Red Right Returning
In January of 2014, a late delivery of fuel shut down the furnace at Elmwood Farm, my two hundred year old farmhouse in Camden, Maine. The pipes froze, then burst with a fury during a midwinter thaw, soaking the contents and devastating the structure. My home was soon stripped to its core, leaving little more than a shell of raw studs, windows, and earth.
I salvaged what I could. The house had been built in the late 1700’s, using premium wood milled from a forest of Kings Pines that circled the property. The flooring was comprised of 36” boards, which rested on large, hand carved joists. The walls were thick – tongue and groove paneling insulated with two layers of plaster and horsehair held together by hand hewn lath. The patina and layers of history fascinated me, and I hung many of the scarred boards in my studio.
As I spent the better part of that summer restoring furniture damaged by the flood, three wall panels from the old kitchen hung silently in the background , taunting me as I labored over tables and chests of drawers. There was an AHA moment one night, when I began to see images submerged in the marred wood – horizons, fields, oceans, clouds, compositions that referenced landscapes – specifically water. I began highlighting the layers within the boards with chalk paint – and soon discovered narratives hidden in their chips and scars. The resulting series became Red Right Returning – a nautical term that signals a safe course into harbor marked by red buoys.
Swimmers tread water, ski on sand, fight riptides, avoid sinkholes in their quest for safety. I played off the auras that surrounded these figures as they moved with unsure footing. My own life was in turmoil at the time – I found myself in rough seas without a compass.
I made a decision live and work in Maine year round – happy now, in my new, old, house.