One of my favorite things to say lately, is that a person cannot describe a place like The Ruins Project in one sentence.
The things that happen here just wont fit in a box. We could call it a giant learning substrate. But what is it teaching? The past is certainly at the top of the list. The past of coal mining history. The people who worked to build the modern world. But it also embraces the now of today. For each person who walks through it or works in it, The Ruins gently encourages you to be present as you place one foot in front of the other, leaning in to inspect a detail you missed the last time around. For the artist who works on a mosaic here, or in their home studio, The Ruins insists that you block out the distractions and focus on that most important here and now action; process. The act of making the art keeps the artist in that fleeting moment of right now.
And then there is the future. Words like potential and possibility roll off my tongue when I lead visitors on a tour. And maybe, now that I think on it, the word hope is also a part of that mix for the future. That old saying of how a society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit. Having no children of my own, maybe I will be an old woman, planting trees, both literal and figurative, with hope for the people of the future.
But let me get to the point of this writing. I reached a milestone last week that, for a 21st century artist, is actually kind of exciting. After several years of exploring the world of Instagram and sharing my art and the art of The Ruins artists, my account reached 10 thousand followers.
The connections I have made with many of these ten thousand cannot be overstated. Friendships have been forged, relationships have been made, seemingly out of thin air, across the world. Say what you will about the evils of the social network, they are only as good or bad as you choose to make them.
To celebrate this milestone, I teamed up with one of these talented mosaic friends, Rachel Davies to create a giveaway. A piece of original Sager Mosaics art and an exclusive online spot in one of Rachel’s coveted slate workshops.
Rachel (the other Rachel) had the brilliant idea to ask each participant to share when they would travel if they could time travel. Brilliant question!
It turns out, people love to answer this question. From the Paris of The Impressionists, to the court of Katherine The Great, the answers are fascinating. I shall make a list below because I just love sharing all the time travelers choices. It is no surprise of course that many of the art loving participants chose art related journeys.
The ancient city of Ephesus, 10th century BC to see those ruins of the seven wonders. 1890 Auvers, France to watch Vincent paint plein air. Way back to the time of The Olmecs to ask them why they carved the heads. A masked ball in 1800’s Venice. A visit to the time of the mysterious builders of Newgrange. Helping to build the mosaic floors of Herculaneum. There is not room to share them all, but words like Ramses II, Edith Piaf, mid-century modern, Gaudi, Byzantium, Florence during The Renaissance, The Roaring Twenties.
There were a few who chose primordial times, before The Anthropocene made its marks on the earth.
You get the idea. Creative people love details and the comments were chock full of descriptions. Totally worth heading over to https://www.instagram.com/sagermosaics/ to read through them.
And here for Rachel Davies https://www.instagram.com/racheldaviesmosaics/
And to see The Winner, of course!
Then there were the heart wrenchers. So many of you chose to go back to grandparents and ancestors. Farms, outhouse treks through the snow, laundry hanging on the line, conversations missed, a chance to collect forgotten stories and heal regrets. I noticed a clear aching for simpler times.
Only a handful of hopefuls choosing The Future. Some to see children and students grown. Others just hoping that the years ahead will bring better things. Rachel Davies shares her choice as one of the hopefuls. Not too far ahead, just enough to be free to visit and hug family and friends. I love how she doesn’t want to travel too far ahead and miss her own life story.
My own choice? If I were wearing rose colored glasses (as any time traveler will do as they step through the time portal for their fantasy) I would go to a late 1700’s homestead somewhere in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Carving out an ordered life from the wilderness has pulled at my gene sensibilities since childhood. Think fence building, root cellars, fiddle playing around a fire. I would look up the kin of my great, great, great grandfather who lost his leg for The Union in The Civil War.
But my official choice is the year 1895, or as my great-grandmother liked to pronounce the year of her birth, eighteen hundred and 95. I would watch as the Pittsburgh Coal Company made its first moves to open up Banning #2 coal mine. I would listen to the languages of new immigrants. I would not look away at the dark events that all coal mines had in common, but I would hope for moments of humanity that any time in history will have.
And hopefully, I would get to come back to the now and share more stories of what The Ruins used to be.
Would you share your time travel choice? Please leave one in the comment section and I will reply. And consider going to Instagram also. I post there daily and share the rich and complex world of The Ruins Artists.