Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 29, 2013: “Remember friend, as you pass by, as you are now, so once was I....”

This photo, taken a few days ago, shows how much remains of the dirt that lifted with the roots, when Hurricane Sandy hit last year on this date, heaving thousands of mature trees onto the ground, throwing many from their homes, and many others into grief. For me, living in the country, our hardship was limited to a week or so without electricity, during a cold turn of season; but the fallen trees have remained a continual reminder of losses. I was relieved when summer foliage put many of them behind a shroud of green.

Now that they are revealing themselves again, the toppled roots, I am surprised that the seasons that have passed, with freezing and thawing and rain and more rain, have not loosened the soil more.

(You can see many more photos I took immediately after the storm, in blogposts [HERE], and [HERE] is a link to a subsequent post, with more photos, along with some drawings and studies.)

This photo, above, was after the winter, earlier this year. I chose to imagine that the depressions would provide opportunities for amphibians and other creatures depending on vernal pools, and that the dirt would loosen and the roots would be a habitat for birds and snakes and insects, as below --

Below, a painting on paper, completed in my studio only this summer. Nature's workings unfold slowly; so do mine.

My many photos and drawings of the trees' root wads, upturned and exposed, have been a way of channeling the grief and sadness and loss, and have led me slowly to a dormant gesture in my work.

©2013 Ravenna Taylor, (as yet untitled), oil on prepared paper, 22 x 27 inches

In this earlier blogpost, [HERE], I wrote about the unfolding of this imagery in my work, and the friction it suggested, with the more methodical and orderly compositional style I've had over recent years. Maybe the sense of friction ignited the sense of licking flames in this image. I am open to what will happen next in my work; I trust that a sidetrack will lead me to experiences I value.

Remember friend, as you pass by,
as you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, so you must be.
Prepare yourself to follow me.
- Gravestone inscription


  1. The roots, bared to the elements and to our eyes are so moving and such a powerful metaphor. Because your painting is rendered in reds, oranges, yellows I experience a transformation of the muddy, earthy roots into a spiritual reality. Beautiful, Ravenna.


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