Sunday, October 3, 2021

The Houses of the Four Directions

Lynn Webster

June - August 2021

The Houses of the Four Directions

I sit and look through the ocular window at dawn light, kissed by a soft wind and expanding through leaves .  I could hear this first house on the Rensing property calling me to apply for a residency.  I wanted to experience the presence of that particular space.  The idea of home has permeated my work for a long time.  HOME carries so many meanings.  I have a deep concern that as humans we often forget to notice the homes of creatures that were there before us.  When I saw pictures of this little house tucked into the deep woods of South Carolina, I saw a place created to be a sanctuary for humans while honoring the lives of the creatures that have long lived in these ancient forests.   

Rensing Center itself is a place of sanctuary for creativity.  Rensing offers resident artists the openness of allowing a planned residency to transform under the influence of the place.   After a few days here, I began to think about this particular home with four walls and a roof—like many of our houses, essentially a box, and I also began to wonder how the house sees herself. What does she see when she looks out? 

I also recalled my various visits to Navajo country and how the hogan is a mirror for the cosmology of the Dineh.  That cosmology, like the cosmologies of many native peoples, centers the importance of the four directions.  For the Dineh and the Pueblo people, the four sacred mountains define their homeland.  The hogan, their home, is a microcosm of their homeland.  A hogan's door faces east to offer the prayers of dawn, for inspiration.  The south opens to the day and work.  To the west are offered evening prayers for family and friends and a place to rest.  To the north, the mystery of night and prayers of protection and healing.

This Rensing home's ocular window dominates the east wall and provides a magical eye of inspiration—ever changing light and color.  To the south, beautiful trees  and grasses support the work of many creatures.  To the west, through the screened porch, a density of trees.  And to the north, at night, the silhouette shapes of trees accompany sleep. 

I came here with the idea of doing an installation and thinking of prayer strips hanging from a tree.  This idea was transformed by the house. The four small rag-board houses that I have created reflect what the house might see as her connection to the four directions and to nature.  These four houses will hang from the Tulip tree close to the Forge building near the entrance to the Rensing Center property.  They will arrive in summer and spend the four seasons in weather and wind.  I may gather their remnants next spring to begin an archeology of my own work. I offer them as a gift to the spirit of  Rensing Center and I hope these houses, blooming in the Tulip tree, will engage the community.  I hope when we consider building homes that we consider the creatures and plants around us and not displace them, but rather let them embrace us.   I am grateful to the Center for this opportunity and for the good work they continue in the arts community as a whole and in Pickens County.  

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