Art and Place

Through all my walkabouts in the Guilford woods, something has stuck with me. Something that follows me to every classroom and something that has permanently changed who I am. As a child, I always loved being outside, playing for hours by myself on expansive National Forest that surrounded my childhood home. I loved-and still love-the notion of getting “lost”. I found most of my enjoyment stemmed from being alone, deep in the woods, where I would feel complete freedom to be “myself”. However, I had not fully come to understand what wilderness meant to me until I came to college.

My first few weeks of college, I had a broken cellphone, which drove me to seek out new friends by wandering the woods. I was shown secret places, meaningful sites, and was told mysteriously magical stories about this forest, molding a new view in my mind- one that incorporated not just the physical, but the historical and spiritual aspects of a location. Suddenly, I saw this place as something entirely different than my home-forest; this was somewhere that had guided and protected slaves, somewhere that held enchanting white fawns and possible portals, somewhere that had its own will, and somewhere that could influence my artwork and perceptions.

“Do Something New” piece I made that represents a map of campus, including all the places I’ve walked barefoot. Made from mixed media including naturally found objects such as moss, bird egg, dragonfly carcass, and lichen.

In the Fall of 2017, I took 3D Design. One project in particular called for us to do “something new” and make a piece about it. That semester I had grown more accustomed to not wearing shoes. In some ways, it was freeing yet grounding, almost becoming an extra sense, since we rarely use the sense of touch and feeling in the natural world. I documented everywhere on campus, including a majority of the woods, where I had walked barefoot, and had created my first rough map, including several objects discovered in the woods. It was this that eventually influenced my decision to become an Environmental Studies minor. I wanted to be able to reflect, improve, and sustain the natural world through my artwork. I viewed my undertaking as a way to “preserve” and “display” this space, by bringing them into the view of people who had never stepped foot in the woods before.

More detailed map I made for the mushroom log book. I split up sections of the woods to better record locations for each mushroom (Meadows, Back Entrance, Highlands, Lake & Lake Fields, Glassland, Rope Treeland, Firepits, Pines, Thick Woods, Foothills, Swampland, Mudlands, and Momma Treeland). I’ve collected data on mushroom species from each section and plan to revise in the future to make it more legible and accurate.

3 years later, for an Independent Study, I decided on the mushroom log book, and included a hand drawn map on the inside-front cover. I already had perimeters set in my mind about how the woods are split up, so drawing them out made it easier to pinpoint mushroom locations. For future blog posts, I will aim to connect my map to the historical maps of the woods, comparing and contrasting, along with drawing deductions about how and why particular land-forms and species reside in these spaces today.

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