Alignment and Shepherding

Abigail Doan | Studio
2 min readMay 31, 2019

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[ from the archives | 2017 ]

Walking Libraries 2017 | materials on my work table

Summer is often viewed as the slow time, a time when the elements remind us to reframe our daily movements, let go of ingrained patterns, and possibly examine how one might realign objects and materials in one’s immediate environs. My own summer has been focused on identifying ways to create improved flow between my art practice and my home life, with specific emphasis on generating work that makes more sense in relation to the complexity of daily activity.

The Artist Residency in Motherhood (ARIM) project that I participated in from May 1 to July 1, 2017 was instrumental in helping me to think more holistically about life as an artist who does not always adhere to conventional studio methods or platforms for sharing.

I do not report to a studio every day; I do not have the predictability of a set schedule; I often do not have the free time or the professional discipline to create what I feel is most essential to advancing my current body of work. Alternatively, I use walking as a way to connect self with space. I study the atmosphere and also feel motivated to action by environmental concerns. I am a surveyor and administrator of relative, mothering phenomena.

Because of this, I recently became pre-occupied with the word alignment, as I feel that it is the most helpful term for me when it seems as if my actions or intentions are simply not falling in place. When researching the word’s meaning, I came across several definitions that made sense to me.

  • arrangement in a straight line, or in correct or appropriate relative positions
  • a position of agreement or alliance

Which brought me back to ideas and imagery that I have formerly created regarding the shepherding of bodies and/or materials across space. I honestly feel that I have become more of a shepherd than an artist these days, both conceptually and practically. I am guiding my children, myself and perhaps others each day, while also searching for better ways to move ideas and materials over increasingly fragile or unpredictable terrain.

We are all on the move it seems, no matter how much we try to slow down or adhere to a sustainable program. Is there a way, though, where we might better shepherd each other or tend to shared terrain in ways that do not create limitations on how we creatively forage or cultivate alliance?

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Abigail Doan | Studio

projects and writing exploring the intersections of site-specific, landscape phenomena and art lab/design methodologies.