Nature has always brought me enormous comfort in times that were, otherwise, highly uncomfortable. As we continue to navigate what it means to have our worlds become smaller due to quarantine, I have found myself turning to my constant companions—the trees that surround my house, the moss and leaves that cover the path leading up to my door, and the views of the nearby Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges—to keep me from feeling confined and remind me that I am not alone, and that there are much greater things happening outside of myself to focus on. I am lucky to live on five acres in southern Oregon, which allows me the freedom to explore safely and in solitude, and I recently started gathering found objects on the land surrounding my house during my explorations. Anything that catches my eye or inspires my imagination comes home with me and becomes fodder for some sort of creative expression later on. This kind of foraging has helped me feel more connected to my immediate environment, which in turn, provides me with a sense of grounding and discovery. The idea that an adventure awaits just outside my front door has been especially helpful for my mental health during times like this, when movement in my town and the world in general has become limited.
Assemblage is a form of three-dimensional visual art whose compositions are formed from everyday items, usually called "found objects.” Nature assemblage uses objects found in nature. After I have gathered enough objects to create what I feel will be an interesting assemblage, I spread my findings out on a table, along with collage materials I have cut out from magazines or—most recently—my 2020 calendar, and start assembling them in a way that feels good. There is no right or wrong way to put your objects together...the idea is to turn your brain off and allow your creativity to take the lead! Creating little worlds allows yours to expand and, because nothing is glued down, you also have the freedom to change your “world” if you’re not happy with it. Once I arrive at a place where my assemblage feels finished, I photograph my scene so I can return to it as many times as I like, and either gather up my materials to be put back in a box for later use, or return them back to nature. The impermanence of the little worlds I create reminds me that what is happening in the greater world is also impermanent. This is but a season, and things will change. Just as the now brown leaves on the path to my house will eventually be green and the flowers on the trees will once again bloom...the scenes I create will become brighter and more hopeful as well—and so will I. I encourage you to take a moment to discover what awaits you just outside your front door and allow yourself to be inspired by what you find!