Houses in the Woods

Made during an artist residency at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, Otis, Oregon.

During my residency, I lived alone in the Kennon House, a ten minute walk from the studio and the other residents. I usually walked back and forth between my house and the studio two or three times a day. After a week or so, I began to feel comfortable and settled. My walks to and from the studio were nothing special, but it was during one of these walks that I noticed the roof of my neighbor’s house. I was on top of the hill looking down on the house and the roof was a big, glowing square. In that light, it was reflecting a pale, dull, purple. It stood out so distinctly next to the dark vertical forms of the spruces and the bright new green of the undergrowth. And it brought such a strange shape to the composition of the forest. The sight of that roof really struck me. After that experience, I started noticing other manmade shapes in the woods, other rooftops and walls. The houses and buildings of the Cascade Head community try to blend into the forest. There are no unnatural paint colors or ornaments, just natural wood siding. But for all the effort to be inconspicuous, the houses were what stood out the most for me.

These manmade structures interrupt the visual chaos of the forest: a seemingly infinite variety of plant life bursting through the ground, reaching upward, competing for space and light, growing over and around each other. And then a blue rectangle, the distinct edges of a triangle, a peaked roof. These simple geometric structures are like rest stops for the eyes, a place where you can recover from the overwhelming patterns, colors, and abundance of the woods.

Despite all the natural beauty around me, Cascade Head, the estuary, etc., the only subject matter that really interested me was the House in the Woods.

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