shelter/media (working title) – Winter 2015 (work in progress)

It began before I ever knew I would move to New York. It was a strange necessity, the unsettled disease. Except there was never any cure it seemed. Or more to the point, the cure was depicted, weekly, monthly, illustrated, described in detail, but obtaining this cure seemed elusive.

The story of ‘home’ has been weaving through consciousness my whole life – never any more intensely than the 20 years I lived in New York City, always finding a gap between the life I imagined and the life I experienced. In NYC especially, the story of this gap, fiercely felt by so many, finds itself told in the pages of the New York Times Home & Garden and Real Estate sections. Which recently were merged. Home is no longer it’s own story, but has been subsumed into Real Estate.

Examining my experience of ‘home’ as I’ve traveled nomadically the last two years I’ve felt that sense that it’s very hard to imagine the home without the environment – i.e., the home within one’s own basic being. Realized individuals in the different spiritual traditions have a strong ability to be at home anywhere, but speaking for myself, environment – home, town, community, earth – are entwined deeply with my sense of well-being.  I’ve begun to parse some of the feelings of what the obsession with the material trappings of home both celebrates and obscures about living on this earth, at this moment – and have moved into mixed-media explorations to further this inquiry. Below are some images of work I began making during a winter 2015 retreat in Margaree Harbour – a small village in Cape Breton Nova Scotia.

In the many ways we think about “home”, I realized a strong yet subtle aspect is protection, armor.  We armor ourselves through creating a home environment that protects us from the world. Or we armor ourselves through creating a home that supports our engagement with the world. So often the impulse (for me anyway) is to augment and tinker with the physical environment of home – to be in the ideal apartment, ideal neighborhood, with the objects that most reflect back to me some sense of accomplishment, or wisdom, or brilliance.  It becomes a materialistic pursuit very quickly. Hence the easy, troubling alliance with shelter media – images of some ideal just out of reach, yet seemingly accessible, ‘if only’.

In making armor I’m exploring what it means to create a shield between myself and the world through a form that can display these images of desired “ideals”. I’m also interested in resurrecting the connections with the history of this armor and seeing what if any parallels there are between its function in Renaissance society and how I’m appropriating it now.

 

 

Cape Breton Snow/Sky

April, 2015

Since working with Joel Meyerowitz, I’ve been mesmerized by the horizon. His classic “Bay/Sky” images inspired my photography both in the Hudson Palisades series and here in Cape Breton. I hadn’t intended to focus on photography during my time here, but as I looked through my casual daily shots, I realized there was something happening.

Winter on the west coast of Cape Breton is subtle in its beauty but sharp in its elemental push. There are hundreds here in the glory of summertime who vacate in September, leaving behind  hardy souls who look at the intrepid visitor with surprise and not a little bewilderment. Winds whip through the highlands or off the Gulf of St Lawrence approaching hurricane speeds and drive continuously changing weather throughout the day. On those days, the temperature can swing 40 degrees (farenheit) in less than an hour. Once the sea ice fills the Gulf, however, the winds become tamed, the sun is out more, and there’s a quietude pierced only occasionally by the caw of crows, the whine of weekend snowmobiles or the relentless scrape of the snowplow on the Cabot trail. More images at www.susantylerjenkins.com.

March 6, top of the Shore road in Margaree Harbour.