2020 – A year behind glass

Hey there 2020, I’ve spent so much time silently glaring and swearing at you it’s hard to believe we’re almost at the end. Like many of you I’ve read and followed each ugly news story knowing I need to stop the doom scrolling but it’s tough to turn away from so many stories of sorrow and outrage. I’m taking baby steps toward more positive online interactions, dipping my toes back into Instagram and reaching out to friends I’ve not connected with in far too long hoping the simple exercise of looking for share worthy moments reminds things weren’t terrible and frightening all the time.

One thing stands out to me today is how much of this year has been lived behind or viewed through glass. Windows, electronic screens and yes, even wine glasses have become our new connection points bringing both joy and frustration while also framing of some of my favorite photos from the past 12 months. In classic Northwest Frame of Mind style let’s take a look.

February 29th, Leap Day, was the last time John, Ryan and I attended a large gathering, spending the afternoon at a wine tasting event filled with fresh food, live music and plenty of lovely wine. COVID was a nervous whisper in the background, no one was sure if it would really change things, but we were starting to consider stocking up on a extra groceries and maybe staying home for a few weekends just to be safe.

Three months later we were still home every weekend watching the world transform into a strange and scary place. As essential workers our days were condensed to quick commutes (no traffic) and changed workplaces filled with the new norms of masks, sanitizing stations and very few coworkers. All of this left me with very little to see that was new so I turned my gaze back to happier days and picked some favorite photos for artistic makeovers. All editing done through a screen on my iPad.

By July a few areas of our state reopened for small gatherings and we decided to risk a trip to the islands. We rented a house, filled our car with a weeks worth of groceries and took the quietest summer ferry trip I’ve ever experienced. A normal travel year meant 3-4 hour waits to board a boat, then windswept walks along the outside upper decks while sailing to our destination. This year there were no lines, half empty boats and loudspeaker recordings announcing we weren’t allowed to leave our cars for the duration of the trip. The silver lining was a front row position where we could watch the water through our windshield. Safe in our bubble, behind the glass.

We had a lovely week, sleeping in, hiking on quiet trails, skipping rocks on empty beaches and on our last night away I took this photo from the car window as Ryan drove us back to the rental for one final sunset BBQ.

We remained close to home for the rest of the summer, avoiding crowds and trying to make simple life feel fun while hoping we could escape the small circle of our new reality for some fall hiking. Wildfire season put a stop to that as you can see from this photo, taken from my dining room window at noon on September 12th. With air quality ratings in the very unhealthy/hazardous range our last month of potential PNW sunshine was spent inside, in front of windows and more screens.

The end of summer meant election season was front and center and with it came more changes, this time to my volunteering plans. I usually spend hours in September and October phone banking and canvasing for favorite candidates and in 2020, with so much on the line, we had planned to spend most weekends in October getting out the vote. I still logged plenty of volunteer hours but this time they were spent virtually as a member of both national and state level digital outreach teams. Yep, more screen time. Most of our chosen candidates won their races though and on November 10th John, Ryan and I toasted Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as they were announced President Elect and Vice-President Elect.

My final image is the December photo that inspired this year-end post. Once again I was inside looking out but an evening of couch time, quietly editing photos on my phone while John and Ryan watched tv left me with one image I really liked. Thoughts of a years worth of views filtered and compressed through lenses, windows, mirrors and screens came together and here we are closing 2020 behind two layers of glass, facing forward with the past in a mirror. Cheers to a brighter, clearer, safer and happier 2021!

Illustrate

Interesting phenomena occur when two or more rhythmic patterns are combined, and these phenomena illustrate very aptly the enrichment of information that occurs when one description is combined with another.

Gregory Bateson

We’ve spent the spring inside, unable to visit parks, beaches, wide open spaces.. This sudden onset of an unwelcome new-normal pushed me to reevaluate favorite views through a changed perspective, searching for new techniques to create images more appropriate to where we find ourselves. An artistic shift to renew, reuse and recycle as I view our natural surroundings through the surreal framing of present time and social distance instead of the past-normal habits of easy travel and casual conversations.

Representations of natural elements and the dynamics of family connections have shifted to focus on color and emotion instead of traditional photo realism. An opportunity to capture singular feelings of mystery, nature, freshness and color. We’re staying home together yet looking out to a new, changed future.

Filled with contradictions I have pages of ideas and images to share but these budding stories conflict with an equally sharp need for privacy. For safety in the quiet solitude of home, my carefully controlled space. I want to go exploring, leave the boundaries of my yard, but I also want to stay inside just a little longer. The desire to re-engage in public life warring with the desire for privacy. It’s hard to find a middle ground when everything shifts by the hour.

As I work through my own conflicting thoughts I’m spending time immersed in two different creative styles and techniques expressing different emotions. Green, lyrical and peaceful balanced with red, bold and loud. Moods and emotions complementing this time of intense change and growth.