Sunday, June 7, 2015

Creating Means Living

I am on day 5 of being at the Art Farm and I thought I’d send a shout out to the outside world to let you know that I am ALIVE and WELL. In fact, I think I might be happier than ever!

On Wednesday, Ed the owner and director of the Art Farm, picked me up at the bus depot in Grand Island. He was exactly as I had imagined him: tall and thin, with a great Midwestern drawl. He grew up in Marquette, Nebraska, and when he inherited the family farm, he decided to turn it into a sanctuary for artists of all kinds. 22 years later and here we are!

As we drove towards the farm, he told me about the historic Mormon Trail and the famed Oregon Trail that pass through this area. We crossed the Platte River which was brown from rain. Normally, the river is bone dry and people can drive their cars down the riverbed! As many of you may know, the middle of the country has been getting an unusual amount of rain this spring…

This is Monsanto country, and all you see are straight rows of corn and soybean for miles. The Art Farm rises like an oasis in the desert, except this oasis won’t disappear as you get closer. It only gets more magical! It’s an island of tall trees and colorful wildflowers amidst an ocean of chemically-laced crops.

I live in the farmhouse where Ed grew up; it was built in the early 1800’s and still standing strong (sort of). My room is upstairs in the attic and the staircase is so steep that I’ve got to walk down it face forward. I’ve got some roommates in the walls – a raucous band of raccoons that wake me up in the middle of the night with their terrific thumps and wild chattering. It sounds like they’re have an all-night dance party up there, or maybe running foot races. Anyway, I’m getting used to them but I bought some ear plugs just in case.

We can choose any studio space on the farm as long as it’s available. I chose a barn across the way from the farmhouse – important proximity to the kitchen ensures constant access to tea! I felt like one of TheBoxcar Children as I organized my space, dusting shelves and arranging flowers. It feels nice to make something cozy out of a hollow boxcar/barn. Just outside the door, I can see an old car painted crazy colors and a fairy house made of wire, gifts from past artists. Sometimes, a marshmallow-tailed bunny hops by or a swallowtail might stop in to say hello. I also share the space with a little field mouse that pops his head out every day to make sure I’m working.

In my studio, I can spread out and stalk the floor, or curl up in a cozy arm chair. I have decorated my studio with found artwork left behind by past residents. The walls have splashes of color and paint drips from previous tenants. It makes me happy to know that so many have come before me and blessed this space with their creative spirits.

There are no car horns or city noises out here; only the sound of birdsong and the silver whispers of wind. Sometimes, a summer storm will pass through, leaving the farm greener and muddier than ever.

Without outside stimulation from the internet or my cell phone, I find myself sinking into a place where my soul can stretch its wings and fly. This place isn’t even that remote by my standards. In my travels, I have often been in remote places such as the Amazon rainforest or the middle of the Mediterranean. The difference is that now, for the first time ever, my focus is on CREATING. There is nothing else I need to be doing besides writing my little heart out. And let me tell you what – it’s a delicious feeling!

With each passing day, I learn more about my process and my projects. I am figuring out my flow – what works, what doesn’t. But mainly, I am sitting my butt in this chair and writing. 

Sometimes, it is hard to choose where to direct my energy. But that is a good thing! I have a lot of projects that are calling to me. And I know I am on the right path because it feels so damn good, like I am doing my soul a favor, answering a prayer it made long ago.