Prairie Forward

 
Folded Canvas

Folded Canvas

Near Augusta, Montana : : 2017

Near Augusta, Montana : : 2017

Sage : : Badlands, South Dakota

Sage : : Badlands, South Dakota

I have a neatly folded pile of heavy cotton canvas and one day soon I plan to unfold it and attach it to a wall. I won’t need to build a frame because I’ll gesso it on the wall, paint it on the wall and display it in the same way. I’ll need to re-arrange my current studio space to accommodate it, or I may have to rent the corner of a warehouse somewhere else. Once it’s unfolded, it’ll be close to nine feet by thirty-six feet. I purchased the bulk canvas in 2008 and used half of it to assemble four stretched canvases. Each canvas was 60” x 60”. I have a lot of material left over and that’s what I’ll use to paint something big. I imagine it’ll incorporate some view of eastern Montana, one of the Badlands, the summer fields of Iowa, or another enormous horizon from my youth—one that’s peppered with sagebrush, grazing cattle, or collapsing cutbanks. It’s usually silly though to predict what a painting will actually become, but I like thinking about it.

I imagine a space that I can walk into—that I can lose myself in, my spatial reference points completely in question because my eyes and my head can’t sync things up. It might shift what other people think they’re seeing too—a quiet suspension of disbelief. The space might feel like the countless road trips I’ve taken during the day and at night; in the hot dust of August and in the crisp nights of winter. At some point on every trip I pull the vehicle over to the side of the road, or into an adjacent field and stay awhile. If it’s dark, I stare up into the sky and lose myself in a blanket of stars. Sometimes in the daylight, I’ll open the tailgate and sit with my lunch, or dinner. If the cooler is still cold, I might have the food Jeenee prepared special along with my thermos of hot coffee. If I’m almost in the middle of nowhere, I’ll hear crickets, grasshoppers and meadowlarks surround me. It’s a full prairie immersion. It’s like swimming in it. If I’m lucky, once in awhile in open country near Circle, Ringling, or Augusta, the air will be still with the heavy smell of sage and sweet grass, and it will overtake me while I just drift there; just drifting.

© C. Davidson