Thursday, July 1, 2010

For the Waters of This Earth

Perhaps you've heard of Andy Goldsworthy (pictured above).

These past weeks, as I've watched the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding habitats and their diverse life forms being despoiled by oil, I've thought often of the soft-spoken Scotsman, a sculptor whose medium is nature itself. His relationship to nature is not exploitative; he doesn't seek to dominate, to force it to do his bidding. Rather, the relationship is collaborative, based on a bond that is both beautiful and tremendously fragile.

"I don't think the earth needs me at all," Goldsworthy says, "but I do need it."

Through Goldsworthy's vision and the skill of his hands, bits of snow and ice, loose rocks, multi-colored leaves, twigs and pieces of wood become unforgettable works of art. Works of art not meant to last. Even as he creates them, Goldsworthy knows his sculptures will soon melt, or be destroyed by wind, or swallowed by a tide, or overgrown by weeds, or knocked over by animals.

No problem, ultimately. The end is just part of the process. And maybe, after all, the end isn't the end at all, but another beginning.

Below is a seven-minute clip from "Rivers and Tides," a 2001 documentary by filmmaker Thomas Reidelsheimer about Goldsworthy and his work. You'll see him finishing a lovely shoreline sculpture just in time for the tide to carry it gently into the sea.

I offer you this clip in gratitude for the waters of this earth, in grief over their defilement, and in hope of their restoration.

Note: If for some reason you can't see the viewer below, please click here to watch the video.

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