Snow Drawings – Toward Forward
What Haunts and Heals is Cumulative
Dunrovin’s 2017 Artist in Residence, Beth Huhtala, is an artist of the earth. It is clear that she truly inhabits wherever she is, and that wherever she is truly inhabits her. She becomes one with the natural world of wherever she finds herself. Lucky for us, she found herself living at Dunrovin for 10 days during one of the coldest and snowiest winters we have experienced in a long time. The cold, the snow, the river, and the animals who make their homes within all, seeped into Beth’s consciousness and flowed through her creative mind and spirit.
Arriving at Dunrovin, Beth journeyed out on multiple walkabouts: vigorous morning jaunts through deep snow along the river where she could see the birds congregating on the few leads of open water; quiet mid-day strolls on the bench overlooking the riparian corridor where she once was treated to the sight of a beautiful red fox bounding through snowdrifts; evening visits to the donkeys and ponies as they silently munched their hay, and where the resident barn rabbits revealed themselves; and multiple trips throughout the days to the birds feeders and the ospreys’ nest to breathe in the constant avian chatter.
These walks spent communing with Dunrovin’s environs and animals inspired Beth to partner with the animals and use nature itself to create playful artistic expressions. She also incorporated Dunrovin Ranch’s most unique technical man-made assets – its web cameras. Looking at the weather forecasts, Beth asked us to close off two pastures and our activity lawn, all of which were in full web camera view, to allow the falling snow to create a natural white canvas, free of equine footprints. Mother Nature cooperated fully. First, she gave us several inches of new snow, then topped it all off with a thin sheet of ice from a short period of freezing rain. A clean, crusted white sheet covered the three areas, looking exactly like tautly stretched canvasses on an artist’s frame.
With snowshoe-clad feet, Beth, drew whimsical bird, horse, and bunny designs in the snow. In one pasture, she spread two different varieties of bird seed to lure the birds into collaborating by flying in and adding their own footprints.
In the larger pasture, she hauled a sled filled with hay, then opened the gate to let Dunrovin mares Annie and Lady Lonza in to follow the hay trails and add their hoofprints. Dunrovin set the web cameras in a stationary spot to record the animals interacting with the drawings throughout the day, as the sun arched through the sky and day turned into night. The full days’ web-camera recordings were then edited into time-lapse videos, which perfectly illustrate Beth’s installation title, “What Haunts and Heals is Cumulative.”
“Cast in Flight, Invisible Lines Fallen to the
Ground, Shadows Fulfilling Hunger and Depicting Space”
“Even with All My Legs Bound, Tied up and
Immobilized by Tracks, Stuck Still and Waiting, I Race”
In addition to Beth’s outside art, she spent her evenings and the hours of darkness painting vivid kaleidoscopic paintings of the Dunrovin that swirled within her mind and heart. These paintings will ultimately be framed and displayed at Dunrovin during special events. They will, in fact, be a centerpiece of a community art project that Beth will host at Dunrovin on the day before Mother’s Day, May 13, 2017. Our Mother’s Field Day at Dunrovin will celebrate the mother/child bond by inviting mothers and their children to enjoy a day of horseback riding, yoga, fly fishing, and community art. Please join us on-site or online for that event!
We are most grateful to Beth for serving as our 2017 Artist in Residence. Her outdoor installations opened us up to new visions of what art is and how it helps us to envisage our place within the natural order. Collaborating with nature, partnering with animals, incorporating the sun’s path across the sky, and celebrating the ephemeral character of all of life, strengthens our understanding of our oneness with nature.
Beth is now moving to Red Lodge, Montana, where she will take her artistic sensibilities, zest for community involvement, and passion for nature to the Tippet Rise Art Center. We are eager to see what she accomplishes there, and we have thoughts of organizing a horseback expedition to her new corner of the world in the hopes of riding through their enchanting world where art and nature collide and fuse in partnership.