"The Fall"   October 2020

Created with Collected Aspen Leaves

Remote area of White Pine, Colorado

This earth work was created in White Pine Colorado in October and was inspired by a poem I wrote after receiving a Watsu water therapy session. Watsu is is a form of aquatic bodywork where the practitioner gently cradles, moves, stretches, and massages the receiver; the receiver at the mercy of the flow and movement. A practice in letting go fully. As I relaxed into the session I imagined I was a leaf, detached from a tree leaving everything I knew behind at the mercy of a flowing river I fell into. I wrote this poem following the session which later inspired the visual piece.

The Fall

Breathe in, Breathe out

Breathe in, Breathe out

Breathe in, Breathe out

I grow. You grow. We grow.

Sunrise, Sunset

Sunrise, Sunset

Sunrise, Sunset

I grow. You grow. We grow.

A cycle.

A change.

Detached.

Estranged.

I grow. You grow. We grow.

A current. A flow.

Surrender to what I do not know.

I grow. You grow. We grow.

Big thank you to Meghan Layne for volunteering her beautiful voice!

www.meghanlayne.com

"The Gold In The Mountain"   October 2020

Created with Collected Aspen Leaves

Remote area of White Pine, Colorado

I stayed in a secluded off-grid cabin and while walking around the forests I discovered a remote abandoned mining operation in the White Pine area of Colorado. The tracks that came out from its collapsed tunnel ended at a drop off that looked out to a mountain with splashes of gold aspen leaves. I immediately created a metaphor for the "gold in the mountains" - Why dig? This beauty is free. Mines are scattered all throughout the Rockies. A brutal life of hardships in the search for material wealth, an environmental crisis on stolen land for western wealth. The opposite of hardship is pleasure, and pleasure is what brings people in the droves up to these mountains to see to gold the mountain provides at no cost.

These leaves were handpicked along the forest floor, two full trash bags, several hours of cathartic practice. Meditative for sure, it felt like the forest started to meld with me. Two female Stellar Jays would regularly perch just barely a couple feet away, a curious chip monk that seemed to just suddenly appear from time to time, a butterfly landing on me, the quiet constant chatter of aspen leaves, large deer bobbing their heads at me slowly moving through the woods, the belting of elk, and the running water of Tomichi creek. What a treat for the nervous system.

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"Spira Mirabilis"   November 2019

Reclaimed timber and materials.

Liberty Arising Healing and Retreat Center - Boulevard, CA

I titled this piece Spira mirabilis, latin for the miraculous spiral, known to modern math as the Logarithmic Spiral, or to most as the growth spiral, as it is repeated throughout our universe and nature. The spiral curve can be seen in the outward spiral of our galaxy down to the swirl of a hurricane, to the rotation of a bird of prey as it approaches its target, the twisting of a shell, the unraveling growth of a fern, the twirling of a vine, and the structure of growth on many plants like sunflowers, succulents, pine cones, cacti, and roses to name a few. This form also plays a part in our human perception, the curve of the ear spiraling to the eardrum and the nerve structures in our cornea are logarithmic spirals. Spira Mirabilis joins other sacred geometric shapes as proof of natures grand design and perfection proving our universes natural intelligence, a subject I am fascinated with. 

 

On a spiritual level, we can easily build walls around ourselves, but if we choose to step out into the greater world around us and shift our perspectives, we gradually grow and our world becomes bigger with each experience and interaction. In a sense, we all follow this spiral outward of growth, how far your growth spirals arm reaches is up to you.

 

There is something primal and therapeutic about working with the earth and I am grateful to have been able to explore it this year. I wanted to celebrate this miraculous spiral and the personal growth and deep reflection I have had of recent, especially in 2019, living and contributing at a healing retreat in the remote mountain town of Boulevard, California. I had a vision to create a sculpture from a pile of unused, milled, pieces of Lodgepole Pine on the land. The form is secured together by a trench placing large pieces of the wood planks under the earth and stabilized with connective wood pieces on the interior. The sculpture blends into the landscape as if several trees had grown together to create the structure. I placed a few areas to sit, contemplate, and meditate and added two reclaimed mirrors to act as a moment of reflection and play with the space dimensions. The floor of the sculpture is made from bark pieces to give it a sense of movement. The Spira Mirabilis, was completed with handfuls of native wildflower seeds continuing the theme of growth for seasons to come. 

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"My FInal Gift, Life" Earth Sculpture  April 2019

I have been wanting to work with earth sculpture for years and finally felt called to create this 20’ diameter piece out of bark from fallen trees.

I have been wanting to work with earth sculpture for years and finally felt called to create this 20’ diameter piece out of bark from fallen trees.

 

To preface, tin early 2019 I have been working on the land of a retreat center in a remote region of southern California rebuilding gardens and roadway parameters with rocks and logs in an aesthetic way. I found myself enjoying getting my hands dirty and connecting with the earth. It was a meditation, something I felt very present in, as well as an artistic practice in composition and place.

This was one of those projects I felt something greater than myself coming through me. There was a persistent focus and drive to complete it with constant discoveries and inspiration during the process.

A large, old, seemingly dead Coast Live Oak tree at the corner of the property sparked inspiration. Once, this Oak tree as well as many other trees on the land were alive. Years of drought followed by the arrival of an invasive beetle known as the Gold Spotted Oak Borer killed them. I thought about the property owners who spent a summer living under this epic tree, leaving a decaying piano behind. I pondered about all the life this tree provided. Shelter to a passing bobcat, nesting grounds to birds with a never ending supply of insects, home to rabbits, squirrels, and rodents fattening themselves on the abundance of acorns which in turn they became prey for the coyotes, the clean air it created, the mycelium of fungus underground feeding on the decaying organic matter from the tree and its ecosystem above, distributing the nutrients back full circle to the plant. All of this exemplifying nature’s design and intelligence.

“...and now it’s gone”, I thought. “...what a loss...”

I thought of the tree’s death as this void left behind, a symbol of loss. I decided to physically represent that void with a circle made of bark made from fallen trees across the property. I placed the bark in a counter clockwise fashion making my way towards the center to give the feel of motion. At first, I began laying the bark outside up how it sits on the tree, which was primarily a gray. As I worked my way inward, I flipped the bark, using its red interior, until I got to the center which was made using bark I had blackened with fire.

At a point during the process the initial concept of loss changed to life.

As I was collecting the bark and moving it throughout the property and eventually to the final sculpture, I realized that the fallen trees were not the void of life after all. What was a loss for some in the ecosystem was a gain for many others. There were termites, lady bugs, spiders, lizards, and toads taking shelter. New tenants would move in as I would move the piles about the property.

The trees had so much to offer in life, and now, much to offer in death.

The hope is this sculpture will now continue its purpose as a habitat and the tree’s essence lives on and on. The tree’s final gift in life, was it’s death, which in turn provided more life, the natural cycle, a full circle.

All MATERIAL IS PROPERTY OF STEFAN WAYS ©2019

TO CONTACT PLEASE EMAIL: STEFANWAYS@GMAIL.COM

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