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Un Abbraccio dalla Terra

Posted on: Monday, September 04, 2006

Fuga 04, Abigail Doan, 2006

An Embrace from the Earth

I have finally returned to Manhattan after weeks of summer toil at Linari, the family’s home a few kilometers outside of Siena, Italy. My blogpage lay fallow during my absence, but I must confess that it was a delight to be offline for a bit -- rooted instead in the chores of garden work and our farmhouse’s restoration.

My husband Ludmil and I moved and stacked a myriad of 'pietra serena' stones and old ‘casa colonica’ bricks during our stay, leveraging our way into a shape-based system for archiving future building materials. One boulder proved to be so obstinate that we contemplated turning it into a Japanese garden with eddies of raked sand around the periphery. We were finally able to budge this ‘roccia impossibile’ one afternoon, post-siesta, with submission to its greatness and lasting fidelity to the Tuscan soil. I must confess that Ludmil was the laborer most dedicated to this rock piling task, as he circled the stack of stones everyday like a nervous pheasant on the property bent on creating the most perfect stash of materials for ‘il nido permanente'.

Art-making while farming and clearing Tuscan fields and hillsides takes on a different spin than that of prescribed studio time in NYC. Creative projects are wedged into random spaces in the day, perhaps in the same manner that valuable rocks are identified, nudged, and stacked like unformed ideas poking through a soil that one knows to be decent enough to work with and nurture.

Abbraccio 01, Abigail Doan, 2006

Working with garlands of paper and crocheted fiber feels so weightless after dragging chestnut branches through waist high grasses and pricker bushes. There is a clarity and lightness to soft and airy materials that unfurl as the embodiment of one’s art ideas and visual desires. Beams of light find their way to one’s installations so effortlessly and generously in Tuscany. Every crumbling texture still has a purpose. Creative urban angst melts away like the disappearance of the gnawing hunger one has on sitting down to that first farm meal following a transatlantic flight.

Visitatione 02, Abigail Doan, 2006

Is art-farming an oxymoron? Farming alone seems to be the most consuming endeavor imaginable. Why layer on the struggles of developing a body of art work while there is so much farm work to get done? Perhaps there is something liberating from knowing that satisfying creative work is often enhanced by labor, and inspiration is something you snatch like a quick nap after lunch or while tottering on a ladder to secure a thorny rose vine to an ancient brick wall. The soft and the hard invite you in and craftily envelope you like the hold of a stubborn rock nestled in fertile, all-knowing soil.


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