As I begin one of my summer reads I’m taken by Peter Clothier’s discussion of the barriers he (and many artists) place between themselves and their work. In my case, at least this summer, this barrier (or “Big Lie”) is my daughter’s “chicken experiment.”
Long concerned about the ethical treatment of animals she’s decided that she would like to care for a small flock of chickens and harvest their eggs to ensure the animals that contribute to her food supply are humanely treated. As a result, I‘ve been brought in as a part of the team working to provide shelter for these chickens. When I say “provide shelter,” what I really mean is “building resurrection” because what my father (the other half of the team) and I do is really bring buildings back from the dead.
BEFORE: So this is (was) the chicken coop when we started. You can see a little of the roof over the door and that is because that is all the was still above the walls. The rest of the roof had rotted and fallen into the interior of the coop. (No, the picture isn’t skewed, the building is actually leaning and held up by the boards in the right hand corner.)
AFTER: Four days later we’ve ended up with this. Ok, so it may not be pretty but it does have a roof that works and it is straight. In fact, (You can’t see them here) it even has chickens in it. With some good fortune it’ll soon have eggs in it as well.
Now, as this barrier has reached a point at which I am no longer needed (or I am able to work past this “Big Lie), it is time to get back into my summer studio. Actually, this little project isn’t too terribly far from one of my concerns and that is sustainability. I really enjoyed Thoreau’s “Walden” for its intellectual approach to the very core of human existence, subsistence. None-the-less, it is time to get back into the studio and I will do that over the next couple of days to get it started up and begin work on some projects I’ve been looking forward to for a while.