Artful Land Care

Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

The Creative Learning Wheel

In Art, YCM on December 14, 2012 at 6:52 am


The following reflection is by Corey Hacker.  Corey joined My Future last September.  With great presence, Corey has guided and mentored youth throughout the fall. 

December 14, 2012

Creativity is a powerful tool that can be used to achieve ones highest goals.  For a young person’s mind, the ability to be creative in a comfortable environment is essential to the learning process.  My Future is a place that kids can use their imaginations to create art and feel free to express themselves without the fear of criticism.  I very much enjoy being able to help the kids that come to My Future tap into their creativity.

One of my favorite experiences with the program has been teaching the potter’s wheel.  The potter’s wheel is a tool that is used to make circular clay pots.  The wheel takes a specific skill set to operate successfully.  The kids are taught step by step how to create using the wheel.  The wheel teaches patience and helps the students understand that only through practice and concentration can one perfect the skill of throwing a pot.

The pots that are made with the wheel are then glazed by the kids and fired in a kiln.  They are then able to take home their works of art and use them, or give them away as presents.  Watching the students end up with a sense of accomplishment is what is really cool about My Future



© David B. Bell 2012


Walking With Dead In A Landscape Of Art

In Art, Landscape, YCM on November 23, 2012 at 10:23 am

November 23, 2012

This month began with a Field Trip for a few of the My Future students.  Many of their artwork made up a Dia de los Muertos alter presented in downtown Yakima.  Like with other artful students, My Future youth helped create an alter asking and answering questions of life and death.

Being present and intentional with Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) calls an artist to consider the rightness or wrongness of their art.  For one whose ancestral culture is that of Dia de los Muertos there is a normalcy to participating in a long tradition of art that plays at that edge of death and life.  But for those of us whose culture is of landscapes other than that which birthed Dia de los Muertos the question must be asked, can we be artful and not disrespectful?

Many American Indians remind non-Indians their participation of Indian practices is a fragile one.  From sweats to sage smoke, flutes to the four winds, American Indians recognize many non-Indians appropriate their practices—Such appropriation not always for financial or social gain, rather, acts, such as the use of cleansing sage smoke, are done without embodying the fullness of the sage’s landscape.  Due to centuries of appropriating bodies from sacred burial sites for scientific study to decades of claiming religious and social practices for non-Indian events and ceremonies, American Indians rightfully question when non-Indians produce Indian-like art.  Such history calls the artist to carefully question their participation in cultural art that is not their own.

So it is fair to ask why does Dia de los Muertos have such a large presence in the art of My Future?  Fair and important, because the directors of My Future, Belinda and myself, are white, non-Indian, non-Latino/a, and Dia de los Muertos is nothing if not indigenous and Latino/a.

Not appropriating culture art is tricky for artists, because an artist’s being is wrapped around the constant wonderment of landscape.  Wonderment often leads to eternal questions of life and death, hurt and joy, love and rejection.  One instance of art where an artist found life and wonder outside his culture of birth is Starry Night.  In painting Starry Night the Dutch artist Van Gough beckons the observer into an intimate relationship with the French landscape.  Van Gough presents a landscape of swirling cypress, mountains, and sky, which calls the observer to open the door of finitude, walk out the angular home, church and steeple in favor of entering the cosmos of mystery and wonderment.

Another instance is Woody Guthrie’s song This Land Is Your Land.  Guthrie moves beyond the landscape of birth and asks the listener to consider the landscape of a continent.  Similar to Van Gough, Guthrie calls the listener to an experience of wonderment so large the listener must become fluid where tactile and emotion become one.  In this context of grandeur sky and land, plants and clouds, and water and voice, Guthrie destroys concepts of ownership and No Trespassing signs.  Artists, by nature, reach into the landscape in which they find themselves to mold and breathe life as to beckon us into creations texture.  Such reaching in, though,matters because embedded in the landscape is culture, and it is this life of the ancients which calls the artist to enter into a landscape conversation which strives for art to jump the chasm of appropriation and become an appropriate reflection of culture.

The landscape of My Future is one of America.  Not the nationalistic U.S. america, but peoples America of North, Central, and South America.  This is landscape of an imagined borderless continent where youthful artists walk freely because walls fade and land speaks freely.  Such a landscape does not assume, but speaks the voice of teacher.  This relationship, when done well, allows the student artist to awaken to their place in the culture of landscape.  This place of learning helps the student become a non-assuming artist who embodies the landscape’s voice.

Doing our best to listen to landscape does not mean culture is never appropriated, but rather, My Future staff and students hope their Dia de los Muertos art grasps to reflect their conversation with the landscape, presenting art that is reverent.

My Future Moccasins

In Art, YCM on October 18, 2012 at 7:40 am

October 18, 2012

Amazing what students do with duct tape!  A couple of the creations from students of the My Future: extended learning program.


Wild Horses of the Yakama Nation

In Art, Reflections, Reservation, YCM on April 27, 2012 at 7:52 am

By Tamalyn Kralman

April 27, 2012

Last Saturday the JustLiving Farm and Yakama Mission hosted Spring Horse.  Spring Horse brings amateur and professional photographers together to experience the wild horses of the Yakama Reservation and to enhance their gift by developing ongoing relationships.  These photographers give us their unique perspective of the landscape.

Spring Horse 2013: April 20

By Roger Lynn

By Roger Lynn

By Doris Steeg

By Roger Lynn

By Tamalyn Kralman

By Roger Lynn

By Roger Lynn

© David B. Bell 2012

Manes and Memories

In Art, Events, JustLiving Farm on April 26, 2012 at 8:23 am

By Dorris Steeg

April 26, 2012

It might be the era of my childhood, or it might be the rural area I grew up in, or it may be growing up in the west, or it just may be normal in every U.S. school in every era…

I remember my elementary school playground when I look at this Spring Horse photo by Doris Steeg.  Girls ran the playground from one end to the other, tossing their hair side to side, sometimes with one arm behind them—as if a tail, and whinnying.  These were the wild horses, manes flashing and tails running, of Sulphur Springs playground.  Romping around and laughing, they paid little to no attention to us boys.  Us boys didn’t pay much attention to them either, but just enough, I guess, to store a memory away to surface again another day.  I don’t remember when the girls quit living as wild horses, maybe about the time we boys began paying more attention to their manes.  Yet, when I think about all these years of marriage…maybe the wild horse never really went away.

© David B. Bell 2012

Rise and Shine

In Art, Events, JustLiving Farm, Reservation on April 25, 2012 at 6:33 am

By Tamalyn Kralman

April 25, 2012
A Spring Horse morning…

© David B. Bell 2012


In Art, Events, JustLiving Farm on April 23, 2012 at 7:24 am

By Roger Lynn

April 23, 2012
My Future

It is hard to imagine the type of day we had for the first Spring Horse event!  Sunny and the slightest of breezes allowed for a day that began with sunrise, ended with sunset, and permitted a wonderful opportunity to experience the valley landscape and a few of its hosts.  From driving to hiking folks lived with the valleys hosts up close and at a distance.  And where horses were not seen, that land smiled in their place.  The day became wonderful way to support My Future: extended-learning art program.

The photo “Youngster” is the first of a few photos to be posted this week!

© David B. Bell 2012

Sunflower Snow

In Art, JustLiving Farm, Seasons on January 23, 2012 at 7:31 am

January 23, 2012
JustLiving Farm

I walk by them every day.  Each spring we plant more sunflowers than we will ever harvest.  This isn’t so hard, a sunflower or two will produce all the seeds we’re going to eat for a year.  We plant the rest for birds to partake during late spring and early winter.  By now, they have figured out how to get the last seed out of the flower head.  So, I walk by those stems and flower heads that were so green and yellow last summer, each day, without thinking much about them.  Then the sun came out.  With sunlight touching the snow buildup on each head the sunflowers presented a beauty that comes after life has slipped away.

© David B. Bell 2012


In Art, JustLiving Farm, YCM on January 8, 2012 at 7:36 am

January 8, 2012
JustLiving Farm
Yakama Mission

Epiphany.  There are no other days like the days of epiphany.  The Christian church holds today a bit more special than others—Jesus’ Baptism.  There are many others.  Hopefully each of us experiences epiphany, sooner or later, time and again.

One who speaks to epiphany well is Wendell Berry.  Below is a poem I had the good fortune to recently be turned on to is Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front found at In Context.

The photo is a mosaic of the “Baptism of Christ,” created in the mid-12th century. Found at the Cappella Palatina di PalermoI in Palermo, Italy.

Is possible exists between a modern writer and an artist of the 12th century?

The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.


A Solstice Story

In Art, JustLiving Farm, Reflections on December 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm

December 22, 2011
JustLiving Farm

He was moving right along when I caught up with him.  When he trundled by earlier, the night sky was giving it up and the last star fading.  I hurried to get my britches on, but when I’m in a hurry the simplest of things go wrong.  Day in and day out I but britches on and never have a problem, but the day I’m in a hurry I shove my foot into the pant leg, forget to point my foot, and next thing I know, I’m stuck halfway down the leg.  Then I’m on my butt, pulling my leg out, shoving it back in and finally, finally! am able to stand up and pull my britches up.  The whole process doesn’t take a lot of time, but I’m red faced and feel as if it took forever

Now running to catch up, the faded morning color said it was but a moment before sunrise.  Sure enough, sunlight grazed the ridge top just as I turned at the red oak.  Up ahead I saw him out in the wheatgrass.

Mornings have their own frame of time.  The final minutes of dark on a cold winter morning last forever, but once the sun rises it seems in such a hurry.  Now it appeared as if the sun jumped higher with every step I took.  As the sun went higher, its light flowed down the ridge—faster than I could walk to catch up with him.  Then, it was just weird…I was maybe thirty feet from him when sunlight hit and then flashed across the valley floor.  The grasses, still encased in ice from yesterdays fog grabbed sunlight, multiplied it, and threw it across the valley.  For a moment I became sparkle blind.  As I came closer, he looked back and walked on.  Maybe it was because I was breathless, maybe because of sparkle embedded in my eyes, but in that moment it looked as if he walked on light.

He didn’t say a thing.  Arnie seldom does.

Armadillo’s are known for their slow moving being.  For the most part they aren’t a chatty bunch.  But they are conversive when life matters.  This morning there was no talking as he turned and continued.

I didn’t know where he was heading, but Arnie is ancient and I figured something might be up.  No one knows how long Arnie’s been around.  This is probably because no one knows when he came.  For as far back as anyone remembers, even the old folk, Arnie’s been here.  You’d think such age would set him aside from others.  You know, a respect that moves folk aside when he walks by.  But that has never been the case.  His name says it all.  No title, no last name, just Arnie.  Just the same, there has always been something about Arnie.  You see, things happen when Arnie is around.

I tried to stay awake last night.  The old stories tell about ancients walking about on Solstice morning.  They are up and about other mornings, but the morning of the shortest day tweaks creation in such a way, they are easier to see.  The stories say when the ancients walk, the trees talk and the fish dance.  But it is also said, you must see the ancients before you encounter trees talking and fish dancing.  So, I made it my lot in life—yesterday—to stay up and see the ancients today!  Problem was, last night, being the second to longest night of the year; well, it went on and on.  Sometime, I’m not sure when, but sometime after the big dipper entered the northeastern sky, I fell asleep.

I remember dreaming of springtime.  Sun filled blue sky and a hint of warmth.  I sat next to a stream watching the ice break up.  One Ice chunk after another floated by.  When they ran into each other there was a scrapping crunching sound.  Rhythm rose up—scrap, scrap; crunch, crunch; scrap, crunch, scrap.  Then a large chunk of ice ran into the others, crunch, cruNCH, CRUNCH!  I woke up and Arnie walked by—feet crunching frozen grass below.  Now following Arnie, I can see the frozen grass laying flat to the ground with each footstep.

I looked down and watched my own feet laying footsteps in the frozen grass and I could kick myself.  Dreaming of floating ice and missing the walk of the ancients!  Why couldn’t I just stay awake a little longer!  Now here I am following Arnie to who knows where?  And then, it hits me, there are no armadillo footsteps in front of my own!  Dadgumit, I lost Arnie!

I looked around.  The place is familiar.  The creek, a stone’s throw, is where we picnic Sunday summer afternoons when a respite from the heat allows for a lazy afternoon.  Aspens dot the land, some in bunches, others standoffish.  I turned round and round again.  Sure enough, no Arnie.  I walked up to the creek, looked upstream then downstream, and all there was was the dam the beaver has been working on since last spring.  Dangit! I turned around, went over to the closest tree and sat down.

Why didn’t I pay attention?  First I went to sleep last night, gave up any chance of seeing the ancients, and then followed Arnie to see something different, and I lose him!  One would think they could keep up with an old armadillo!

As I sat, the sun crested the tall grasses and settled in around the base of the tree.  I closed my eyes, partially from the suns glare, partially from little sleep.  With eyes closed, the air warming around me, I settled down.

The water flowing in and through the beaver’s dam raised a tumbling sound into the air.  At first it was one sound, but slowly it blossomed.  The soprano of the reeds at dam edge folded with the baritone rising from dam center.  In their caressing they welcomed the tenor of water playing with stones at the dam’s foot.  Soon the melting frost from tree leaves above fell to dammed water bringing an alto to the chorus.  The choir played on, the melody flowed, the alto’s slowed and then departed.  I’m not sure how long the song played, but when I opened my eyes, the frost, like the alto’s, had left and the Aspen leaves were dry.

Few leaves remained on the trees.  Frosty mornings and strong fall winds had bedded the ground with them long ago.  But even on winter’s morning there were those who held tight and golden in the sunlight.  Lightened from frost, they move as the lightest of breeze travels down creek.  They turn, flip, sway, and waddle about.  First one, then the next, and again another until leaves from branch scraping creek to top of tree waltz.  Every now and again the breeze would spin a leaf and let go—leaf swooping, looping, plunging, floating, light on their stem moving from heaven to earth.

Water, breeze, and leaves filled space and time emptied.

Short days are short days, certainly in a ridged valley.  As quick as the sun had entered the valley, it left.  Color entered evening sky.  The morning’s journey now ancient.  I arose from the tree.  Walking away, I noticed grass without its ice blanket had risen.  Morning footsteps had long disappeared and only a meadow of short and tall grasses communing remained.

As I walked I thought about the stories of the ancients.  One day, maybe, I would see the ancients and hear the trees talk and watch fish dance.  But until then, a day of water singing and leaves dancing ain’t all that bad.

As I reached the meadows end and turned toward home, I looked back to the tree of song and dance and noticed a shape in the limbs that looked oddly armadilloish.  Must be a bunch of mistletoe, I thought as I left the meadow, after all armadillo’s don’t climb trees.

© David B. Bell 2011