a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
I was awarded an Artist-in-Park month-long residency at Zion National Park as a tapestry weaver in September 2014. I planned to experience and interpret Zion in a different way than most people experience or perhaps interpret it. When one spends only a short while in places such as Zion, the impressive geology and terrain command all senses. However, if one has enough time to become familiar with a sense of place in these types of environments, the hidden life that is the heart of it becomes very apparent. The Park is heavily visited, hosting nearly 500,000 visitors in September alone. I was living in the iconic Grotto House and quickly discovered that the Virgin River was just short a stroll from there through tall grass and stands of beautiful cottonwood trees. The little trail that runs along its banks was virtually unvisited, giving me time and space for contemplative solitude away from the daily masses of people. I usually visited the river several times each day and became very attuned to even small changes along its banks. September 2014 in Zion was marked by many rainstorms, some severe enough to close down the entire Park for portions of time. I witnessed over and over the Virgin River’s transition from a milky rivulet to a raging boulder-filled, chocolate-colored torrent that carved its banks relentlessly and then slowly dissipated back to its normal flow state as the storms abated, leaving behind evidence of every violent carnage. The sandy banks were wiped clean after every storm, becoming a blank palette for the comings and goings of the canyon’s creatures. With a few rounds of sketching and simple cell phone photography after rainstorms, I developed the design for canyon tide using two of my photographic images to create a transparent collage of the canyon’s cliffs superimposed over a view looking straight down onto the river and its bank marked with tracks of turkeys, smaller birds, and insects. After returning home, I wove canyon tide, which was donated to Zion National Park to become part of their permanent collection as stipulated by the residency requirements. This tapestry epitomizes the invisible world of the Virgin River in Zion National Park I was so fortunate to witness during my time in residence at Grotto House.
This artwork was produced under the Artist-in-Residence Program at Zion National Park.
Lyn Hart is a visual artist and emerging poet living in the Sonoran Desert near Tucson, Arizona. She works in several mediums—art weaving, mixed media collage, and artist books. When poetry began emerging in her artist statements and artist books, she embraced writing as its own creative pursuit. Lyn’s poetry and visual art is influenced by the extreme desert Southwest; her writing is also flavored by her childhood and young adulthood experiences in rural New York and coastal Florida. Her work has been exhibited in both local and national venues and is held in public and private collections. Lyn’s love and exploration of the desert Southwest began after moving to Tucson in 1997, and was enhanced during several years of work as a volunteer naturalist at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area in the 2010s, followed by a yearlong 2018 Arts Fellowship at the University of Arizona’s Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill.