An act of courtship set me on my pathway to becoming an artist. On my 25th birthday the man who would become my husband gave me a top-of-the-line Minolta camera with a macro lens. He responded to my surprise at this lavish gift by saying, "I've noticed that you aren't very aware of what's around you, and I thought this would help you learn to see." I carried that camera everywhere, capturing the understated beauty of the Arctic landscape surrounding the northern coastal village of Barrow, Alaska where I had been working as an archaeologist. During summer days I would lay on the spongy, damp tundra photographing the beauty of this land in its delicate flowers and moss. This miniature world had been there all along, right under my feet.
Years earlier I lived with an Eskimo family near the coastal village of Unalakleet. They knew the life of the land and sea for miles around, as intimately as I know the terrain of my kitchen counter. Every nuanced shift in the wind carried information. They knew when the Sandhill cranes would arrive and which week in summer the willow leaves would be the most tender. Written in the color of the water and movement of the wind and waves were clear directions describing how they would catch dinner. They saw and understood what was unfathomable to me. I admired their mystical abilities and often felt like a child; so much of what I knew and valued didn't really matter or make sense in this timeless place.
Exploring life through the lens of that camera became my entry point to awareness. And yet, even after winning awards for the beautiful prints I learned to make in the darkroom, I left this behind to focus on the practical matters of starting a family and developing businesses. Years later in my first printmaking workshop I felt myself land. I'd waited all my life to unlock the mysteries embedded in the grain of wood, to make marks with chisels, and to grapple with the puzzle of the image reversing when transferred from wood to paper. After many years of printmaking, all of this still satisfies my intellect, my hands, and my soul in the deepest way.
Attending to my inner landscape and noting my responses to the world around me has led me to understanding and valuing what is important to me. I have learned over years of creating images to pay attention to what I'm attracted to. I often incubate a snippet of an idea, insight, or enticing glimpse of light or color for months before I do even a rough sketch. I follow the thread of the experience in a search to understand what it is I want to say or show; what it is that intrigues me. What does this mean to me? How can I express its essence? The distance between what I'm attracted to and the final print is a long one with many stops along the way. It is this journey that keeps me awake and paying attention.
Fifteen years of living on my coffee farm in Kona has given me perhaps a rudimentary likeness to my Eskimo friends. I hear the hiss of the rain as it travels toward my mountain home. I know the coffee with its seasons of resting, flowering, and fruiting. I track the cycles of my trees so I can harvest the avocados, jaboticaba, grapefruit, and mountain apples before the birds and rats beat me to it. Amid the chirping, chattering, calling, and trilling that goes on all day, I hear that the cardinals are enjoying a blockbuster year.
I don't use my camera much anymore except at birthday parties and I haven't seen my Eskimo friends for over twenty years, and yet these early experiences pointed me toward the center of my life, which is not really about making prints. It's really about waking up.
BRUCE CADWELL for inviting me to see the world and for open-heartedly giving me the support I needed to discover my inner vision and creativity. A huge thanks for your skill in cutting all of my blocks perfectly straight.
HIROKI MORINOUE for your deep presence and dedication to your students that supported my learning and growth during the years I worked at your side learning the art and craft of printmaking.
JODIE for being my friend and steady companion during our 13 years of printing together. I forgive you for the black paw prints you tracked across my carving table.
ROBERT GONZALES for showing me a pathway to living with an open heart, and to SHARY CROCKER, DEE CHAPON, KAREN O'CONNELL and my other companions on the journey.
PELE for inviting me to live on this magical Island.