Looking for Inspiration - 2/10/2014

Today's blog entry was written by Paula Nixon of Santa Fe.  Paula writes write a nature blog called Black Raven Red Sneakers at paulanixon.com.  In response to our call for guest blogger here is what she had to say:

It was a bright cold Friday morning in late January. I had just a couple of hours before another plumber was due to show up to look at the crippled boiler in my garage, but I needed a break from the chilly house and the big pots of water that I had simmering on the gas range. My temporary desk at the kitchen table was a jumble of files, books, and, spiral-bound tablets filled with notes. I was researching half a dozen different ideas for my blog, but hadn’t succeeded in completing one of them all week. I turned off the burners and headed downtown.

The small courtyard at the New Mexico Museum of Art (NMMoA) was sunny, but the fountain was quiet. I didn’t know what I was looking for as I stepped into the first gallery, but I knew from past visits to the museum that I was likely to find something that would pique my curiosity and make me look at the world in a slightly different way. Upstairs I found the Collecting is Curiosity/Inquiry exhibit.

At the entry to the gallery was Ted Larsen’s stair-stepped block, sculpted out of sugar pine, beeswax, and pinyon sap. I resisted the urge to touch the bumpy, but smooth-looking surface of Sugar Daddy, wondering if it would feel warm or cool.

When I looked up I noticed a large circle on the back wall, framed by the decorative ceiling vigas and the rich brown tile floor. Intrigued, and curious about what it was made of, I walked closer and discovered butterflies.

Hundreds, no, thousands of the winged creatures in all shades of brown—mocha, khaki, sepia—arranged in a tightly coiled spiral. I looked closely to see if they were real and found they were made of paper. Butterflies, 26,645 of them, photocopied out of a field guide, hand cut, and dyed in coffee and tea. The mandala was created by Tasha Ostrander and is called Seventy-Three in a Moment. I studied the speckled wings up close and then stepped back for another look. Ostrander chose that very precise number of butterflies to represent the number of days in the average human lifespan (seventy-three years) at the time she made the piece. I had to pull myself away so I didn’t miss my appointment.

Back at home I sat down at the table and went to work, refreshed.

Collecting is Curiosity/Inquiry closed at the end of January, so I won’t be able to see the butterflies anytime soon (the piece is part of the NMMoA permanent collection), but I look forward to returning soon to see Gustave Baumann’s woodcut prints of aspen trees.

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