Holding / Held

Holding/Held is a collaborative sculptural installation for participants to consider and share how the natural world supports them in times of seeking refuge, and how they in turn collaborate with nature to support healthy ecosystems in the natural world. This installation asks: How are you held by natural spaces? How do you hold them?

Understanding how our well being is inextricably entwined with the well-being of the animals and plants we are in community with takes time and presence. It is our responsibility as a species to restore balance in the world if we want future generations to enjoy the world as we know it. This restoration work begins with deepening our relationships, which will in turn change our behaviors. Just changing our language to regard other living beings as they/them or calling them by their name and not thinking of them as “it” will go a long way! 

This project offers an opportunity to take some time to collaborate with a clam! The clam has returned to the earth but their shell remains. Each shell was taken from the habitat from which the clam grew. What can we give back in return? Making a commitment to collaborate with the clam is a giving gesture that offers hope for new behaviors as people more and more start to see themselves in relationship with all other living beings as opposed to consumers of them. 

On one side of the shell, participants are invited to collaborate with the forms, textures and marks to enhance the beauty of the shell. On the other side of the shell, they are invited to share a reflection. Shells are available to paint in the Newburyport Art Association’s Hartson Gallery at 65 Water St. and at Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center.

These will be installed inside or framing a hand silhouette overlooking the marsh at the Joppa Flats Education Center. One composition is “Held” and the other is “Holding”. From afar, the collection of shells will tell about our community’s commitment to create more balance in giving and receiving gifts with the earth. The work will evolve during the month of October, suggesting that the progression of care is ongoing and duarational, that growth is an ongoing process no matter what stage someone is in. New perspectives can always be learned that help us be more engaged in our world. This installation is meant to offer perspective and love.

The clamshell was chosen for its significance to Joppa Flats: there are clam beds in the intertidal zone, and clamming was the first industry of settlers to this area. Ancient shell middens have been found in the area, and clamming continues to this day.

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