By James E. Johnson
This series of photographs came out of the
notion of the Wildness Within all of us, as natural beings. This
notion was introduced to me at one of the Minnesota Men’s Conferences in
the 1980’s where we read a Grimm’s Brothers Fairy Tale story of Iron
Hans. Years later the notion became clearer in the book Iron John
by Robert Bly which is his version of the story.
book Robert describes the character of Iron John as a metaphor for the
Wildness Within - the need to unite with our Natural Self that lives
inside all of us. Its not the macho violent Rambo character or getting out
of control and causing problems although that may be part of it, because
getting high and letting it all hang out is a way of trying to touch that
spirit. Hence the naming of all mind altering substances as Spirits.
This need is to connect with a deep spiritual passion within that is
loving and compassion for the natural world.
notion of Wildness Within came up again in one of our Woolly Mammoth
monthly meetings that have various topics of discussion. The topic was on
The Essence of PASSION Woolly Brother
Mark and I came up with the topic and hosted the discussion. After the
meeting I continued thinking about what Passion means for me and I decided
that when I make a photo or a drawing they contain aspects of PASSION:
– the contemplation of Nature.
LOVE – feeling and seeing the beauty of Life.
TRIUMPH – capturing the essence of the scene
ANGUISH – missing a photo that I envisioned or not getting the right
focus, light or composition.
As a practicing visual artist
unconsciously I use these Aspects of PASSION which EXCITE and lead to a
KEEN and INTENSE INTEREST that moves my emotional spirit to create.
notion came up again at another monthly Woolly meeting. I don’t remember
the topic title; it had to do with - what motivates us - what RELIEVES
STRESS – what makes fire in our bellies. Like most of our topics they are
elaborations on earlier topics. For me photography and drawing are the
most calming and peaceful activity I can do for myself, its like pouring
honey over my soul.
third topic that I am working with in my series is the annual Woolly topic
of PILGRIMAGE. My journey began when I left my beloved city of
Minneapolis, where I have lived in the center of urban life and arts
community for 60 of my 62 years. While working as an exhibit designer for
a museum in South Dakota I met Mikki, a beautiful lady who lives on a
ranch in Northern South Dakota. I invited her to come to Minneapolis and
she did. We fell in love, she stayed and after a year in the city she
longed for the open range. We decided to move to her ranch and pursue my
childhood dream of being a cowboy. The dream version of the cowboy has now
become my reality and part of my Pilgrimage.
Living on the Ranch on the Northern Plains I am discovering my true
NATURE, finding my Passion – my Stress Reliever - my Pilgrimage - in the
lushness of NATURE.
vastness of the Plains, Unlimited Vistas, Clouds, Wild and domestic
Animals, the plant world and all the natural cycles of Birth and Death -
Living on instinct - One of my teachers Marten Purcell a South American
Shaman calls it “ The Deliciousness of Nature ”.
it is with this “Deliciousness of Nature” notion that I have begun my
Pilgrimage - the search for the Wildness
Within Nature - you and me.
This work is copywrited by the
artist and permission is needed for use.