my father’s childhood, and pieces of my home, and this year I saw them for the first time.
I drew this from a photograph I found of my great great grandmother Sarah Tripp, who homesteaded in Colorado.  The picture is dated around 1900.  By looking at her, I can tell she had a life full of a kind of work I will never know.

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The Farm

There was one summer in my life when I didn’t visit the farm where my father grew up.  I was in Istanbul, experiencing a life foreign and exotic, as far away from familiarity as I could be.  This summer, I returned to find welcome home cookies, late night card games, and open arms.  After recognizing the many changes in myself, I am happy to know that there is a place in my life and my heart that is constant.

A Field

Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,
there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase
each other
doesn’t make any sense.

Rumi