Literary Sources 

In my work, I often use sentences and fragments of text that recount the wilderness experience. Some of my sources are books that appeal to me because they were written long before global warming, when there were still large glaciers in the Rockies and thick snow-pack.  It was a time before GPS navigation on everyone’s phone, and we didn't need warnings against posting selfies that would reveal wilderness locations leading to overuse.  And yet, despite the undeniable cultural and environmental changes, the experience of wilderness, the idea of wilderness, hasn’t altered all that much. There is still a sense of awe, an intimation of geological time, and the humbling, existential insight, somehow comforting, of our own comparable insignificance.

 

Isabella Bird    A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains  1879

Bird was a British explorer and best-selling author who travelled the world. She was the first woman “allowed” to join the Royal Geographic Society.  The book is based on letters she wrote during her travels in Colorado in 1873 when she was 32. 

 

John Muir   Travels in Alaska 1915    Steep Trails 1918

A naturalist and writer, Muir was the co-founder of the Sierra Club and became famous for his writings on Yosemite, which helped preserve it as a National Park.

 

Jack Kerouac   Dharma Bums 1958  Desolation Angels   written 1956, pub.1965

The “beat” generation writer spent a summer as a fire watcher in an isolated mountaintop tower in the Cascades, and both books include long passages on his wilderness impressions.

 

Wallace Stegner  Angle of Repose 1971  The Sound of Mountain Water 1946

Stegner was a pulitzer prize winning author of the American west, whose fiction and non-fiction confront the degradation of the land and the inadequacy of western mythology. 

Below is a sample of artwork that uses text. Please contact me with any comments or inquiries.

"Not Only of Rivers" 

30" x 40"

A sentence hand-written in pencil from John Muir's Steep Trails is faintly visible at the bottom of this painting.

"Mountains are fountains not only of rivers and fertile soil but of men."

"While I Slept" 

48" x 36"

This painting includes another hand-written sentence from Jack Kerouac's
Desolation Angels.

"While I Slept and travelled in dreams all night, the mountains didn't move at all and I doubt they dreamed."

"In Dreams Alone" 

40" x 30"

A stenciled sentence from Isabella Bird's A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains adds poetry to this abstracted mountain landscape.

"Mountains they looked not of this earth but such as one sees in dreams alone."

© 2020 by Phyllis Anderson Art. 

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