Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dirt and Oak, both by William Bryant Logan

Yes, I read a book about dirt...and I would do it again.  This book was fascinating and magical.  Links and references are made to salt, sugar, scent, touch, birth, death, the human body, astrology and even architecture.  A few excerpts:

"A few inches down, it is pure black acrid matter having a  texture like a cross between cotton candy and damp sawdust.  This is the stuff from which all life on the land is born."

"The wealth of America is based on  the black soils of its prairies, whose broad, flat expanses are often compared to the sea."

"The hand is the symbol of the whole body.  It is the only part of us that is made both to give and receive, both to repel and to grasp."

Cathedrals - " their very weight intruded on the earth, insisting on bringing it into relations with the heavens." Often built with an underground crypt to store relics.

"There are only two things in the universe that require liquid water for their existence: organic life and clay."

"But without the ability to contain, as well as produce, no culture can be created.  To the inhabitants of the first cities, a warehouse was a miracle.  The first discover of settled life was that it was possible to save.  To preserve and to transport what had been preserved, it was necessary to have containers.  A cave had to be found; a house could be built.  A niche stayed where it was, but a pot could travel."

The last excerpt probably the most significant for me as it fuels my interest in objects.  Why we make them, why we give them away, why we have to touch and look at them.

Below is a piece I made in response to dirt.  The earth was cut in a perfect square; the soil was a deep, rich black, the blackness absorbed so much light, I thought, that is sparkled.  The scent was overpowering, fresh and invigorating.  I was searching for this experience, I just happened to come upon it.  The piece measures approx. 4 feet wide and 5 feet from top to farthest bottom.  It is made entirely out of yarn and is installed on the wall.

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