. . . now they only block the sun. They rain and snow on everyone. So many things I would have done. But clouds got in my way. — Joni Mitchell
To continue …
Back home in Idaho after my Jentel residency, I was obsessed. Plus, I had a mission. The University of Wyoming invited me to submit a proposal for an installation. My gut instincts told me—clouds. I immersed myself in everything I could learn about these self-perpetuating systems of precipitation.
Then, a surprise invitation gave me a second chance to study Wyoming clouds in-situ. Six months after Jentel, I was invited to “test pilot” a new artist residency at Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga. Lucky for me, it’s less than an hour’s drive from the UW, which made another site visit possible.
During my Brush Creek artist residency, the predictable unpredictability of clouds continued to ply me with inspiration, thankfully less dramatically than during my Jentel residency
Most days, clear early morning skies quickly bloomed with fluffy white puffs. By early afternoon, they most often congealed into bulging grey clumps. Rumbling with thunder, streaked with lightning, they sashayed to and fro between nearby Snowy Range and the surrounding high dessert plateaus. Curiously, the rain was minimal, and the sky would soon clear.
My memories of Wyoming’s big sky vistas and rocky terrains will always be etched with clouds. They seem as inseparable from the landscapes here as pre-Cambrian granite is from the glacial lakes of Snowy Range.
Here’s what I said in my installation proposal: Science aside, the locus of magic dwells for me between metaphor and metaphysics. Clouds are as mutable and fluid as the moments flowing through our days. Gathering momentum, intensifying, thickening with possibility, thinning into nothingness again and again … ad infinitum. Surely, there can be no better metaphor than clouds for what Shakespeare dubbed the “caprice of time.”