Squirma is what I silently called the hurricane in the week preceding its arrival. Silently so that its guiding goddess would not hear me and reign destruction upon our household. Our psychologist friends probably have a term for what I was doing. In renaming, even mocking, the oncoming danger I was trying to ease my anxiety.
Whether one stayed or evacuated, we all handled our anxiety in different ways. It was very disconcerting to be able to see its every move, every day, yet still be unsure what its path would be until hours beforehand.
My family decided to stay, but also made preparations to evacuate to a local shelter should it take the worst possible route up the west coast and into Tampa Bay. We utilized every piece of plywood we could find, including the pieces that were sheathing Vera’s playhouse.
And including the pieces onto which my newest works, Kintsugi Scrolls, were being prepared.
I had to dismantle them. A couple of the works still bear the scars of being hastily removed. My many thanks to Nancy Niss and her incredible skill for being able to hide the scars.
Irma brought up some very important issues for me. As an artist who makes work on wood panel and whose inventory is composed of pieces mainly exceeding 4 ft. in dimension, I cannot quickly transport anything. I keep all of my pieces in my studio, wrapped in plastic.
During the run up to the hurricane, I worried about our roofs. Our house is poured concrete and essentially a bunker. We are high and dry at 53’ above sea level. But a Cat 4 or 5 don’t care about none of that. Especially the studio roof since it has open eaves.
So, as we diligently prepared as a family, I did come to terms with and accept the possibility of total loss of 5 years of work. I am very proud of the paintings I’ve made and wish more than anything that they will be acquired for either private or public collection. But, the physical objects have been made, exhibited, and received by my community and while their loss would be sad for me, what I chose to remember and cherish were all of the relationships and friendships that were a result of those journeys.
Another issue that came up for me was the portability of sacred objects in our distant past. As the impending apocalypse approached, I wondered what purpose art would serve in times of survivalism and what form that art would take. If art carries the symbols of our most sacred experiences, does it need to be 6 x 8ft? Should I refocus my effort on making work that is mobile and portable? Or should I just cross that bridge when I come to it?