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About Andie Thrams: Visual artist Andie Thrams uses watercolors in wildland forests to create paintings and artist’s books exploring mystery, reverence and delight, while grappling with the vanishing habitats of our era. Merging the lineages of natural history field journals and illuminated manuscripts with contemporary art and science awareness. Her work weaves layers of shape, color and hand-lettered text to evoke the interconnections within ecosystems of the Greater West. Her latest project is Forest Prayer Flags. Her life as an artist was profoundly impacted by her 2004 residency at Sitka Center for Art & Ecology and she is forever grateful for the nurturing culture Sitka continues to create in support of art, artists and ecology.
Thrams shares this: FOREST PRAYER FLAGS arose out of a desire to investigate grief, beauty and interconnection; to share images and science; to invoke the sacred, bear witness and invite action. The project began in early 2020, during pandemic isolation, when I felt moved to respond to the overwhelming uncertainty and sadness of our Anthropocene era, and to participate in the worldwide EXTRACTION art movement. To investigate mounting despair over widespread denial of science, racial/social/sexual inequities, fake news, gun violence, frightening politics, worldwide habitat destruction and species extinction, catastrophic wildfire, not to mention climate change, I chose to focus on the personal and the doable. While my artwork usually embraces biophilic experiences in forests, I turned my gaze towards solastalgia—the heartache of environmental damage and habitat loss. I decided to use art to explore my grief over forest devastation in the West. To begin the project, I designed a lightweight folding easel that fits into a pack, allowing me to work in a tall scroll-like format in remote places. I chose a somber palette, in alignment with my emotions. In addition to watercolors and gouache, I decided I would also draw and paint with found forest materials like tree sap, wildfire charcoal, and twigs dipped in ink.When I enter a forest, I express gratitude, ask that my energies and those of the forest entwine within my work, and invoke hope that what I do is towards the protection of all forest beings. While painting, I consider illumination and shadow, black and white, growth and destruction, death and life, interconnection and separateness. I invite the full spectrum of emotions to arise, gazing steadfastly into sadness and reveling in delight. I pause regularly to take in the beauty, the horror, and the mystery. I often cry. Forest Prayer Flags offer imagery, information and hopeful actions. To weave contemporary science into the work, I interview scientists about their research on topics including climate change, tree mortality, fungal networks, megafires and the future of Western forests. Each prayer flag is paired with a specific concept of contemporary science, along with a suggestion for a positive action. Paradoxically, the more I allow grief a place in my work, the more I also experience joy, hope and find energy to take action. Best of all, sharing this project seems to empower others too. I look forward to continuing to share this project through future exhibitions, outdoor installations and classes for children and adults on how to make their own Forest Prayer Flags. The ancient practice of hanging prayer flags outdoors originated in southeast Asia, where it is believed that winds carry blessings depicted on prayer flags over the landscape to all beings. May the winds carry blessings of healing and resilience throughout the forest and beyond.
Andie shares how she created the project FOREST PRAYER FLAGS.
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