A branch-inspired series: Spiritus Naturalis


Marsh Slyph





For me, a studio series starts naturally after I’ve been focused on other creative efforts for a while. I return to the artistic nest ready to embrace a lingering new material or aesthetic direction, open to what serves the exploration. It’s an unabashed act of optimism, knowing from experience that the initial endeavors may well be backtracked, reconsidered, perhaps jettisoned as the gist of the work emerges.

It’s an exquisite arc from adventurous curiosity to starting a new artful family—fueled by showing up daily and leaning into the journey of tasks inherent in a practice of making. I count among my gifts a romantic’s fondness for the beauty of honest labor, and a monk’s inclination to stillness: listening, watching, inviting.

Walk in the Wild is the lone survivor of the earlier explorations for this new series, Spiritus Naturalis. I wondered at the time if this new direction would evolve into works that don’t emit light, and for now it is so. 





Along the way of initial discovery, there’s a piece that turns out to be definitional. It’s an evolutionary leap in the work that brings to focus the hazy potential lingering about, quickens the heart with realization of others of its ilk yearning to come through. The pivotal piece in this series was Marsh Sylph.

I was several pieces into the exploration before realizing this family of works were embodiments of nature spirits. Sylph has long been a term for imaginary spirits of air and earth, and I love its poetic lilt.     






The fleshy, sensual Madrona trees on the island provide branches ideal for playing with creature form. The process of reimagining and rearranging them reveals the nature of each piece.

Introducing the copper tendrils with their pod-like tips allows me to integrate
spiraling elements that seem intelligent and curious with the wonderfully odd wildness of the branch forms. 






At roughly 6' tall, Marsh Sylph has a heron-like feel. I readily imagine it wading out in the marshlands, at home with the grasses and reeds.