I didn’t realize how much I had been impacted by the Covid 19 Pandemic until I was riding my motorcycle through a forest of giant redwood trees on a foggy morning in northern California. This two-week trip was the first real vacation I had taken in the last 18 months and the first opportunity to fully unplug and just be in the world. As I rode I realized that I had responded to the pandemic by throwing myself into teaching and taking on overloads throughout the past year. By focusing on my students I was able to ignore my own fears about my underlying health risks and that of my elderly parents.
But now that I was here in this primordial landscape I became aware of the burden of tension I had been carrying for so long just beneath the surface of my consciousness. I became aware of how much I depend on podcasts, youtube, and music to distract me and how that had limited my artistic output for the last year. I had become a recluse during a year where I spent an average of 6 hours per day in zoom video chats.
I was still listening to loud music as I rode fast across the 106 degree Oregon dessert heading towards the California coastline. By the time I reached Crescent city the temperature had dropped to 48 degrees.
The next morning I turned off the music in my helmet as I rode alone through Redwoods State Park. I felt reverence for these majestic trees have been here far longer than I have been alive and will remain far beyond my passing. The awareness of the transient nature of life helps me to recenter and rejuvenate. Stress and worries melt away when I am in nature. That is nature’s gift to us. I think this is what Ansel Adams understood and why he chose to photograph Rocks and Trees during much of World War II. Nature reminds us that this too will pass.
Just looking at the photographs I made of ferns in this forest helps me to connect to what really matters in life. As I prepare new work for upcoming fall art shows I have chosen to emphasize abstract images of nature in hopes that you will find the same inner peace I find when I make this work.