Camp-er Tree Life

I am intrigued, yet saddened by our most recent camp spot. (See my previous post about the meaning behind this photo project.) After picking up trash bags worth of crap from this site, including burned shoes, bottles, diapers, metal chair parts, shell casings and tin cans, it was actually quite nice. Well used, but not well loved, my husband and I tried to make it better.  The past few weeks, I feel I have been inadvertently training my eye to catch all the little trails of history people have left in the trunks of the trees at these sites. How, for example, did I ever find a small nail, holding what appears to be old wires in a tree facing the river, not even near to where someone might put up a tarp, tent or even festive lights? Why is this even there? I can’t really blame boredom for some of the peoples’ actions, although I guess I did a fair amount of mucking about in my teenage years. I still don’t ‘get’ vandalism, or really even leaving trash anywhere. I admit, sometimes I feel like I just go for the negative by scouring the camp spots when we arrive. Once I find the disturbing, yet curious defacing, document it and process it, I find I can relax into the place and try to remain emphatic about the people that were there before me. Sometimes all I can think about is “what is wrong with people”, like when I find a not-so-hidden ‘swatstika’ burned into the trunk of a tree. But other times I wonder how many lanterns have hung off such strategically placed nails and what events have been witnessed by all the living things there. We all try to reconnect to something out there… whether its our families, our youth, ‘rewilding’ ourselves or just plain old fresh air.

Progress… ‘Don’t Shoot’

Hey folks… I wanted to send along some more digital photos as a project update. I continue to photograph the state of the trees at each dispersed camp I visit with my film camera, while living in the national forest with my husband. I have been able to get some amazing close-ups, even with cloudy, rainy days. I enjoy the process of studying the trees so much! Yesterday, I spent a good part of my day looking hard at a few trees in my campsite and poking around in the woods in general; sniffing here and there and investigating who had come before me. Some items in the woods surprised me, such as an amazingly colorful old propane tank, a collection of broken ceramic mugs, house wood moulding, a lightbulb, and a bottle of Listerine. Things that did not surprise me of course: shot up beer cans, used baby diapers, empty bottles of really bad whiskey, shotgun shells and crushed plastic water bottles. All of these items were found pretty deep in the woods, which also was puzzling to me. Thanks for reading.

Dispersed Camping Tree Stories

This upcoming photographic series is dedicated to the trees I have seen on my recent adventures in the dispersed camping areas of Oregon. Most of this series will be shot on film, but I thought I would include a few digital photos to give folks an idea of the project.

Packing up our belongings, storing some but taking much of what we own with us, my husband and I decided to leave Portland and explore many of the back roads and remote areas along several key rivers. We travel and camp along these by-ways, trying to re-discover ourselves, searching for ideas and examples of “Home” in the forests and habitats which many other species dwell. I will be documenting the condition of the trees where we camp each night.

I was first intrigued by modern human artifacts when I embarked on a solo coastal backpacking trip a few years back. My curiosity grew to concern, however, after finding so much trash and seeing so many trees damaged in many back-country camping areas. My worry is for the health of the trees and our species alike. What does it say about us humans that when we venture to a peaceful setting, we shoot, stab, cut, chop, stake, carve, tie and strip the very forest area we go to enjoy? Is it our supposed separation from these environments or ourselves that makes it easy to do this? Is it frustration with our plastic over-working economic gain-based world? Is it just as easy to pound a stake into a tree as it is to dump paint or old tires into our water sources? Do our constant heinous logging techniques make these actions pale in comparison, or just illuminate an overarching colonial attitude of conquer and control? I don’t believe we can categorize this behavior only as pure thoughtlessness or drunken irresponsibility. In the coming months, I hope to find out through investigation and tree stories, just what these cruel messages can teach us. At the very least, bring some of the behavior to light, in a sort of ‘ground-truthing’ photo experiment. More to come…

PDX: Art Reception

5th season art show 023

Where there is BLUEMAN, there is life… Thank you to everyone who came to my art opening in the beginning of December and who wished me well. I am happy with the turn-out and the conversations which have been generated by my work. The physical arrangement of the pieces is even better than my conception of it. Thank you to Billy and Emily for helping me hang the show.

The Blueman has had quite the impact. At first, I worried this entity would overshadow the rest of my pieces; but has served to enhance and cohere the show in great un-imagined turns. The addition of the BLUE-MAN-I-FESTO, (see my earlier Artword blog entry) posted underneath his form on the wall, has been an excellent starting point of explanation and exploration for people. Overheard: conversations about childhood, the environment, spirits coming to others in their dreams, creatures in the ocean, growing older, nostalgia and the ultimate complementary question in an artists’ life, “What is ART?”.

A big thank you must go out to Anja, the owner of Miss Zumstein for hosting my artwork and lovely reception, complete with snacks! I really appreciate the support of all my friends and neighbors. Most of the work you see here is for sale, (some sold). Please leave a comment for me if you are interested in purchasing. Any photo you see on my website, film or digital, can be enlarged to your specifications, matted, custom framed etc. Feel free to inquire. A humble thanks, again.

December 2015 Art Show: PDX

 

‘An Exploration of the Fifth Season…’   by Spencer Fisher  …Photographs and Wall Sculptures

If anyone happens to be in Portland-town any time during the month of December, I will be showing some new work at Miss Zumstein Bakery and Coffee Shop (5027 NE 42nd Ave, Portland, OR 97218). The opening reception is SATURDAY, December 5th, from 4-6, whereby we will celebrate with drinks, snacks and the much anticipated unveiling of the BLUEMAN SUIT. Some of the work I have posted about in the last few months will be included in this show, but much of it is new. Let’s see what more we can learn…

The following is my artist statement for this upcoming show. Thank you to all who have made this possible.

What is the ‘Fifth Season’?

The Fifth Season is at once the actual time signature of my second round of being in Portland and an addendum season to the four we are used to. In that regard, the Fifth Season is described as our emotional season, or our response to the peaks and valleys of our existence, through time. This can mean taking shelter during turbulence, or it can mean opening up to difficulties and seeking learning, acceptance and atonement—as an agreement of being human: I will be curious, move forward with respect and allow change.

As humans and artists, we all have the capacity to create lightening at any given time, even from dormancy. As a seed pushes up with seemingly no agenda except to live and fulfill a cirque of energy, I am trying to achieve this.

I have found a stride of work I am continually fascinated with. Photography, drawing, painting, making sculptures, sewing and music—all investigations really—these help me create relevance and remind me to value the gifts of each day. My methodology includes using essences of travel, dreams, studying relationships and found objects. My art then offers this vehicle for thought exploration and different ways of paying attention.

The Fifth Season also offers a chance at intimacy, if we let it. As humans, we have a lot of investigating to do of our place on Earth—our place in the galaxy. We have issues with object relationships and how we relate to one another. How we deal with our trash, for example, or ‘invasive’ species, ocean and river pollution, or war, says a lot about our willingness to evolve, ignore or control. My nature is to continually try to make things better along the way, but sometimes it is necessary only to breathe and to listen.

Definition of Season:

  1. one of the four periods of the year (spring,summer, autumn, and winter), beginning astronomically at an equinox or solstice, but geographically at different dates in different climates.
  2. a period of the year characterized by particular conditions of weather, temperature, etc.: the rainy season.
  3. a period of the year when something is best or available: the oyster season.
  4. any period or time: in the season of my youth.

Welcome to LifeofSpence: ArtWord

Greetings! Welcome to my new website. I consider myself to be an environmental artist. Primarily a photographer and sculptor, I also draw, paint, write poetry and music. I focus on using salvage material and/or found objects whenever possible to cultivate relationships which emphasize our connection to the Earth as co-creators and tenders. I love being outdoors and use inspiration from my backpacking and fishing adventures to create art. Some of the things you see here on the website are for sale, such as photographic prints, and I am open to commissions and collaboration. (Please contact me to inquire about ordering). I am also currently looking for a publisher for my poetry manuscript, “Cactus Blooms”. Thank you for visiting and supporting the livelihoods of artists!

Current Project: As Much Again

This current project came about for me in the editing room. I usually take several shots when working with digital photography, but sometimes I will only take two shots when working with actual film. The lighting and framing through my lens changes, but the subject theme remains the same. I am thrilled to offer these perspectives as an echo of the different ways we see the world. Our viewpoint is always an interpretation–light, time, mood, history, distance–these can influence how we see as much as equipment or angle. The pairs were taken back-to-back in a single exploratory time period.