Book Design, Exhibit Concept
Community building is an important part of the work of art maker and
writer Cara Thompson. She has spent the last two years curating and
organizing art exhibitions, events and workshops in her local community, including an exhibit of special needs artwork at the Seattle Art
Museum, community installation projects at the Grunewald Guild,
and monthly ArtWalks showcasing new artists at the Bainbridge Island
Special Needs Foundation. Currently she has been helping to bring
together the different communities involved in the Dungeness project both for the exhibition and the overall design and publication of
Dungeness, the book.
A Lost Trail: The Creation of Dungeness
The process of bringing Dungeness together has been the uncovering of a lost trail, a legendary Indian Highway, more complex, haphazard, passionate and enchanting than this book can convey. I say uncovering because we didn’t seem to have a map, or at least not one we could read. It seems we never accomplished what we set out to do, as Karen and I adventure. At times we embarked spontaneously, at times with unrealistic itineraries, wearing our bathing suits under our shorts, with bikes waving like a banner, barely strapped on to the back of her blue toy car questing to the Olympic Peninsula.
Before I came into this hurly-burly book bonanza, Karen had her own undertaking: researching and writing Dungeness for more than 10 years, calling on some magical inspiration from the curiosity, candor and pride of one S’Klallam woman, an original. When Karen finished, the book had become more than just a historical fiction novel but a coming-of-age story with some history, some philosophy, some native lore, some regional myth, and some-thing that had never been done before! Karen knew that sharing her story would call for more than just words, but a whole crew of imginative people coming together to shape an old story in a new way.
At this time Karen asked me to add artwork to the story and design the text. As we struggled, now together, to assemble the pages, we fell upon the secret message of the hidden narrative, while listening to the stories of the visionary artists Joe Ives, Jimmy Price and Cathy Macgregor; eating Indian tacos at a pow-wow at the Port Gamble Tribe; dividing an apple pancake with Mary Ann Lambert’s family; and visiting S’Klallam language classes. We spent the summer of 2015 finishing Dungeness while learning how to carve our very own portrait masks from a wise Master Carver! As we ventured further into the unknown, whether our mini-expeditions were successful or not, at the end of the day there was always a cider and a salmon sandwich at Sirens, a distinguished pub in historic Port Townsend.
The secret message: if you want to shine a light on something: look up, look down, look back and listen. What we learned on the journey has inspired the Dungeness revisionist-history contemporary art exhibition.
However creative, unsystematic, or outlandish our project became, Dungeness kept moving forward, inspiring a collaborative multimedia art exhibit at Northwind Arts Center in Port Townsend, a symposium led by three of the foremost women authors writing on S’Klallam history, and a series of gratitude gatherings for all those who made this project possible.
In Karen’s words: “Overall this entire project has been forged in friendship,” with the Tribes, the families, the galleries, the librarians, the historians, the artists, the past, the present, and between Karen and I. Friendship has no map; friends make maps together. Dungeness is just a sappy glistening of what we uncovered. The book is our map to a place of love and chance. – Cara Thompson