THE RIVER STONE SERIES
following the wrong gods home
As a culture, we are following false gods, and our rivers and wildlife are paying the price.
While hiking once in the North Cascades, I emerged from the woods to the banks of the Skagit River and found myself on a beach covered in the most beautiful river stones. Studying the shore, I realized that even the stones of a river have a story, a moment suspended in time at the mercy of the ever changing river. The Skagit is the largest and most biologically important river draining into the Puget Sound, vital to the survival of precious Pacific Northwest wildlife such as the American Bald Eagle, Chinook Salmon and through the salmon, the Puget Sound Orcas. This series is my personal response to environmental degradation.
Each of these original oil paintings within this series takes its title from poetry that chooses to celebrate the truth in nature, and the misguidance in following the wrong gods home.
“If you don’t know the kind of person I am, and I don’t know the kind of person you are, a pattern that others made may prevail in the world, and following the wrong gods home we may miss our star.” – William Stafford
Progression comes not only from doing, but from reflecting upon what we do, and adjusting for the next step forward. As creatures of habit, living in a society that values structure, routine, and efficiency, it is often easy to overlook or ignore the importance of consideration, and walk along the same path. Repetition, though the path itself is stemmed with avenues of opportunity for change, can render one complacent or stagnant, destined only to follow a predetermined sequence.
“Following the Wrong Gods Home”, a series of oil paintings by Patricia Halsell, depicts intimate studies of river stone beds that line the banks of the Skagit River in the North Cascades. Conceptually, her meticulous observations stand more as reflective commentary on the impact human industrial growth has had on the surrounding environment, and the push to re-evaluate our interactions with nature in all of its simplicities and complexities. From my perspective, the carefully curated selection created space for a cathartic, cogitative experience. It felt almost as if I was crawling along the ground, exploring the miniature pockets of life that stir within the hollows between rocks, wood and soil. Sitting alone in the silent gallery, immersed in naturally soothing applications of color and layers of stone, I found myself re-visiting walks I would take along the rocky shores of Ireland, or explorations along the stream beds of rural Connecticut; places I call home, that harbor natural safe havens for me to sit alone with my internal narratives and reverberations. Spaces where I could digest my own human experience, and follow in toe the gods that would guide me along my own path to self-progression.