When we were having our family ocean day in Harpswell, Maine the other day, I created some arranged nature sculptures with stones. I have been drawn to creating things like this ever since I was a child, but in the past year or so have really started to understand why.
First, I love nature and feel drawn to it, and love spending time connecting to it. Second, I love graffiti and street art, and the idea of someone coming upon art in a place they might not expect it, outside of a museum. Making something out of every day objects like stones or leaves makes the experience even more unexpected in my opinion, because you are taking something that people might take for granted, and forcing them to take notice.
There is another dynamic to this type of art, which is the temporary-ness of it. These arrangements won’t last forever, and in this case, probably disappeared with the changing tide. Had I not photographed them, they might not have been seen by anyone else once we left the beach. For some reason, this appeals to me. I suppose it is because it prevents me from becoming too perfectionistic or precious about art-making, therefore promoting creative spontaneity and enjoyment of the constructing process rather than obsessing over making something “perfect”.
I could easily spend an entire afternoon making things like this. I find myself, even if I am just sitting on the grass observing Simon while he drives his trucks in the dirt, absent-mindedly collecting and arranging pebbles, or breaking a twig into small pieces and laying them in a circle, or even gathering leaves and decorating the ground with them. It is a recurring impulse. Jeramy and Simon share this joy for playing and building with nature, and our days at the beach are usually spent mostly in construction mode.
Note: If you love this kind of art-making as much as I do, or just want to read more, check out the art of Andy Goldsworthy, who is one of my absolute favorite artists, or read this post by Jeanette over at ARTHCOO! about making natural installation art with kids.