Nature's Abstractions: Gifts from Glacier National Park

I have to admit, this was my first experience camping in a National Park. I always felt spoiled by the bounty of natural beauty here in Pacific Northwest and spent many camping trips exploring the region with my family. As the kids got older it was more of a push for us to find the time and the energy to put together a camping trip. Camping with three kids gave a different meaning to the term, “working vacation”. Now that the kids were out of the house, my husband and I decided to reclaim and redefine our camping experience by leaving the Northwest to camp in Glacier National Park in Montana.

I had not spent any time in Montana or visited any other National Park so I had vague expectations of mountains, streams, lots of trees, yada, yada, yada. I had no idea of the native, undefined and undomesticated beauty that awaited me. I found myself thinking that I could be on another planet. This was a place that reminded me of a work of art created by a masterful craftsman assisted by the tools of time, geology, and weather. I was not only in awe of the incredible vistas of mountain, meadow and river unfolding in every direction, but was equally drawn to nature’s minutiae. I started looking down as well as out and up. I was propelled to look beyond the panoramic views to what lay beneath.

Literally, with every step taken in Glacier I took notice of a myriad of objects which appeared as living vignettes of abstract art. I found shape, line, repetition, value and color embedded seamlessly in the geology and the botany of the forest, meadow and mountaintop. Surrounded by these small refinements I began to frame abstract work as a metaphor for nature. I realize this is no news flash to the art world but there was something magical about personal discovery.

I came away with a deeper understanding of abstraction, new inspiration for my own work and an incredible appreciation for nature’s gifts. Most of all, I am grateful that places like Glacier National Park still exist and am hopeful that there is a will to insure that these national treasures are protected for generations to come.