A number of weeks ago I promised to post some more pictures of our adventures in Montana. So here goes! I think there is general agreement among all of us that although the entire time was breathtakingly beautiful and overwhelming in so many ways, the highlight of our time there was the chance to go on a dinosaur dig. A real one.
Thanks to a good friend of ours here in Cincinnati who does exciting work on museums and theme parks all around the world (and happens to be well connected), we were invited to The Redding Field Station just outside of Rudyard Montana to hang out with some really cool scientists and participate in an ongoing dig. This field station is part of the dinosaur research happening at Montana State University and is led by world famous paleontologist Jack Horner.
So we drove and drove to what felt like the middle of nowhere and arrived at the Redding Farm. It looks at first glance like all wheat fields for miles and miles. Until you reach the edge of the coulee. Suddenly the ground drops off and this is where one goes to look for dinosaur remains.
These are the tipis we slept in. They were cozier than you might imagine!
There are two types of work in which we took part. First is that of the actual current dig where paleontologists have discovered a number of hadrosaur (duckbill) skeletons and are diligently and painstakingly working to catalog and remove them for study.
The other part of our our work while there is called ‘prospecting’. This is where we drove around looking for potential dig sites elsewhere. This was done on ATV’s with our host and farmer, Dan and his dog Cracker. Awhile back on this blog I talked about maybe creating a children’s book about a working blue heeler. I think I have found the dog with the perfect job….. and I have already started drawing….
Life at the dig can be rough for those who stay for weeks at a time or for the summer. The climate can be cold or hot, wet or dry, all to extremes. But these talented scientists seemed tireless. They are enthusiastic about their passion for dinosaur research and it was infectious. My 13 year old daughter is already talking grad school with her paleo-hero, Liz, the lead field scientist at Redding Field Station.
Cracker Jack. (get it?)
Below is one of my favorite shots from the dig. This is Adam prospecting in the coulee. If I were his mom I’d yell at him to be careful. But he was like a mountain goat. Sure footed and finding all kinds of treasures….
such as a vertebra from a champsosaur (looks a bit like an alligator)…
or a tyrannosaur tooth.
Below are Liz and Maddie chatting it up. It was so refreshing to see Maddie so engaged and excited as she was missing our usual time in Maine. In the end she admitted that she had a blast out west and was thrilled that she had the opportunity to do everything we did… especially the dig!
I think this is a rib bone…
See that little blue garden knee pad? That is where I spent the bulk of the afternoon digging. I found it to be extremely meditative and was able to lose myself in the hours. Sort of like a good day of art making.
A couple of days after our trip to the dig site, we visited the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT. where we had the opportunity for a back stage tour of the paleo lab there from none other than Jack Horner himself. Little did he know how inspiring this would be to a 13 year old kid.
Now summer’s adventures have drifted into fall, which seems to have just arrived in our area in recent days. It’s tea and soup season. Time for introspection and needle work. It is my favorite time of year. In a matter of days I head to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky for my residency there during the month of October. The connection between this summer’s geologically themed travels out west and this fall’s opportunity to go underground, both literally and figuratively, are not lost on me. I have some deep work to do down there. Some deep healing and recuperation from the past months.
This weekend sees the culmination of two huge labors of love. First, a quilt show, in memory of Esme. We began the installation yesterday and below are a few of the works involved, including my own. First, the massive community quilt that was made by friends and family of Esme’s from around the world. It’s 20 feet long and 7 feet tall. Stunning.
This is Tina Westerkamp’s work, Persephone’s Veil (Descending), the most sculptural piece in the show. She is haunting and lovely, as so much of Tina’s work is.
Denise Burge made this quilt using powerful words spoken by Patricia Crawford, grandmother of one of the other young women murdered by the same man who took Esme’s life. Until Esme was killed, no one knew what had happened to Casonya Crawford who was killed 2 years prior to Es. She was 14. Patricia Crawford says there is some peace in at least knowing justice was done.
My work for this show is entitled The Call. It is a meditation on the notion of community. How community has provided concentric circles of support for the grieving and also how a strong community might be able to prevent future violence through connections between people. All we have is each other.
I appreciate the unexpected shadow line below the quilt. Like mountains.
The doilies also cast interesting shadows off of this work. I have dozens more doilies collected and think their fractal quality along with their inherent theme of ‘women’s work’ will make for interesting installation work in the future.
There are many more quilts to be installed and I will try to get photos of them to post before I leave for Mammoth Cave. The opening for this show is friday October 1, 2010, from 6-8 pm. Please RSVP to the YWCA if you would like to attend.
We will also be officially dedicating Esme’s Sculpture at the School for Creative and Performing Arts this Saturday, October 2nd. Anyone wanting to stop by and visit the sculpture is welcome as it will be available for public viewing from 3-5 pm. Those of us who worked so hard to get this inspirational work of art made and installed would love to meet all of the donors who made it financially possible. We could not have done it without you!! A few folks have asked whether we are still accepting donations for the Esme Kenney Memorial Fund and what that money might be used for. The answer is yes! Donations are still very welcome. Esme’s family is hoping to set up a scholarship fund in Esme’s memory that might provide tuition to SCPA for a student who may be out of district but full of talent and unable to afford it otherwise. Sharing the gift of music was always one of Esme’s strong suits and it is our hope to continue sharing in that spirit.
I apologize for this being an impossibly long blog post. I have wanted to get caught up from summer for weeks, especially as I prepare for my residency. But alas, there was a quilt to be made, and other stuff to be done, that did not involve a computer.
It is my hope that in the coming weeks I can use this blog as a place to work out my thinking a bit while down at the Cave. Writing is a good way to grease the skids for art making. So stay tuned dear readers. I’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, I hope to see you this weekend as we remember a young life cut short and as we embrace the healing power of art.