In the flow
Sunbeam, an old ghost mining town on the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River, is the geographical center of Idaho. What a perfect name to describe an area of the world that has been shining it’s light on my heART for 50 years.
Just up the river is a town called Stanley, a mere stone’s throw to Redfish Lake, a place where my family spent many summers exploring the pine forests and mountain trails of the Sawtooth National Forest. We were like the sockeye salmon of the past, the red fish, returning year after year to splash in its crystal clear waters.
If you keep swimming up the Salmon River to the south (yes, it primarily flows north!), the source of its bubbling coolness is hidden near Galena Summit.
Carrying tire tubes around our waists and sneakers on our feet, we hunted down the perfect rapids to freeze our bums as we floated our way back towards Stanley.
Now, descending the other side of Galena, you enter the Boulder Mountain Range and the headwaters of the Big Hole River. Flowing right past Easley Hot Springs, our family’s cabin still stands among the trees, although we haven’t owned it for decades.
That doesn’t stop us from still soaking in the mineral pool…
Wandering up a nearby forest service road, you find yourself along Boulder Creek in the midst of an aspen grove. Among all of this endless beauty, however, this place is now where my heART of Idaho truly lies.
There is no doubt that installation would have taken me to Idaho one day, but to create artwork in loving memory of my mom and her resting place was a beautiful honor. With very little time to prepare, I let the earth be my guide: organic dyes I brewed from avocado and lichen, natural pigments from around the world and all kinds of stone.
As luck would have it, the natural color palette hovered in the ochre and hematite family: rich yellows, deep oranges and earthy reds. Ochre has a strong history of being offered to ancestral spirits for their journey in the after-life. My mom received the same beautiful offering.
Substrates of paper and it’s pulp, ice and river stone held each subtle color that nature provided for my mom.
From Redfish to Boulder Creek, I spent quiet reflective time exploring each site that has brought me so much joy and helped fuel my love of vast landscapes. My family, however, has always been by my side in Idaho, so sharing an installation that we could build together was the ultimate gift.
Collecting stone from the Salmon River with my loved ones, we each painted a personal creation with mineral pigment to leave by my mom near Boulder Creek.
Each step along the way held a sacred visual and emotional transformation.
The river stones will forever adorn the forest floor at the base of the small pine tree we planted for my mom’s ashes to nurture in the rich Idaho soil.
I left my heART…
For me, the heART and soul of Idaho is just up the river and over the pass from Sunbeam. The feel of ice cold water rushing through my toes, the smell of sagebrush warmed by the sun, and the sound of the wind rustling in the trees will always bring me right back. I’m forever grateful that my mom and her family brought me here so I could fall in love with such an amazing place and leave my creative installation behind.
Now I have the joy of returning to sit quietly with my mom under the whispering aspen and watch as her tree grows towards the deep blue sky.