Friday, September 3, 2010

New Contours: Guest Blog by Nelson Campbell

Friend and fellow artist and writer, Nelson Campbell, is the author of today's blog post.  Nelson is an exquisite thinker and artist. Although we have never actually met (in person), I number her on a short list, as friend. It gives me pause to consider how the Internet connects us, displaces us, re-imagines what it means to be friend, artist and in doing so perhaps, resituates one's sense of geography.  Similarly in this post, contemplating one's geography is in part the subject Nelson considers.  Her post is a bold, thoughtful and thought provoking work.  I am so pleased to be able to feature Nelson's words and images. 

If you are traveling to Vermont (or perhaps live there) this fall, you have the opportunity to see work by Nelson at the Shelburne Farms 23rd Art at the Coach Barn. The show runs from 9.23.10 - 10.24.10.  On Wednesday, Sept. 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. there will be a reception.
Shelburne Farms, 1611 Harbor Road, Shelburne, Vermont  

If you cannot see her work in person, please make time to visit her work on the Internet. 
Links to Nelson Campbell's Art: 

Big, Big Shadows. Image created by Nelson Campbell.
I have been displaced a number of times in my life - voluntarily and involuntarily. Sometimes I was excited - sometimes afraid, sometimes indifferent - sometimes shattered.

During these periods of transition, I notice that I start looking for touchstones - anchors - old friends -trees I recognize, flowers, mushrooms - birds.

In the process of searching for the "old," I unavoidably come into contact with the new. New flowers, new trees, new contours, curves, peaks, and paths.

I have discovered tiny expatriates that have traveled with me from my old old t-shirt revealed a clump of small burrs clustered near the hem. How is it that tiny burrs stuck to an old shirt can reduce me to tears just because they traveled with me from fields of a life now gone? 

Horses have always represented both grounding and transition. My love of horses is as old as I am. My first purchase for my new space was a sculpture of a horse made of driftwood from Lake Champlain.
Parabol. Image by Nelson Campbell.

This beautiful work of art represents a beginning synthesis between the past and present, the old and new.

We all seek to fill a space and make it our own. We seek to live beyond merely existing. To affirm beyond merely tolerating. An excerpt from Langston Hughes expresses the struggle and determination required to uproot and then replant:

...So since I'm still here livin',
I guess I will live on.
I could've died for love —
But for livin' I was born

Though you may hear me holler,
And you may see me cry —
I'll be dogged, sweet baby,
If you gonna see me die.

from Life is Fine, by Langston Hughes

Summer Porches. Image created by Nelson Campbell.


  1. Beautiful and thought provoking post, Nelson. As an expatriate for over twenty years, I strongly relate to what you say about looking for touchstones. I so love the line: "I have discovered tiny expatriates that have traveled with me from my old life..." I've done the same, like when I discovered an old embroidered handkerchief of my grandmother's after I first moved to China. I sure had a good cry over that one.

  2. Deboarh and Nels, my favorite line was the same. It is so perfect a way to capture the intimacy we find in ordinary items--ones that stand for so much more.