In American Village I, I set out to express my experience of being on my own block. I wanted to combine the feeling of the Coburg Ridge and the Douglas-fir in my front yard with the busy, distracting, unsettling feeling of the busy city street on which I live. In my own yard, I often feel bombarded by the noise of the city, yet when I get centered and focus on those huge, natural spirits of the mountains and my friend the Douglas-fir, I can find balance. For me, living in an American village is all about finding balance from minute to minute, day to day.
I like how the abstract, flat, two-dimensional nature of the city street and the crazy-patch pieces create a feeling of dissonance or unbalance. The line where the crazy patch pushed into the boundaries of the central house’s yard added a lovely feeling of that ever present push of city energy, commercialism, and business. They’re not comfortable, but I think I could have potentially pushed that discomfort level further. I like how the billboards in the background add to the dissonance, like they’re up there shouting for attention.
I liked the off-balance nature of the house. It’s somewhat primitive piecing structure speaks to the way in which our natural selves are often seen as childlike and unrefined in the context of the greater city and civilized culture. I love the tree’s form and motion, but I wish I’d found a way to help him stand out more brightly. Against the mountains, he fades into the background. That, perhaps, is exactly how the natural world lives within the context of American village culture, but it makes me ache. I want the mountains and trees to dominate the landscape, or at least to hold a place that brings balance to the overall piece. Here, they’re more of a backdrop to city life.
In reviewing this piece, I’m seeing city culture dominating the picture. The colors of the city, the odd shapes and sizes, the artificially flat road…all of these distract from the beauty and serenity that is represented in the mountains, tree, and sky. As a commentary on the balance of bustle and calm, moving and rooted, doing and being, I think American Village I speaks to the unbalanced nature of life in America’s villages.