Project Highlight | Walking Libraries (2016-2019)

Project Highlight | Walking Libraries

Paradise Etched in Stone

Posted on: Monday, December 18, 2006

My Iranian artist friend, Dr. Ahmad Nadalian, carved these beautiful stones as seals or stamps that one can actually print from. Dr. Nadalian frequently travels to the desert of Central Iran with his art students and colleagues. If only peace in the New Year was ensured by the exchange of such genuine craftsmanship, resourcefulness, and good will.

For more information on Dr. Ahmad Nadalian's work, visit his website.

Resuscitating Sacro Bosco

Posted on: Friday, July 14, 2006

Bomarzo, the garden underworld of Duke Vicino Orsini, was created over the course of thirty-five years as a dig to the Renaissance ideals of orderliness, symmetry, and proportion. This extensive landscape folly began (c. 1552) with a conventional grotto, nymphaeum, and theatre complex and quickly deviated into a rambling menagerie of moss and lichen-covered forms shape shifting into allegorical dragons, lions, sleeping nymphs, sphinxes, and even the otherworldly triumvirate of Cerberus, Persephone, and Demeter.

Vicino Orsini was born in 1513 to an ancient noble family with a castle overlooking the village of Bomarzo. As a professional soldier with literary and romantic infatuations, the Duke was compelled to incorporate into his garden’s design violent imagery from his personal life as well as dark interpretations of classical works and poetry. His unorthodox combination of gardening as both catharsis and irreverence makes for an odd mixture of vegetal jeux d’esprit entwined with a nightmarish descent into the terror of nature’s life cycles.

Upon visiting Bomarzo in 1949, Salvador Dali commented that he had found surrealism on a scale he could not have imagined. Sacro Bosco today is a place for unfettered discovery, marvel, and carpeted reflection. One still cannot escape, though, the presence of statuary that appears to be on the brink of historical resuscitation and gaping green revolt.

01020 Bomarzo, Italia
15km from Viterbo, off the A1
Tel. (00 39) 761 924029
open daily from 8:30am to dusk

Camouflage and Meditation

Posted on: Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Is meditation a means to hide from, merge with, or simply survive in the landscape of contemporary life? Exposing the heart of one's creative intentions is a terrifying prospect for many of us. Evolutionary adaptations like camouflage allows for concealment from prey and predators. Visual trickery in this instance outsmarts overt acts of violence and thuggery. The art world, in all its free-range, meandering activity, can be a brutal landscape. 

One cannot deny that an exoskeleton forms after years of sticking with it and staying true to one's self. It becomes increasingly difficult to spill forth ideas and exist in a world that feels less than natural and grounding.

In moments of self-doubt, I turn to the wisdom of meditation practitioner Sally Kempton and the imagery of artist Beverly Semmes. Throughout her career Semmes has explored the theme of body and landscape, richly textured ideas about absence and presence, and to use Kempton's words, 'the secrets of what it means to love the life you are meant to live.' 

How else might one discover purposefulness without the haven of a safe perch, a custom-made protective cloak, or the safe-zone of a retrofitted pod? Life can spill forth when the beautiful and the grotesque can co-exist, when prey and the preyed upon are in harmony, when the inner and outer realms mesh in an exaggeration of mysterious grace. Breathability and protection are indeed one in the same.

Homespun Inspiration

Posted on: Monday, April 17, 2006

Returning home during the first signs of spring takes on special meaning with my family. My mother is generally waiting for the arrival of new lambs and my father's list of post-winter repair tasks is long. Despite the toll that winter storms take in upstate New York, there is always a renewed optimism about personal projects and the land. My mother, Abigail, is a handspinner and fiber artist who spent most of her summers as a young girl tending to sheep on a small island off the coast of central Maine. She was the daughter of an eccentric zoologist and a bookish botanist, yet her involvement with nature and the seasons was always intuitive and 'homespun practical' on some level. Her patience for putting together the ideal flock was further developed during her time as a dedicated dairy farmer and entrepreneurial sheepherder with my father, James. Today she has a hand-picked flock of fourteen Leicester Cross sheep and a miniature donkey who proudly serves as the resident shepherd and off-tune watch dog.

There is something uniquely special about sneaking into your artist mother's studio –especially when she is nowhere in sight. It is not only being privy to someone else's creative process but perhaps also an insight into the source of your own aesthetic leanings and tendencies. This is not to say that a direct stylistic correlation exists. However, one cannot deny that 'the warp and weft' of one's personal philosophy begins with this material. The miniature still lives that abound are evidence perhaps that there is still life in what you remember to be lasting and real in a world that often seems to be fleeting and unraveling at the core.

Abigail McEnroe's luxuriously handspun wool products and Nuno felted fibers can be found at MeriMac Farm in Garrattsville, NY, not far from the Cooperstown Leatherstocking region. Abigail's studio e-mail is

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