I recently read this line in a friends post and was delighted by the visual it brought to mind. That of myself, faded overalls rolled to the knees, hoe in hand, and bare feet plunged into the newly turned soil of my garden. While I don’t generally garden barefoot, the notion of being so connected to the earth as to expose ones skin to the dirt is one I embrace. I love to get into the soil with my ungloved hands and sense the needs of my garden through my fingertips. Too much clay, not enough compost, a little more water, are things I feel are sensed more accurately by the touch of my skin than any high tech gardening device. But then I have had years of practice in the studio with that beautiful earth I use to create my sculptures.
Touch is as essential to my work as a heartbeat is to life. No matter how much creative thought goes into the development of a project, the work will not come to life without the touch of my hands. And as my sight continues to fade in the coming years, my hands will tell me what my eyes cannot. Feeling the firmness of the clay to determine if it is ready to stand on it’s own: exploring the textures layed out across the surface of a newly rolled slab to determine if it will be interesting enough, sensing the coolness of the clay to know how much time is left to finish the details, all things that my hands can do much better than my eyes.
And what an amazing thing it is to create from the very material God used to create man. I often imagine the Masters hand scooping up the newborn earth , squishing it between His mighty fingers to test it’s properties, then forming the many features of that first human. Maybe the earth does desire to kiss our naked feet as means to connect with its kindred spirit.
So, what are we waiting for. Kick off your shoes and dig your toes into the loamy soil.. Take off those gloves and embrace that stubborn clay in the garden and ponder the humble beginnings of creation. I’ll be in the studio letting the earth kiss my naked hands. And maybe if I get a little extra creative, and flexible, I’ll even let it kiss my feet.