Predictably, I tend to draw inspiration from the natural world. Though I’ve not witnessed nearly enough of it– I’m not sure I’ll ever quite get my fill– the simplicity of nature, with twisted vines and sunning turtles, offers me more complexity and variegation of thought than any tall building or bright light could. In that way I’m quite lucky, for as long a there is a tree under which to sit or an ocean into which to wade, I’ll never be lonesome and always remain contented.
Yet living in an old city (old, at least, by American standards) I am sometimes struck, suddenly and abruptly, by these structures man has built. Millions and millions of bricks, laid meticulously by those calloused and worn hands of masons past, form the red chalky partitions that paradoxically conjoin modernity with antiquity. They bear witness to, and are regular victims of, progress; that loaded word whose blunt might is backed by the wrecking ball and the jack hammer. For an admirer, these formations act as both guide and timestamp, telling a story to anyone who’ll listen.
It’s the living history– the 100 year old fingerprints of a long departed laborer whose achievements are in constant use– that sends me into a creative and emotional whirlwind. The scale and steadfastness of the work juxtaposed with the builder’s complete anonymity is heartbreaking and perfect. People sculpt the world around them in all sorts of ways, leaving behind traces of their existence, and often never see the extent to which their efforts are felt. Our hands having rested, then dragged, along enough coarse mortar, these lessons in quiet timelessness inform our work and provoke us to consider more fully notions of longevity.