Every winter we return to our studio to create new work for the following show season. The two of us sit together and look through all the photos we have taken throughout the year and we talk about the places we spent time at and whatever adventures we may have had that have led us to this point in the creative process. We can usually only make about 7 - 8 new pieces so we also need to decide if we will spend our time on large pieces this year or small ones or a mixture of both.
As we have started to spend more and more time traveling all over the country we also have begun to look at making work that speaks more universally. It has always been interesting to us that as we talk to people at shows that sometimes people struggle to find commonality with our images in certain locations. Either they love the work because it reminds them of a place they have been or it looks like somewhere they would like to go. So the challenge has always been to create work that speaks to us creatively yet still resonates with the viewer on some level. Sometimes that is easy and sometimes it's not.
Recently we decided to share one of our newest pieces online in a contest. We offered to give one away to anyone who could guess it's location. The results were very interesting. Most people instantly guessed a location near where they were located. When that was not correct, they guessed locations either near where they spent time or where they knew we spent time. A good approach since all of our work is reflective of our experiences on the road. However, since we have expanded our distances this threw a curve ball for many since the image was in a new part of the country for us.
What it showed us though is that regardless of the location, an image will generate a feeling for people about what they feel when they see it. It felt good to see so many different responses because that meant that it really could be anywhere. It's still a beautiful walk along a peaceful river.
So where was it?
It's in Knoxville, Tennessee. In a beautiful Nature Park where we stopped for the day to talk a lovely walk.
But thanks to our contest, it can be anywhere you want it to be....
Bonnie Harmston works side by side with her husband Steve and travels the art show circuit with him.