Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson, 1970 (photo by Scott Haeffner)

 Last week, I submitted a proposal for a public art project calling for a piece of  ‘environmental art’ in my community.  This has been a project that spoke to my heart and soul, and being shortlisted to propose for this particular project, in my own community, was at the same time both humbling and the most natural thing in the world.  The journey to formulating and articulating my vision for this piece has been a deep-marking gift to both life and spirit.  It is one thing to hold thoughts, beliefs and a passion for things, but it is quite another to have to formulate those thoughts into a cohesive concept and then explain it in a coherent way to someone else.  Whether or not I ever get to create the piece on the land, I have already created it in my mind, in my heart and in my spirit – the work is already completed and its meaning clear.  The work is already matured into the landscape and embraced by my community . . .  in my heart.  The time preparing for this project proposal has led my learning through a wonderful landscape of artists who seem to see the world the way I do, who mold the very earth on which we stand as a way to interact with the natural world,  to encourage observers to be part of it.  Today, reading “Art in the Land: A Critical Anthology of Environmental Art”, edited by Alan Sonfist, I was struck by a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: 
“In the woods, we return to reason and faith.  There I feel that nothing can befall me in life – no disgrace, no calamity . . . which nature cannot repair.  Standing on the bare ground – my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space – all mean egotism vanishes.  I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see it all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part and parcel of God.”
Joshua Taylor, in an article published posthumously as the first essay of this book, uses the words “landscape as visual poetry’, and that “the artist’s role was not to boast of his own feelings and his creative accomplishments but to call attention to the verities of nature in such a way that nature, not the artist, moved the spectator.”   Such is my goal.  I cannot improve on what a greater hand than mine has wrought.  But I can damned well slow your steps and raise your eyes and make you see it with your heart as well as your eyes.

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