Many natural and man-made objects rise to the surface of a Maine field. Rocks are the obvious ones, and at the time that this part of the coast was farmland, rocks were piled in walls along the boundary lines. Even now, rocks continue to surface with every winter frost, and the litter of stones, boulders, and pea sized gravel across my piece of property is a reminder that once this area was a mile under a glacier’s ice. The Drinkwaters, who kept cattle here in the last century, added their used machinery to the rock wall, and in the past year, we have fetched up, for instance, inner tube tires preserving 1920’s air, a still shiny Sterling truck hubcap, a rusted out carjack, and yards of barbed wire. There’s more to come. My neighbor has a wheel and axle set which when turned on end is a dharma wheel waiting for prayer flags.
Each of these products of industry partakes of wabi sabi, that Zen concept of the singular and melancholic in art. The rust, the organic color, the minimal form, are all reminders of the passage of time and the transience of existence. One of my discoveries – and I have no idea what its original purpose was – is a bowl-shaped piece of metal that can be held in the hand. It has the simple elegance of raku pottery. As a form, it asks the viewer to collaborate with its original maker and the processes of the natural world, in re-creating it as a piece of art. Explanations of wabi sabi and postulations on the relocation of art from the viewed object to the collaboration between art and the observer require many words. More pleasure is to be had pondering the fundamentality of a well-worn rock or an all-day every-day hubcap.
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