up nort’, hey

arm with birch bark


About a month ago, already, we traveled to the Grand Marais area on the North Shore of Minnesota. We were there a couple of summers ago for a couple of days and liked it so much that we decided to spend a whole week. So we found a small cabin some miles north of Grand Marais, just across highway 61 from a stony beach on Lake Superior. The cabin had no running water and we used the wood stove most evenings to take off the slight cool and dampness.

It was a quiet and relaxing trip. The weather was pleasant and sunny, so nearly everyday we took hikes, mostly to several of the numerous waterfalls that tumble out of the back country of the Arrowhead and over the slope of the ancient rift valley into the cold water of the lake. Some of them are quite impressive; in particular, the Devil’s Kettle at Judge Magney State Park, a part of the river that falls into a hole and no one has figured out yet where it goes. So that was quite intriguing. At any rate, hiking around was good for us and I took some mostly vacationey photos while we were walking.

I knew, going, that many of my usual urban thematics wouldn’t likely be available, so I was happy to use the naturey elements that were everywhere. Those included Artist’s Point in Grand Marais, a rocky peninsula with much visual appeal; hence it’s name. Last time we were there, I spent a few hours wandering and doing photos and this time I was able to spend some time there twice. It’s a fascinating place. At the farther eastern reaches of it, when no one is around, the cold water and the bare, ancient lava make very real the time depth of the place. You can sense to your core that that cold water has been moving along those rocks just the way you observe it for uncounted years, at least since the last ice age. It forces you to feel the truth that humanity is evanescent in the bigger picture and that ultimately we are unimportant, that our impending self-destruction will hardly be noticed by the physical world. Water will continue to lap the rocks and clouds and rain will work on the land long after there are any people to observe it and write dorky blog posts about their observations.

There were also a few opportunities to make additions to my ongoing embodiment project. The photo here is among the better of those. One stream of the project is making use of available light and found objects and incorporating them with some part of a body, so it’s necessary for these things to coincide at a time when I have the camera and there’s time to work on the photo. This stream is, of course, always out in the world somewhere, not in the studio, and usually, so far, in a natural setting and using bits of decaying plant matter and/or rocks. So for this one, we were on the beach and I found this bit of birch bark, to which I added a forearm and some small stones. The fading evening light worked well with the warm tones of the bark and the skin.


About Ron Wiecki

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