When I start to feel antsy, I go to a museum. I chose the De Young yesterday, specifically Maya Lin's exhibit Systematic Landscapes. I have always resonated to her work since I first saw a picture of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and then, visited it in person. This exhibit is like being folded and unfolded in geologic time, and, then, in a space-time continuum. I wondered what Einstein would have thought. I was enamored with a silver river made of pins. Many of her materials are not expensive and yet what she creates is art. We are changed.
Yesterday was also Zach time. When I picked him up, I learned he was an electric train. We spent our usual twenty minutes checking out the water level beneath the grate near his school. He has finally decided flowers don't grow down there in the dark. He has also decided it is not a place he wants to visit, even if we could remove the grate. We then discovered the magnificent gift of a huge sand pile with various mounds. We were trains running up and down, and getting stuck, and thinking we could, and so we did, and we ran up and down and all about. It is amazing the number of songs that come to mind when one is a train.
Zach now moves further away from me, and uses more space, just like Maya Lin, so he would run to his milk and fuel and run back to the sand pile. His shoes were wheels and he was a most cuddly train. Hugs are key, even when one is an electric train. We were Thomas and Percy, and Eva and Wall-e, and sometimes we were the trees who were standing very still and sometimes we were the wind.
We returned to Zach's home as it was getting dark and the temperature dropping to freezing. Ron went outside and gathered wood and made a fire, and Zach and I shared the big comfy chair next to the well-lit Christmas tree and I read to Zach from a new book, the Stinky Face Christmas story, which is charming. Zach may not yet be three, but they have a fireplace insert and he was not seemingly willing to believe that Santa was going to pop out of that small space. We decided the back door would be left unlocked Christmas Eve night.
Zach also doesn't seem to have any wants, doesn't seem to have a concept of how to answer "What do you want Santa to bring?" which seems just great to me. I love the innocence of this age and the practicality. His eyes are huge and he kept looking at the fireplace and thinking of his visit to Santa whom he did not seem too impressed with, and thinking that yes, Santa may arrive on a sleigh, but he'll come in through the door. Zach's mother was up and dressed and looking very pretty. I pray her ordeal may be coming to an end. She will go off the steroids after Christmas and hopefully her stomach will be able to handle food and other side-effects will end. Her hair is growing back and energy slowly returns. A bone marrow transplant is certainly rougher than any of us might have imagined and she is coming beautifully through.
I found myself this morning with a few tears. I've been up since 1:30, unable to sleep these wintry early mornings. Ron and I checked out the separation of Jupiter and Venus last night. They are moving further apart. Imagine when the night sky was your evening entertainment. Everything seems so close this time of year. The moon is close. Anyway, this morning I remembered chemo. At the time, it just was. I was present with each moment. That is how I made it through, but seeing Zach's mother yesterday reminded me of how rough it really was, and I don't begin to compare her experience to mine. Even though mine was much, much, much easier, I guess I am well enough to let myself feel it and say some things are tough and they are worth it. Here I am and here she is! I feel like one of those old-fashioned bubble lights on a Christmas tree, bubbling with the preciousness of life, and love and care.
Growingoldest, Cara Joyce had this to say yesterday:
You and I are inevitably infinite simply because we are comprised of atoms and molecules. As for future lives: When you were 10 billion hydrogen atoms in the heart of a sun, could you possibly imagine being human? Now that we are human, we cannot possibly imagine, even brush against conception of, what future existence of the self will be like.
I have been awake with that in the night as morning now comes. Zach and I also had quite a discussion about the miracle of that, the sun rising and setting and the moon changing each day. Actually, when I think of the daily miracles, Santa squeezing through a tiny fireplace opening doesn't seem like such a big deal.
This is the blurb from the De Young website. If you can visit the exhibit, do!
San Francisco, August 2008—Recent sculptures, drawings, and installations by the celebrated artist Maya Lin are on view at the de Young Museum October 25, 2008, to January 18, 2009. Lin (b. 1959) came to prominence in 1981 with her design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and has since achieved a high degree of recognition for a body of work that includes monuments, buildings, earthworks, sculpture, and installations. Systematic Landscapes is Lin’s second nationally-traveling exhibition in ten years, with venues in Seattle, St. Louis, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. “This exhibition continues my interest in exploring notions of landscape and geologic phenomena,” says Lin. “The works created, both small- and large-scale installations, reveal new and at times unexpected views of the natural world: from the topology of the ocean floor to the stratified layers of a mountain to a form that sits between water and earth.”
Lin’s extraordinary ability to convey complex and poetic ideas using simple forms and natural materials is fully evident in Systematic Landscapes. Working in a scale that relates to the land, and combining a deep interest in forces and forms of nature with a long-term investigation into the possibilities of sculptural form to embody meaning, this exhibition offers a rich, immersive experience for visitors that brings the sensory understanding of Lin’s outdoor works inside.
Lin has created a trio of large-scale sculptural installations for the exhibition that present different ways to encounter and comprehend the landscape. 2x4 Landscape (2006), a vast hill built of 65,000 boards set on end, presents a land surface rising from the gallery floor. Water Line (2006), a wire-frame three-dimensional drawing in space based on an undersea formation, is installed overhead and dips into the visitor’s sightline. Blue Lake Pass (2006) is a topographic translation of a Colorado mountain range made of layers of stacked particleboard that have been segmented and pulled apart to create landscape strata through which the visitor can see.
Systematic Landscapes also includes a series of sculptures based on the water volumes of various inland seas; plaster reliefs of imagined landscapes that are embedded directly into gallery walls; large drawings of landforms and river sheds; and altered atlases that present alternative topographies.
Concurrent with Systematic Landscapes is the debut of Maya Lin’s public art installation Where the Land Meets the Sea, a tubular wire sculpture commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission for the California Academy of Sciences, also in Golden Gate Park. The installation is the first permanent work by Lin in San Francisco. The de Young exhibition will feature small-scale models, maquettes, and renderings of the piece, engaging audiences in Lin’s creative thinking process and studio practice.