“How we live our days, of course, is how we live our lives.”
“You don’t run down the present, pursue it with baited hooks and nets. You wait for it, empty-handed, and you are filled. You’ll have fish left over.”
— Annie Dillard
Past, present, future. The artists in this show reflect on our relationship to time.
Our time in history is known as an age of distraction. We struggle to pay attention. Our inattention is a sign of worry: we’re worried about the future, and we’re worried about our past. We’re not great at peacefully remaining in the unmediated present, even though spiritual teachers of all types know this is key. Pastor Clif Roth has often taught our church that our presence is the most important thing we can give to people. To do this well, we need to not worry about the past, and Jesus taught us in the sermon on the mount not to worry about the future. Humorously, he said, “...tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Reflecting on the past without worry, or actively engaging the present, the artists in this show are mastering the spiritual discipline of attentiveness.
Catherine Hale’s grid of prints references her grandfather’s loss of memory. As the printing block was reproduced, it held less ink and faded, just like her grandfather’s memory faded.
Jordan Lienhoop also deals with memory. By weaving together various moments from her family’s photos, she reminds us that no moment stands on its own. All the moments piling up in our lives relate to all the other moments.
Likewise, my own (Michael Winters) collection of daily pictures catalogue the continuum of the present. Each day the present slips into the stream of the past. These photographs attempt to pay attention to the present and thus build an archive of reference points to the past.
Cherith Lundin’s photographs of skylights function as meditations on the present. She documents light as it was in a specific day and time, never to be repeated exactly the same way again.