If one finds a rock boring, it’s not the rock’s fault.” (Attributed to Zen proverb)

During August, 2021, I spent a week at a rented beach house on mid-coast Maine.  One afternoon, while scrambling among rocks strewn along the beach, I was attacked by hordes of black flies.  I found a breezy refuge on a large promontory boulder that overlooked the pounding surf.  Though my temporary perch must have weighed well over a ton, it rocked gently but perceptibly as waves advanced and receded.  Gazing across the horizon, I was lulled into a meditative reverie about what I might learn from the diverse rocks along the shore.

Turns out that my beach house was built on a fragment of a proto-continent called Avalonia, which originated well below the equator almost one billion years ago.  Avalonia is named after a peninsula in the Canadian province of Newfoundland, though its geological characteristics are found on both sides of the Atlantic.  I learned that Avalonia’s tectonic trajectory through time and space is quite complicated, merging and separating from other land masses every few hundred million years, a process that will continue.


Exhibit at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Center, Frederick, Maryland and 11 Minute Video

I created a photo essay loosely based on “snapshots” of Avalonia’s convoluted trajectory.  The essay is being exhibited at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Center in Frederick Maryland this January and February.  The essay consists of 15 digital photographic enlargements, using dye sublimation on metal.  To suggest the passing of deep time in these images, I use long exposures with intentional camera movement.  The resulting semi-abstractions of beach landscapes are intended as visual metaphors for sometimes violent geologic events.

The wall mounted images are accompanied by a video that compresses one billion years into eleven minutes.  To see the video click on the “Click for this Resource” button above!  It is narrated by the boulder on which I perched, as a device for portraying Earth’s effort to communicate with us.  It is an open question how many visitors to the exhibit will have the patience to watch the full video.

In developing this exhibit, I hope to stimulate viewers’ to reflect that our sense of stability and change is commonly limited by what we can perceive.  Rather than relying on persuasion and data to communicate how aggregate human actions are disrupting natural systems and cycles, this work seeks to shift viewers’ consciousness through the boulder’s soliloquy.


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