Monday, October 12, 2015

Junkie

by Carol



 " As long as we stay locked in this idea that creativity can only be born through suffering sacrifice pain and torment, it will always be born through (those), but when we open ourselves up to the idea that it can be  done joyfully, collectively, lovingly, forgivingly; then that’s the work that you make”  Liz Gilbert


One word jumps out of this quote for me - COLLECTIVELY.  That's because once again in my photography experience, I have lived with, loved and learned from a talented collection of diverse people. I was once accused of being a "workshop junkie." I denied it at the time, but now, I have to admit that it's true, and that I am proud to be one. I am in the process of returning from "Voices on the Wind," a workshop sponsored by the Biodiversity Research Institute, a part of the Nature Conservancy,  and facilitated by Kim Manley Ort, Deb McKew, and Adelaide Tyrol.

Many of you know that I joined Kim last year for a magical experience on Star Island, New Hampshire and fell (even more) in love with Contemplative Photography. But this year had something different. For subject matter, we had the Research Lab, who's goal it is to "better understand the factors limiting bird populations." And, not surprisingly, their limiting factors eventually effect many other species, including us. We got to witness these dedicated  conservationists, field biologists, and naturalists do their preservation work geotagging Peregrin Falcons, Merlins and other raptors whose wing shape and weight allow long open water journeys. to gather information about their migratory behaviors. These scientists also lovingly work to preserve songbirds and their habitats.Through capturing, banding, collecting blood and feather samples, they can discover contaminants such as mercury and previously DDT. While these were known to be present in water, and thus water feeding birds, they are now aware that songbirds who eat land prey are also exposed, because of our increasing contamination of the planet.


The Salt Marsh

The Raptor Station

The Songbird Station


Block Island is the perfect place to study these species because it is one of the last refueling points before the birds migrate the vast miles to their wintering locations.(A recent Peregrin traveled to Columbia in just over one month!)  Nestled under the red roofs of  the Victorian Spring House Hotel, circa 1852, we studied on a sunny glassed in porch, trekked the many hiking paths through wildflower fields that could rival Oz, atop bluffs overlooking the ocean, and along beaches of crystal green and blue looking across the salt 
marshes.


The Spring House Hotel




But for me, the true difference in this workshop was the concept that artists, writers and photographers could come together to show that art of all kinds can send a message to the world about important issues. Equally important was the artistic inspiration that occurred when the artists tried to write or photograph, the photographers tried their hand at painting and story-telling, and the writers took pictures and made nature sketches. Our teachers were wonderful at facilitating each skill, giving us gradual introductions to each discipline that allowed us to lose the fear of trying new things. We did 5 second sketches where we were not allowed to look at our papers or lift our pencil from the page. We tried "cluster writing" where collecting lists of descriptive words and vivid verbs helped us create a composition. We sketched our photographic subjects and wrote about them before we were allowed to photograph them. Thus, each participant slowly began to recognize that they actually could draw or paint or photograph or write. Our inner critics, and rule-givers were quieted, and our trial ventures became huge successes.



Then there was the generosity between participants. Each person there obviously had a deep love for their particular process, and each enthusiastically demonstrated that love by encouraging others. As we sat and watched watercolor paintings materialize, the artist would say - "here - you try it."  Photographers helped with camera settings creative cropping and computer uploads, while writers helped ideas congeal to add to our images or paintings. Even the scientists got into the game, thanking us for showing them art that took them "out of their science bubble" and reminded them of the beauty they work with day in and day out. 



And as if that weren't enough - we were simultaneously communing with nature! We each got to release songbirds into the sky and back to their lives. We watched raptors being tossed up into the air, flapping joyfully back to their familiar, and discovered sea creatures crawling and swimming through their clear blue worlds. Add to that the force of a passing hurricane and the crystal clear skies and calm waters following it, and we were the luckiest creatures of all! Workshop junkie - yes please -  but I prefer to call myself a life junkie!








(photo credit:Kim Manley Ort)











12 comments:

Dotti said...

What a truly magical experience to see beautiful Block Island (I'm an East Coast coastal junkie!) and participate in the unlikely marriage of such diverse disciplines. Bravo, Carol! Releasing that wee bird had to be an emotional experience. And that sunset ... be still my heart.

Lisa Clarke said...

What an amazing weekend that sounds like!

kelly said...

oh my gosh carol. wow. how amazing to be in the presence of so many wonderful, diverse art forms in such a magical setting. thank for sharing this inspirational experience!

sherrygaley.com said...

Kudos to Kim and company for creating such a life-changing experience -- she is a true pioneer in my book! And to you and the others for your courage in stretching your other creative muscles. It must have been heaven. I hope to join a workshop like this one day...

heyjudephotography said...

Carol, this sounds like a truly magical experience, and you've put it to pen (computer) so well. I actually got tears in my eyes watching your short video of you releasing the song bird! I hope your inspiration and creative juices keep flowing for many weeks to come after this experience!

terriporter said...

Oh, my, what a wonderful experience that must have been! Getting together with other creative people, regardless of their art of choice, can serve to light a fire in your soul and make you realize how important to your happiness creativity is. That location looks magical and I'm sure you came back both rested and energized. Thank you so much for recording it and sharing it with all of us.

kimmanleyort said...

Oh Carol. how wonderful to hear about the workshop through your unique lens! You worked hard to get this out so soon. Aren't deadlines great? It was, for sure, a magical experience for me too and I want to do more of this. The potential for linking science and art is blowing my mind. Also, the synergy you described so well of the different mediums working together.

Deanna said...

Darn, I left a comment, but it didn't take for some reason, so I will try and duplicate what I said. An incredible experience for you and those that participated in this learning, sharing, participating workshop. How fortunate that you were able to be a part of this wonderful experience. How fun to blend all of your talents together.

Nancy said...

What an amazing adventure this must have been for you. To work along side artist in other art forms must have been incredible. I loved the video of you releasing the song bird...Definitely a heart moment.....

Patricia Turner said...

What a wonderful experience you all had! I wish I could have been there. Seeing this linking of approaches only enriches your own view of the world. Block Island is a magical place.

Carol said...

I wish you could have too Patricia.! I kept thinking that you would have loved it! Hopefully, it will be offered again.....

sallylucywrites.com said...

I love this posting, Carol! Block Island was magical for me. I loved each and every minute of the experience. Meeting the scientists and artists was the best part of all. You wrapped it all up perfectly here in this blog. Keep photographing, keep writing, and keep smiling while you are joining groups! Sally

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