bluesphere November 19, 2010

This image taken by NASA astronauts is said to have changed our world view--It was made famous by being on the cover of the first Whole Earth Catalogue published in 1968. Gaia

We all have very little time–So we must do everything as slowly as possible.

A Zen Buddhist Koan

my studio in the light from a fall afternoon

Last Saturday morning I was  home and  felt in my bones the privilege of being lazy.  Outside, the sunlight glowed in yellow ribbons through the leaves which are still on the trees.  Since I last posted I have been at work in Charleston, SC and Madison, WI, with a side-trip to Chicago along the way.  I have done my neighborhood art walk and moved into my old backyard shed, which has been transformed into my “new” studio.  This studio is tiny, like a ship’s galley.  Each afternoon when home, if I am lucky, I find the time to leave my computer and my phone behind and make the trip down my back steps to the small building 20 feet from my house, settled in my backyard, and get lost in my work as a sculptor.  These days I am a maker of small brown birds and other backyard wildlife.
So much has happened.  I have traveled a lot of miles, on the road and in the air.  I have met and talked with many people.  I have seen old friends and made new ones.

"bluesphere" mandala in process--Addlestone Library, Charleston, NC (approximately 28' x 28')

This week I made a trip to Lexington, NC, and next week I go back to Charleston to take down my bottle cap Mandala, which was a part of “bluesphere: earth art expo” curated by Mark Sloan of The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. All this moving about, with coming home in between, has made me think more than ever about this great big “bluesphere” where we are all living, hurrying about doing our jobs of eating and breathing, learning and looking–and always the world is turning. Most recently in the western hemisphere, especially around Durham, NC, the place that I call home, night and day, day and night, the summer is turning into fall, which brings yellow maple leaves glowing on the side walks and brown oak leaves filling my yard.

During my travels, I have spoken with a lot of people about my mission to have a plastic-free year.  People have been curious and mostly (I think) inspired.  I have learned so much this year about what we

plastic cups thrown away in 6 hours of airline travel in the USA by artist Chris Jordan from his series "Running the Numbers"

produce, use once and never again–all of this single-use plastic.  When I began this year, I had no idea that this journey would become such a passion for me.  Sometimes when I hear myself talking, I sound shrill….a little over the top–way left of center.  Okay, I say to myself, “Let’s take a deep breath here.  Slow down…”

When I was in South Carolina working on my mandala I met the inspired artist Chris Jordan, who among other things has chronicled our usage of STUFF–its quantity in a very powerful way–in his series Running the Numbers. A few weeks ago when I called Muriel Williman, the Education Specialist for Chapel Hill, NC Solid Waste, to check my statistics before I gave an artist talk, she told me,”We are at the beginning of our awareness of this plastic thing.”  At the beginning of our awareness of the magnitude of our over-use of plastics everywhere, all of the time.

About a month ago, a friend from Switzerland sent me a link to the West Coast artist Dianna Cohen speaking about tough truths on plastic pollution. Simply and clearly she urges us to pay attention, and tells how she has reduced plastic in her own life.  Among other things she urges us to add a 4th R to the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra–REFUSE–If you have a minute click the link above and listen.

Because of NASA we can see the world as a ball, floating in space.  Really, a tiny speck in the vast space in which it spins.  Have you ever held a tadpole or a small fish live in your hands, so that you could see its heartbeat and almost the coursing of blood through its veins–a live thing held together by a thin translucent layer of skin, bone and muscle?  To me, that is what our planet earth looks like from so far away.  A live ball pulsing and breathing with all of the oceans and rivers and species of live things living just under its skin.

Today I listened to Salman Rushdie talking about his new book Luka and the Fire of Life on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR.  He said that here on earth we humans are the only species that tell stories to each other.  We read books.  We watch movies.  We tell each other the things we feel are most important.

Here is the story I have heard more than once this month from artists Chris Jordan and Dianna Cohen.  There is so much plastic floating in our oceans now that we cannot possibly clean it up.  Not until we stop the rapid constant flow of it from our rivers to the sea. The plastics we “use once” are flowing into the oceans at an alarming rate. Because of this, birds and other sea creatures are dying.  As humans, we need to tell this story.  They cannot.

dead baby albatross with his stomach full of plastic. Chris Jordan–“Message from the Gyre”
Bree Kalb December 7th, 2010

Hi Bryant–We talked in the kitchen at Doug and Pat’s party. This was sent today on the listserve for “Transition Carrboro-CH”…a video about a scientist in Japan who is converting plastic back into oil. I did a brief web search to see what has been said about the process. Not much, but it doesn’t seem to be a scam. Thought of you, since I subscribe to your blog. — Bree

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Bryant December 7th, 2010

Bree–Yes–I have seen this and sent it about a bit. I do not think it is a scam either. The question would be how much it costs versus the output. He wants kids to know that plastic has value. I find it very interesting.
meanwhile, I have been thinking about your questions about art supplies. You might be happy with wheat paste and methyl cellulose as your glues–I use such a combination. All the best and thanks for your thoughts and energy towards the heath of our environment

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