Saturday, February 21, 2009

Introduction - Synopsis

I had just finished up working on my first completed collage journal, Dreamiverse. In this journal, I created an altered book, and did my art randomly on top of another publication. After I did the artwork, I printed it myself on the color copier at work and created my first animated CD to accompany it. This was so truly empowering and I loved the idea of having my artwork printed. I wanted to do it again.
Upon examination of the finished book, the only thing that bothered me was the fact that it was "just art" and not a story. Instead of loose artworks, I dreamed about creating an epic collage story, something with characters and a plot. I decided this project would probably need some words, since a long story only in pictures might be difficult to follow. I really didn't want to type the story. That would be too easy. I wanted things to be a bit more random and Dada, like the rest of my work. The words would also have to be collaged. And The Fair Maid was born.
I had an old ledger style composition notebook containing 150 pages. It was vintage, but pristine, and I was holding onto it for just the right project. It had ruled pages, but that didn't bother me much. This was the perfect book for the job.
At the time, I was living in the Adirondack Park. I had just moved there, after living in the Southern Tier for most of my adult life. I was psyched to be living near bogs, forests, and mountains. The surroundings moved me and entered into the realm of my artwork. I took pictures of the land around me all the time. I had developed this little dream of being an Adirondack artist. If someone thought about my or my artwork, I wanted them to associate it with northern Adirondack forests. I wanted to be remembered for the way I depicted this landscape that I love so much. The scenery around me would be a major component of the story and also the pictures that compose The Fair Maid.
Bogs were especially fascinating for me since the Adirondacks are full of them. On any given hike into the wilderness in this region, you will no doubt come across some acid boggy wet land. It's inevitable. Nothing feels more bizarre then sinking bare feet into the sponge-like moss in a fresh Adirondack bog. The plants that grew in the bog also intrigued me and I had all sorts of mental fantasies about possible events that could occur there. Pitcher plants, sundews, peat moss...these things inspire me and fascinate me. They would be great fodder for the book.
In my yard and surrounding me in every direction were the Adirondack forests. Dark, cool, absolutely still...they lured me in and I felt communion there. The plentiful balsams lend their peculiar smell to these woods, and everywhere there is a strong odor of sweet piney forest. I love this smell so much. I would bottle it up and keep it with me wherever I go if I could. In fact, I do possess 2 different little balsam bags full of balsam needles. Every now and then I crush one, close my eyes, and put it up to my face to smell it and let the smell take me to the woods.
These Adirondack plants and forests around me I took into my heart. I hiked often and painted or took pictures every time I could. I swam in creeks and hidden ponds or lakes. I got stuck in icky mud and muck, got eaten alive by black flies and mosquitoes, and I found long lost bridges and camps...Life was an exploration. This got through to my very soul. So when it came time to begin a story, something that I knew I would have to really delve into and spend a lot of working with, I knew that the Adirondacks is where I would begin.


The story begins in Spring, with a fair maid that lived in a bog and filled pitcher plants. She was alone at first. Toiling in the bog, tending to the needs of the plants that grow there, that was her destiny. And then one night she had a dream, a sparkling dream of a man she would meet and come to love. The dream helps her come to the realization that she is quite lonely. The bog seems empty. Many moments are spent in despair as she realizes how much she yearns for someone to share her life with.
One summer day, she comes upon this man. He lives in the balsam wood, in a mushroom house. They do indeed fall in love and every day seems like a snapshot moment. The man decides to ask her to join him and live with him in the balsam wood.
This is a pivotal moment for the Fair Maid. Although she has wanted a partner for some time, and she is convinced that this man is everything she has ever wanted in a partner, she also remembers her duties at the bog and the pitcher plants that must be filled. Without her to fill them, they would certainly die. She declines his offer sadly, and returns to the bog alone. By now, it is fall and winter will soon come.
The Wizard of the North Wind comes upon her and asks her what is wrong. When he discovers her plight he has pity on the lovers, and he casts a spell. The bog shall grow next to the balsams.
Sadness and loneliness envelope The Fair Maid as she hibernates through winter, not knowing that a spell was cast will change her future.
Spring emerges once again, and the Fair Maid awakes to find that the bog is magically now right next to the balsam wood. She can tend to the pitcher plants and also be with her true love. They are together once more, and live in Adirondack bog bliss for the rest of their years.
And that is why a bog can be found at the edge of a balsam wood.

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