Thursday, October 28, 2021

My Contribution to Guadalupe Mountains National Park's permanent art collection

(Above: Dawn Along the Old Highway. 23" x 7". Digital image printed on fabric.  Free-motion machine stitching. Custom framed.)

Most of the National Park System art residency programs ask selected artists to contribute to their permanent art collection.  It is an honor, of course!  It is a great line on one's resume. Yet the fact of the matter often is that there isn't a lot of wall space for 2D artwork ... not after years, even decades, of the successful program.  Guadalupe Mountains National Park's Visitor Center isn't that large.  After all, it is in a rather remote location and attracts hikers and campers who come to enjoy the designated wilderness areas.  The gift shop is tiny.  The public exhibition space is quite small.  It seemed to me that they really didn't need another, 2D piece to hang in an office that isn't even open to the public. (I might be wrong about this!  It was only my personal observation ... but I really think this is the case!)

(Above:  My altered book which documents the sights, trails, and experiences during my art residency.)

Guadalupe Mountains National Park has a very nice library.  Sure, it isn't open to the public, but it is the place for staff meetings and other functions.  (While there, I attended a going-away party for one of the interns ... in the library!) There was plenty of available shelf space.  It seemed like an artist book might be a nice addition to the collection ... especially since a book is meant to be handled, could be taken to various presentations (like the Carlsbad Rotary Meeting that asked me to talk), and could be used by rangers for various in-park programing. So, that's what I created.

The book was originally a Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.  The cover, inside and out, was collaged with a variety of decorative papers. All the original recipe pages were tossed into the trash.  Watercolor pages were cut to size and attractively stained with coffee.  Five holes were punched in each page.  Ninety images were printed and zigzag stitched on the pages.

Now, I'm certainly not a professional calligrapher but I do own a calligraphy pen!  When using it, I attempt to have a really nice, legible script.  First, however, I penciled in lines and words I wanted to write.  After letting the ink dry, the pencil lines were carefully erased.

The book documents the trails I hiked, the places I visited, my Labor Day weekend Clothesline Project, the volunteer day of picking up highway trash, and all sorts of flowers and insects.  (I did not use the one photo of a rattlesnake ... but I did include the image of the two tarantulas!)  It isn't in chronological order but that doesn't really matter.  The book is a visual adventure about my month as the Park's artist-in-residence.

I hope the book gets seen, read, used ... handled ... and promotes Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  It really is a wonderful place and needs to be shared with many people.

I used one of my images ... a photo of dawn taken while walking along the old highway (as seen in the picture above) for another piece.  I'm calling it Dawn Along the Old Highway.  It is a free-motion machine embellished, 2D artwork.  (It is the first image in this blog post.)  It is framed in a chunky moulding so that it can literally sit on a shelf ... perhaps in the library!  It doesn't need a wall.  There's no glass.  It could easily be taken by Park rangers for in-park programming or outside presentations. 

It is my hope that both pieces will find a way to help promote the park.  They are now on their way west, to their new home!  Below are a few more pictures of the many pages.



Alex said...

That's a genius idea to solve the space issue and what a fabulous artwork you've created with the book.

Ann Scott said...

Wow, these are truly generous gifts. Best use of that cookbook, IMO!