In late 2013, I found myself lost. I was carving outside a metal sculptor’s studio in downtown Seattle, but it wasn't mine and I knew it was time to start searching for my own workspace. I had a place to live in a building downtown, but I had never wanted to be there and while I didn't want to stay, I also dislike change and find it very hard to tear away from security. On a work front, my paying jobs were mostly about how much stress one person could hold, and I was putting every last bit of energy left into a large burning man collaboration with an awesome, but too small, crew. And the very last bit of my innocence was being destroyed in a bare-threaded and desperate relationship on its last strands. This all culminated in a serious breakdown in August. I went underwater, my light extinguished. And so, in September, I began moving.
And so I carved the foundation of the lighthouse, quit all my jobs, and began ripping myself off the ground to start wandering in search of home. I was hurt, I was stressed, and blindly determined.
With legs of stone, especially so unformed, I moved very slowly. I was invited to help set up a bronze foundry on Vashon Island and began commuting from my apartment in Pioneer Square, Seattle. I left the downtown studio. I started carving outside the Quonset hut destined to be the foundry. I worked a little on the lighthouse. I tried risky job propositions, each a lifting of feet. I joined NWSSA and began attending stone carving symposiums, and the light started to shine again, just a little.
At the Silver Falls symposium that summer, I spent five days straight shaping the lighthouse itself (it's a separate piece from the base). I lost myself in the rhythm of filing down the body and rebuilding this form anew among new friends. I liked the focus I found in that group, and the ease of character. They felt like what home could be.
In late 2014, I started a business that allowed me to rent my own studio space at the same complex of abandoned greenhouses turned artists’ studios where the foundry will be. The business promptly failed, but I had that studio and I loved that studio. And I kept that studio. I started the detail carving of the lighthouse face. Slowly that year, plans began to come into focus. Progress was slow, as I was stretching thin, still tethered to that old apartment and unable to break away entirely.
2015 found me wading in the river. I finally pushed off the foundation, relinquished the apartment and went peripatetic. Homeless. The day I found out that was to happen, the day after returning to my studio from Camp B, Rubble was cast as the foundation broke off entirely. A fit of ink projected the lighthouse onto a studio wall.
Splashing forward, I crashed on couches in a constant state of discomfort with the unknown, traveled to Arizona to work with a lapidary crew and there tackled the toes and the meaning of mobility. There, in the depths of isolation and in, by all accounts, terrible circumstances, I missed home, dreadfully. Not just my studio but my communities.
I came back to my studio for just a few days before a next journey to Vancouver, BC to be the artist in residence at Studiostone, a carving studio with a vibrant community. Touching ground so briefly in my own space was powerful and I did not want to leave, and I had to leave again, so soon! In B.C. I was homesick. Not that my experience there wasn't wonderful, it was. And in many ways, I was at home among other stone artists. But my own lens had finally focused, and though I had a whole studio full of stone and tools to play with, I worked diligently instead on the lighthouse carving its lens, sanding and painting, brazing the river, assembling the pieces, making plans, yearning for Seattle and for the island and the chance to pull in my feet and let down the walls. This was the seventh workspace I and the lighthouse had worked in together and by the end of March, all that I could do outside my own studio was done. All that was left to make was a wooden oval base and to have the light turned on.
I wanted to have the base before returning to Vashon, so I detoured for a few days to visit a friend on another island with a studio surrounded in forest. I took the lighthouse out into this eighth workspace to cut and laminate a solid base of old, repurposed mahogany. By now I was savoring the last drops of my homesickness. I still had no plan and no specific place to lay my head, but that didn't matter so much. One foot, a few toes, were still in the river, and the rest of me had pulled up onto a new land.
And so the return to the island and the finishing work. Lots of little details and readjustments that fell into place swiftly. A shearing of reality as the chronicled character of the monomyth became someone else, an entity unto itself and no longer an aspect of my internal visualscape. And now he ambles over there, quite alive. His path remembered in a wash of golden light. His lens bright with intent and determination. He delights me. I never thought he would exist; I never thought the feeling of home would again either.
I did not necessarily intend for the sculpture to be so literal, and there is a lot of backstory about the quest for home that began far longer ago than this particular lens. But that is how it works and I'm grateful to have been awake for this part of the journey.
Something of a Shearing first appeared on April 28, 2016 in Cyra Jane’s Blog: The Spaces in Between