Father Barnhart has perhaps described here why I am drawn to the vertical in my work. In contemplative awareness I dwell on the ontological connection between heaven above and earth below. This is not a reaching so much as a discovering and honoring sensibility. I find in this statement, as I find in much of Fr. Barnhart’s writing, affirmation of my visual and contemplative experience.
However my interest did not begin with this conscious awareness. I was first drawn to the vertical for the way in which it holds the contemplative gaze. There is no wandering in this looking. It is a more centered visual engagement. There is a focus in the consideration of vertical forms that is absent in the broader horizontal.
When I first began making Stone Poems, in 1999, I was very touched by the braveness of the gentle but urgent vertical gestures of precariously balanced stones against the broad Montana skyline. How they stood up against the odds. They echoed the energy of the fragile flower arrangements I had been painting, as well as the delicacy of the Suspended Objects in that series of painting-constructions. There is a prayer in that gesture, a physically enacted yearning of the spirit, to know this ontological axis intimately. In fact, to live inside it, in a way, grounded, yet upright, engaging both heaven and earth.