The stuff of dreams
Nestled in the sand among sea-weathered driftwood in La Push, Washington, my daughter, Zsofi, dazzles us with tales of the universe. As the stars above begin to twinkle, wild statistics of relativity bounce around our banter like the sparks of our campfire:
And to bring us right back to the very beach we are huddled on, famed astrophysicist, Carl Sagan’s timeless quote drifts by:
- “The total number of stars in the universe is greater than all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the planet Earth.”
So, as we sit in awe of the cosmic vastness around us, a very simple truth emerges:
We are small.
The notion of small, and it’s more expressive cousins of compact, tiny, petite and wee, are often celebrated in our culture. All things technological are shrinking while becoming more robust and efficient. Micro-living and tiny houses are infiltrating both our consciousness and our neighborhoods. Even our planet, in its itsy-bitsy place in the Milky Way, is dwindling as globalization becomes the norm.
In the creative world, miniature art has been thriving for centuries with dozens of active societies across the continents. Who isn’t intrigued by the artist who has the patience, focus and unparalleled fine-motor skills to create the minute?
That artist is not me….or so I thought.
Under the microscope
Building a sculptural piece for my installation practice has been dictated by the space it is created in - studio, kitchen, freezer, silicone mold – all relatively small. However, the proximity I have to the work in vision, creation and documentation magnifies its size in my mind’s eye. Nevertheless, like moving from sketchbook to canvas, I can see that my installation’s substrate is actually massive...
Welcome to Planet Earth!
Lights, Camera, Action
The Hawaiian Islands are a tiny ripple in the Pacific Ocean. Iceland is an elf in the shadow of Greenland. The expansive beach of the rugged Olympic Peninsula is a milli-fraction of North America’s coastline. Yet, each of these wonderlands have elicited vastness in contrast to the tiny installations I have placed.
Through the lens of a camera, I’m pulled magnetically towards the details of the artwork starring in my play, but the setting is an integral part of the plot. The locations have been carefully selected by a visceral energy, their draw magically nipping at my wanderlust.
Simply put, I travel to these sites because of their immense beauty.
Placing an installation within a sweeping environment does not make me feel small, but rather fills me with limitless creativity.
You see, it’s all relative.
Blink of an eye
Beyond the miniscule nature of being alive and kicking in this teeny twirling orb called Earth, our time here is nothing more than a blip. How about that for making you feel small?
In my artwork, people often wonder why I make ethereal pieces that will be gobbled up by the world around them. All of the time and effort, heart and soul, to be snatched away in a matter of moments?
Placing tenuous work allows me to experience the now. It is the nano-second of time that I can create my own unique mark and marvel at its micro-impact.
Standing in the massive lava flow on the MacKenzie Pass in the Oregon Cascades, a spectacle that belched its way across the landscape close to 3000 years ago, I see a few scattered trees. They have no business being there, but it is their wee mark in time and space that captures my heart and my artist's eye.
So, get out there and plant your creative sapling now.
For many of us, the idea of being small is crippling. Comparing ourselves to those around us can foster fear and produce feelings of inadequacy. Artists have this affliction in spades, all wrapped up in limiting beliefs that keep us from making our mark, even though the world is anxiously waiting for it.
Funny enough, the best way to move beyond this fear is by taking the tiniest of steps. Just one unique speck today creates a growing momentum and informs the splotch of tomorrow. We’ve been graced with space, so fill it up, buttercup!
The granular level
The next time you are laying in the sand, imagining the grains you hold in your hand are only a snippet of the stars you see in the sky above, remember this:
- There are more atoms in a human than stars in the universe.
Guess that means we truly are larger than life!
How about leaving your mark in the comments below?