Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The real woman of Apifera

It seems like everything that comes into my life lately - articles people send me, comments from readers, or just random thoughts as I drive- compound my sense of place here within the boundaries of Apifera. And in reality, everything I write and paint is really a resonance of that sense of place I have developed here. Lately though, I've been feeling I need to guard those boundaries more.

When I came here in 2004, I had city roots with tiny tendrils connected to the memories of visits to my uncles farm. I had lived in cities - Minneapolis, New York and months at a time in some east coast places and I experienced living in Europe, leaving me with vivid memories and sensations of that culture. I was happy in the city and I'm so glad I was raised there so I could take in the wealth of art and education.

But even as a little creature, my eye always focused on an animal, a bird in a tree, or a salamander under the porch. When I was five, my parents moved us from the city to a 5 acre parcel into a tiny cottage that had been the caretaker house of the larger property near by. I was in heaven. When I think about it, most of my intense memories of the past, the ones that make me miss my parents or family, are from that house. I think we all have intense pockets of time in our lives, periods where it is intensely good, or periods where things were really tough going. For me, that little cottage was my first real memory of having a sense of place in the world, a sense of 'I'm safe here'. And the world I created within that 5 acre parcel was just as vivid, imaginative and comforting as Apifera is now.
At age five, I could spend all day alone in my sumac castle with the comfort of knowing my caretaker was in the house baking or cooking, always there for me, always wise and strong. I never had to doubt that. And I knew I could be free to think in my own way in that sumac castle, no one was watching me, or expressing doubt in me, or disapproval as to how I drew a butterfly, or wore my pants backwards. I knew that the guests in that home could not hurt me, or wound me, as long as my parents were there.

When guest were invited into that little haven I called home, there were clear boundaries for them - rooms with closed doors were out of bounds, food was revered and appreciated when passed by the host and everyone was nice to the dog. I would fall asleep on those nights, with my door slightly cracked, so I could hear the grown ups talk. It always lulled me to sleep- they were close by, but I had my own room and could think on my own as my eyes began to close. To this day, if I go to bed before Martyn, and he has the TV on in the living room, it comforts me and makes me feel so loved and safe.

I think that place from 50 years ago is what I always sought, and have found here at Apifera. The characters that come and go are different, the land is farther west, but the main subject still dresses slightly odd, and has castles of blackberry to hide in. She still is uncomfortable with transgressors - those who cross into her Apifera boundaries with misconceived notions of just who she is. She is flawed, evolving, kind but impatient with bullies. She is more comfortable sharing her feelings and passions through art, or stories, or the mouths of puppets. Her farm is more than the sepia photographs, and her carefully worded blog posts are edited to give the reader a genuine experience and sensation of one snippet of one woman's one moment in one day. She bristles at guests that arrive on her farm and want her to step out of that sepia photo, and be what they perceive her to be from her online presence. That's when she wants to retreat to the blackberry bramble, or have a monologue with the barn.


Sharon Stanley said...

well said...i love what you said about ..."intense pockets of time..." and memories of your parents talking reminded me of waking very early in the morning and hearing the milk man clink up to the porch and then later hearing breakfast sounds & my daddy's spoon stirring his coffee in the morning...they were sounds of comfort...like this post alot.

Spring Lake Farm said...

Sometimes when I read your blog it's like being inside my own head.

I'm not a writer....I'm more of a talker. But sometimes when I read your posts my first thought is...that's what I have felt, or thought, or experienced, or written, or said....(OK probably not have written because...well I'm not a writer....but now I'm being redundant).

All that to say, I really enjoy reading your posts! ;)


pRiyA said...

That was beautiful. Gives me a lot to think about my own life. And the strength and peace in your painting in this post is one of the reasons I started visiting here.

Jennifer Morrison said...

One of the most remarkable learning moments I ever had was when I discovered that I had the strongest sense of ME when I was a child. For various reasons I meandered away from ME into and throughout adulthood.

Knowing that now, I am able to craft my life after the ME I knew from the start.

Reading this beautiful post has reminded me of that, and substantiated my understanding of where my sense of self comes from.


ps - one of the reasons I read you is that you have found your HOME/PLACE. I'm still searching. But I'll find it.


hawksnestfarm said...

thank you katherine...

makes me wonder about what memories are being cultivated for my kids...

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Sharon, hearing your dad's spoon, oh just sweet. Spring Lake, I will take every word as a compliment. Priya, thank you. Jennifer, I think many [especially women] wander away, and I'm glad you wandered back to you! Pbird, yes, just think of the memories for both you and children, each day. I think of that even with Martyn, these days will become warmth in my elderly years.

Anonymous said...

I understand. I moved from the completely urban environment of London, England to the completely rural environment of a tiny hamlet in Wales and have settled in here so well, sharing my life with wild birds and other creatures that I feel most myself here. I'd always felt I was in the wrong place, in London - the whole of my life really - and now I'm here, I'm home, I'm me. Thanks for writing this post.


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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~