I have been involved with a nonprofit in Lincoln Montana for the last several years, the Blackfoot Pathways Sculpture in the Wild is an international sculpture installation featuring some of the world’s foremost artists making land art and environmental sculpture. Go to www.sculptureinthewild.com to learn more about the artists and this amazing project. I spent the month of September in Lincoln volunteering my time to help construct the new pieces by Chris Drury and Tyler Nansen, mostly working with Chris and our intern Dave Tarullo assisting with the building of “Rocky Mountain Ponderosa Whirlpool” that is a 45 foot diameter piece comprised of native logs and rock.
Since I started full-timing in the Airstream back in April I have had a limited income stream so I was unable to financially support the project as I have in the past and since I am wandering around the continent making photographs and chasing trout it was an easy decision to come to Lincoln for the month and give my time. Over the course of the project I donated over 200 hours of labor running tractors, peeling logs and solving logistical problems. I had a lot of fun! Lincoln is located in the Blackfoot River Valley not very far away from where I lived in Helena and home to the Blackfoot River, one of my very favorite places to look for Cutthroat and Brown trout. I managed to get in a couple of days on the river and enjoyed reconnecting with this landscape and the animals and fish that live here. Moose, elk, deer, beaver, mink and eagles we all my companions on the river at one point and the trout did not disappoint either. My time here was wonderful and I was able to make a few photographs as well as meet many new friends. This adventure has become as much about meeting people around the country as it is about making photographs. People are what matters, seeing the world through their eyes and understanding the little that I can about who they are and what matters to them has become the joy in my adventure. In Lincoln I was able to meet Chris Drury and his wife Kay Syrad who are from Brighton, UK and get a glimpse of our country from their view during this weird time where we have two people trying to be president that most people aren’t very excited about. It was a nice perspective and then there is Kevin O’Dwyer the Irishman who is the artistic director for the project. Kevin is a remarkable silversmith and artist with a vision for Lincoln that I am still in awe of, he is passionate and energetic to the point of being contagious to those around him. He also has an interesting perspective on our country during this time, many evenings were spent with CNN on the tube and Kevin reading Huffington Post articles aloud while arguing with the talking heads on the screen. I found it all very entertaining. I spent a month with an Irishman who is more passionate about, and interested in, our politics than the average American that I have met on the road.
This adventure is a great experience for me, I have started to have a deeper understanding and love for myself and grown more aware of the need for community that I have in me. As I move around the continent I find that I am engaging with folks who have a strong sense of and love for their community and I am finding ways of being helpful or useful to them. It is a great feeling to briefly be a part of a community and lend a hand, make real and meaningful connections and then move on. I hope that I am able to be of some help in the places I visit and by photographing the people who make up these communities I am collecting a document or a body of evidence that ordinary people working together are what makes our communities great, not the media hyped individuals who are trying to tell us what we think and what we should care about.
I am heading South now that snow has started falling this first week of October and it’s a sweet sorrow for me, I love this place and my friends here but I am looking forward to being on the move again. Next stop, Bisbee Arizona.