There are so many stories that I could have told for this challenge, but all of them build upon the story of my roots. My Iowan roots. And the roots that I’ve very consciously chosen to put down in Iowa, too. My designs are about the land and the connection that I’ve had to it my entire life.
I’m the product of a long line of Dutch farmers who made their way to the plains of Iowa. My dad’s farm has been in the family for at least 3 generations and before long, it will belong to someone else. It’s the story of so many family farms in the Midwest. Growing up, our lives revolved around the cyclical rhythm involved in planting and harvesting the crops. I have many fond memories of bringing lunch to my dad in the field, throwing down an old blanket and sitting at the field’s edge together. Even better was when he let me come along for a ride. It didn’t matter if it was the tractor or the combine… it was about stepping into my dad’s world for a while.
The reason that mapping the geography of my life involves a representation of the land I grew up on is because the land stands for so much more to me. I don’t just see mile upon mile of endless fields. I see my family’s past; a way of life. Ordinary days that have combined to become a lifetime and also a legacy to me and many other relatives. My patterns are a small way for me to honor the qualities they have passed down, like faith in God, independence, perseverance, hard-work, and humility. The experience of living on a farm taught me to notice the beauty and detail in nature and to make sure my life is geared down enough to appreciate the simple things in life. So many of these qualities make me a better designer…and that’s why my past is such an integral part of my present today.
My primary print is named “Acres of Plenty.” It’s a representation of the pattern that is formed by the land, itself. If you’ve ever flown into the Midwest, you’ve seen the patchwork of land from the sky. “Oceans of Green” was developed from a topographic map of the land that I grew up on. The name was inspired by the way that waves of wind wash over fields of soybeans, exposing the silver undersides of the leaves and turning them back to green again. It’s a beautiful sight that I saw often during my bean-riding days of high school.
In terms of color, black and white are dominant in my main print. That’s because the Iowan landscape is one of contrast and extremes. It can be 100 degrees, with 95% humidity and -20 degrees with a wicked wind chill that makes it feel 20 degrees colder still. The additional colors were derived from the actual colors of the landscape…blues, greens, and gold.
Although I have lived in the city and abroad, there is something about the land where I grew up that will always feel like home to me. It becomes a part of you and I realize what a tremendous gift it was. Thanks, mom and dad…for raising me on a farm.