Have you ever been on a pilgrimage? I can now say that I have. Granted my version of a pilgrimage involved very little walking, especially when compared to pilgrimages of historical significance. My pilgrimage also includes way more donuts, because, donuts!
My sister and her husband decided to plan a trip to Canada, and in a moment of insanity, invited my brother, my fiancé and myself along. Now the destination was more specific than just Canada, our destination, the reason for the pilgrimage was The Belleisle Bay. This body of water is the end destination, and was the end destination for the yearly pilgrimage my grandfather made from Durham NC every year for over twenty years. A retired English professor, my grandfather was originally from Canada, and spent the first year of his life on a farm on the Belleisle Bay. He returned as an adult to build a summer cabin, and spent many summers of his life on the beautiful shores. My mother and uncles grew up spending their summers there as well.
As a result I grew up hearing stories about the Bay, and even visited a few times as a young child. However this was to be our first trip back in 14 years.
My work as an artist has become more and more about water, and had, until this point, been about the waters I grew up with in North Carolina as they have been endangered by pollution. As we prepared for this trip, and I communicated with my cousins in Canada, I realized that there are plans to build a pipeline near the Belleisle, and within the area that flooding would reach. The risk of a spill endanger the pristine waters of the bay, and consequently the St. John River. This trip was becoming about more than just my family traveling to our motherland. This is about all the bodies of water that all the people become connected to, and form attachments with, and how they are in danger.
Being in Canada was an experience that has inspired me and will continue to influence my work in ways I can’t even imagine. I felt a connection to the bay that goes beyond familial.