‘Travelogue’ was a personal project completed in 2019, to explore my own family history and generational ties to the land.
Travelogue – Project Statement
The Bas-Saint-Laurent is a region of Appalachian Mountain plateaus and lowlands stretching to the salt marshes of the Saint Lawrence River. Islands of earth in the river and islands of trees on land mark the landscape as it winds toward the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. There is a faint smell of salt air reminiscent of the sea, and a stronger one of sulphur in the marshes. The rustling of brown grasses mark the transition into the foothills, which contain dappled light and ancient volcanic rock of the Taconic Range. Mists blanket the lowlands at night.
This summer I travelled to this area of Canada to study the land of my ancestry. I had a deep and growing desire to see the place where my people came through and settled in. To walk the land, feel the soil with my fingers, and smell the air. To familiarize myself viscerally with a place that I felt was somehow part of me, part of who I am, but that I had never actually experienced. I spent time drawing and painting in the salt marshes, where the river is so wide the far shore disappears behind the islands in its center. The days were made up of hiking along farms and in wooded areas, sketching along dirt roads, eating local bread, and being shown how to forage local wild plants that tasted like the sea. I found a graveyard full of people with my name, and learned about the history of the region; the farming and colonization of the land, the long and ice-covered winters, and the losses to the native communities. I read poetry about women dealing with difficult things, and considered the many secrets given up to the land. I rode a ferry to the north side of the Saint Lawrence River and marveled at the width of the river as it approaches the gulf.
These paintings and drawings were created in response to the land, based on sketches, drawings, and references made while traveling. With each one, I can return to the places, to remember and respond to the feel of the land. Of all the years that the land has called me, it calls me still.