The Helpers | Leonardo/ISASTwith Arizona State University

The Helpers

By Leah Dyjak

The history of this place is like the fog, thick and enchanted. At one moment we are enveloped in its mystery, its care, the next the sun breaks through and we can see outward again. We are all finding our way in the fog here. 

Our current field guide is being written by this history, the astrological makeup of this moment and our dream life. It has been a collective experience navigating the waking world in this artists paradise. There is an ebb and flow to each day as we dance around each other in our individual working rhythms. This pattern is like a dream its self allowing us to connect to something bigger-that elusive space where ideas fleet through the fields before one's eyes. Here, we can chase them. Run after those ideas feverishly until have found it but are now lost on the other side. No map no phone. Here, we can be lost and connect to the internal compass and direction of the land.  There are guides amongst the trees and in the fields. Works of art that were made by previous residents assuring us that we are in the right place and we can wander far off the path and make new ones. For me, this is big work. To trust this instinct and this process and my ability to make my own maps and to be of use somehow. 

A week ago today, an artist Devra Freedlander, whom I did not know but whose work I connected with was struck and killed by a truck on her bike in NYC. She was 28. The same age as Pamela Djerassi, in whose name this residency was started, when she left this world on July 5, 1978. I wonder if Devra would have eventually found her way here, to install one of her enigmatic large scale works on one of the hillsides. Because time was abruptly stopped for both of these women we will never know but their energy imbues my time here, spanning generations hopefully radiating outward.

I have found comfort in a specific grove of redwoods. Where the massive stumps left over from days of logging are surrounded by an altar of new redwoods, springing up from the moment their time was violently cut short. The new trees are the guardians of history, a reminder to us as we sit by the brook. Mortal time is short. We operate in a collective network of care even for those have physically left our sight.  These two women are part of my web right now. There is a sign placed in the grove of which I speak. It reads: 

"The Day is not to Scale" (from Fados in the Rain, pg 28) 


-Days in a lunar cycle-a menstrual cycle-the cycles that connect us through time and space. Histories and futures. 

Most days are to scale blending into each other. The days of great loss are not to scale, nor were the short lives of Pamela and Devra. 

I am making a ladder and thinking about the net under a golden bridge. Thinking about the ways we must reach for each other, catch each other when falling, pick up the pieces of broken hearts.