When my husband asked me if I wanted to go to the desert over this past holiday weekend, I didn't hesitate to say yes, even though we had just returned from three weeks in Tasmania and the past two weekends had been spent at Peach Tree Gallery. This trip would make it the 6th weekend in a row that we would not be home. If I had stopped to think about that for any amount of time, I may have responded differently to him. But "desert" and "road trip" are words I find hard to resist independently, let alone together, so I put aside the growing mental and paper to-do lists and instead set to work writing up a to-bring list.
I'm not sure what it is about the desert that I love so much but it calls to me like no other destination ~ and by that I mean it is the only place I feel compelled to experience and explore yet have absolutely no desire to set up permanent residence. The desert fascinates me. And scares me to death. It is sparse, stripped down to only the essentials (just the way I like to live my own life). And yet it teems with life and colors (just as my life does). There is no room for error here ~ forgiveness is an extravagance not often gifted. Indulgent complacency will get you killed. Yet the overwhelming details of the desert ~ from its expansiveness to its minutia ~ leave no sense unused, unstimulated, or unsatisfied.
The desert is probably the most inhospitable place to marble. Dry heat makes the bath worthless. Sand, which is inescapable inside or out, makes the bath worthless. The wind, with nothing to stop it or even slow it down, makes the bath worthless. I know marblers who live in the desert who make it work (in fact, I first learned to marble in Santa Fe, N.M.). And Southern California isn't exactly a rainforest. But the weather conditions of the extreme desert only add insult to injury when combined with the challenges of marbling as a whole.
But oh my goodness ~ the patterns one finds in the desert. The patterns in the 10-million-year-old sandstone walls, the six-million-year-old layer of crushed oyster shells, the 12-million-year-old badlands, and even in the washes from the previous night's rain. For me, it's the patterns that connect the desert to marbling.
I made the above piece this summer and decided to call it "Follow the Slot Canyon Home." I rarely title my pieces, preferring not to taint the viewer's interpretation of my work. But when I pulled this off the bath, the first thing that came to mind were the slot canyons of the desert ~ and memories of undulating bedrock, fluid shapes, and smooth canyon walls peppered with small rocks in various colors warmed my heart and brought a smile to my face. Even though I hadn't been to the desert in over a year when I made this piece, I could clearly recall these images as if it were yesterday.
When Emmett and I were driving through Fish Creek Wash this weekend, I pointed to this canyon wall pictured above and exclaimed, "This! This is the flashback I had when I pulled that one marbled piece from the bath this summer!" In good-husband fashion, Emmett said, "Oh, yeah!" before pausing and cautiously asking, "Wait, which piece?"
Oh, Emmett ~ thanks for playing anyway! I hope this post clears things up for you! (And thanks for a magnificent weekend!)
"Follow the Slot Canyon Home" is available for purchase here.