40 gestures, 40 days, 40 years

Sunday, December 23, 2007


The 40th entry. This is part of what I've learned.

A birthday is a day like any other day.
40 is not a big amount.
40 is enough.
40 is arbitrary.
Priorities are important.
Even being flexible does not always guarantee peace.
You are responsible for your own emotions.
Just because you feel something does not mean you need to say or act upon it.
Unraveling is complicated.
There is power in limits.
Life is better with people in it.
Remaining open to serendipity is a gift.
This is not the end.

The postings from this blog will soon be available as a collection, in book form self-published through lulu. To be notified when it is complete or to be added to my mailing list for future projects, please contact me at flora_form(at)hotmail(dot)com, or come back to this site for a final posting by December 31, 2007. In the meantime, tune in at my regular blog for periodic art posts.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


The birds created their own energy. They spoke of displacement, carrying the goods, finding oneself in unusual circumstances, and moving in groups. They gave firsthand evidence: the inevitability of dirt, the accidental seed, the places we have and haven't touched.

Springboarding off that motion, the city sprouted a 40-leaved suburban laurel in the same neighborhood, right next to the lightpole with the acanthus base. This did not happen alone: it needed the thought, the action, the catalyst, the navigator and the stapler.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Seeds that survive being digested first by birds have a greater chance at germinating, growing best far from the site that they were eaten. Bird-dispersed seeds are generally red or black.

Bird gatherings go by enough names to make a found poem: charm, congregation, flock, scold, dissimulation, flight, tidings, sord, watch, murder, bevy, aerie, clamor, skein, wedge.

This cluster of doves strafed the community bulletin board outside Blackbird Bakery today, and then some disbanded. Public Art Works was deeply moved by all of the humans involved. If anyone has discovered the seed their bird was carrying and has found their way here, please feel free to post a comment (anonymously if you like).

Thursday, December 20, 2007


A trail of crumbs.

I have been working hard at understanding what I am doing here. My connection between things is evident to me, but not always so clear to all in the work. So I want to leave some indication of my intention throughout the day, and leave it open to interpretation. This is where it's at: the purposefulness of the act linked with serendipity. The gesture and the receipt of it.

Today's entry opens as the day progresses.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Planting is a deliberate act, so different from the random joy of seeds landing where they might and volunteering to grow. Somehow this isn't always enough, just to sit back and let those things happen by themselves. The active participant conducts experiments with seeds, breaks branches or seedpods and tucks them in the dirt. They collect, transfer, sow, and care. There are no skipped steps; the process is not forgiving.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Considering again the power of words to contain multiple meanings. Roots twisting into each other, bound as a result of growing beyond capacity and remaining in the confinement. My solution is tough love: shears cut through the roots to spread them apart, a new location is found, fresh soil or compost added. Best done when the plant is dormant, but before hard frost, so new growth comes in the spring.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I can't resist more references to the shape of an unfurling life in James Hollis' writing. He suggests that the opportunity for conscious living starts somewhere in the middle of one's life. In contrast to behavior learned as children and the strong cultural expectations that shape that learning, we come to understand that there is a choice about which of these characteristics we take into the later part of life, and a responsibility to find our true self.

Rather than an outright parallel to any botanical theme, I'm thinking that this looks more like a personal topography. Bruce Chatwin wrote about songlines, the Australian Aboriginal charting of time and space through music and words that simultaneously emerge along and describe a walked passage through the land. It blows my mind each time I read it, trying to think about these multiple dimensions growing out of one creation. This is the shape of passage I'd choose: one that flows and offers mind-bending new perspectives.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Today was like a line casting out and reeling in. I moved away and came back at the same time.

Lines were everywhere: the highway, the snow on the mountains, the yarn, the wire, the paper. All of them shifting dimensions and scale, wrapping around each other. I let some of them unroll on their own; others needed help.

The vine is a grown line. It is writing, linked arms in dance, a thread to the memory of a greenhouse, a garden, and a walk down the middle of unlit roads.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

loss and longing

These words are linked by the idea of a search. And here, a discovery.

Two glass net floats reunited.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Reading about seed bombs today. As an alternative for the cold months, I am sending out plant imagery into the world, virtually and in real time. Maybe things will grow. Isn't that what humans are doing anyway?


Part of the exercise is forgiving oneself for mistakes, allowing for the beauty of awkwardness and omission that makes us human. Today's first entry is really December 13th's entry, posted in the middle of the night.

Validation from Christopher Alexander's The Nature of Order: The Phenomenon of Life. He addresses the power of wabi-to-sabi, or the Zen "rusty beauty" aesthetic philosophy. And he continues: "...[objects that are full of life] are all beautiful, but they are all damaged. Life itself is damaged, and nothing which is perfect can be truly alive... This quality, the real life, the deep life of all great art, and of all genuine experience, is our aim."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

loose ends

Botanical sketches, sensory connections, walking a trail, making what i know -- all of these have been growing toward the light of project completion.

"There is a love for the marvellous, a belief in the marvellous, intertwined in all my projects, which hurries me out of the common pathways of men, even to the wild and unvisited regions I am about to explore." Mary Shelley

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


embrace shadows
flourish within limitations
hang over the line

the pleasure of the seeing these manifest in physical work

Monday, December 10, 2007

...and sensing

Feeling the shortcomings of this mode, as if the fascination with the immediacy of recording and writing is not living up to the kinesthetic cadence of real life. Smelling the cracked grey cold of the day, the backblow of smoke out of the woodstove, the bite of toasted cumin. Feeling the ache of split skin on the pad of my right middle finger. Hearing a breath inhaled, a sigh, lapping water from the tree stand, a marble rolling under the stove. Tasting watered down lingonberry juice, then preserved ginger with orange, anise and salt. None of this translates.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

making sense

The search for overarching connectivity within the vast variety of our known world is a unifying theme for artists and scientists. Can it be an accident that the proportions of natural forms are found in musical root harmonies?

Saturday, December 8, 2007


The Madison Avenue poinsettias have died in the turn of cold weather, which was to be expected of tropical plants outdoors here at this time of year. I want to be sad about it, because planting them was such a joy. But it also marks and affirms life's non-linearity and the inevitability of darkness coming with light. It is another reminder of the tension between humans and place.

Friday, December 7, 2007

action as metaphor

Some observations would have me believe I am hardwired to weave: culture and environment, blackberry vines and roses, music, street theater and battery recycling, and words and pictures.

So is the bower bird, albeit for other reasons; depicted here in its wikipedia entry:
"the bower ranges from a circle of cleared earth with a small pile of twigs in the center to a complex and highly decorated structure of sticks and leaves — usually shaped like a walkway, a small hut or a maypole — into and around which the (bird) places a variety of objects he has collected. These objects — usually strikingly colored — may include hundreds of shells, leaves, flowers, feathers, stones, berries, and even discarded plastic items or pieces of glass. The bird spends hours carefully sorting and arranging his collection, with each object in a specific place...the collection of objects reflects the personal taste of each bird and its ability to procure unusual and rare items..."

How can the physical part of one's practice substantiate and reveal the concept behind the work? In the end, visual art needs to be read by viewers, and in an ideal world there is meaning inherent in the work. But isn't there power in the labor that might be important to understanding what we are doing and how it is conveyed?

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Today's work consisted of recuperation, soup and nesting. Knitting with tinned copper.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

at the core

La tête est pleine mais le coeur n'a pas assez.
My head is full but my heart hasn't had enough.
Lhasa de Sela, La Marée Haute

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


This is the title of a small series of work I've been building, and I am interested to see what the definitions really are (as opposed to the definition I'd like it to have): a moving of souls to new bodies, of landless people to land, of expatriates to new countries, and a rippling effect of changes made to related parts in solid modeling. And as much as none of these fits, they all do, to a certain degree.

Monday, December 3, 2007

more is not more

I would like to celebrate the halfway point of this project by cleaving the water in half. Instead I allow this insistence of rain to swell up the wood, rust the steel, overrun its ditches and culverts, and seep into my foundation.

Flow is a theme running through my work. It sums up the untenable quality of working in the psychosensitive space that is most open and creative for art, as well as the idea that this kind of energy comes when it will and takes its own course. John McPhee chronicled three examples of catastrophic flow and the humans who negotiated these undeniable forces in The Control of Nature, a favorite read.

I offer up an image of past work that has resonance tonight, a waterchime from 1991.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


more is more.
throwing these leaf boats into the gushing storm drain in front of my house

Saturday, December 1, 2007

snow planting

Today Public Art Works planted two times 40 red poinsettias and shot a bit of festive holiday color up Madison Avenue on Bainbridge Island, prevailing in the midst of snow and weekend traffic.

Friday, November 30, 2007

upon closer inspection

the collapsing and pushing of line into form is not unlike breathing

acknowledging the work as beautiful cages
cracking them open
loosening the grip

these poignant words from the amazing Michael Timmins' Rock and Bird
She captured both Rock and Bird
tied one to the leg of the other
kept them as prisoners
until they knew who was master
then she threw them to the sky

Bird with unbarred wings disappeared
Rock with weighted heart returned
and Rock became her anchor
and Bird became her dream

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

what I'm looking at

The light, the flowers, the drawings and the words. And the worn wood desk and the window just outside the framing of this photograph, without which there would be no context to place the rest. Poem excerpt from "Hometown," by Christine Deavel and featured in her book, Box of Little Spruce, published by LitRag Press.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

the wonder of the small

Some discussion today about the idea of islands, both physical and metaphorical. I am enchanted with the idea that an isolated land mass or state of being provides ground for witnessing both condensed and expansive versions of life on a larger scale. But in the end, the island is connected to places or beings outside itself; the island always exists in relation.

The last stanza of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's poem Space seems relevant to this:
"A word falls in the silence like a star,
Searing the empty heavens with the scar
Of beautiful and solitary flight
Against the dark and speechless space of night."

Monday, November 26, 2007


Back in the spring, friend and Seattle poet Melanie Noel and I worked this idea of sculptural poetry. Together we imagined that this kind of hive could be, contain and reveal a poem, much as a real hive might be built by, house and reveal its bees. This sculpture would conceal a small audio recorder and spill the words from within, hanging mostly solitary in a space. I continue to be enchanted with the idea of bringing this piece to live in multiple dimensions: as a linear written piece that wraps itself into volume and then penetrates the aural.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

flexing the line

I think I might be blind with infatuation for this process of metal thread embroidery on top of felted metal wire. Still trying to get the relationship right.

What rises to the surface tonight is how the line is growing, taking on more of the form of the fibrous hemisphere. The line activates in space. This work also takes place in other modes.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

loosely connected

Brands as surface pattern, cedar branches on a cedar bench. Each element is crafted out of wire, heated and burned by hand onto the wood. This kind of work flexes the drawn line into a sculptural form and flattens it back down.

Friday, November 23, 2007

the aerial view

I've always been inspired by the capacity for the view from a plane to alter my perspective. Today's low sun revealed secrets that stunned me: spiderwebs blanketed the grass at the runway, shallow spots in the topography of the Puget Sound lit up, and the trees etched high contrast ground shadows.

This small sculpture means to suggest an aerial view writ small, the wonder of pattern and tilt, the intuitive form that reveals an order.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


and the presence of mind and body to recognize it.