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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