Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Launch of the Charles W. Morgan

“Human beings have always celebrated resurrection, restoration, renewal and return.
The only thing greater than the miracle of life itself can sometimes seem to be
the miracle of something brought back to life…"
 Ric Burns, Mystic Seaport, July 21, 2013

This July 21st, the 172nd anniversary of the Charles W. Morgan’s first voyage, the last wooden whaleship in the world was lowered back into the Mystic River after 5 years of painstaking restoration.

I have been documenting the restoration of the Morgan with Dalvero Academy since 2009, so it was a very exciting day for us to be able to witness and document her return to the water. Our show, Restoring a Past, Charting a Future, will still be on view at Mystic Seaport through this September.

We arrived the day before to see her out on dry land one last time, this time perched at the edge of the pier on her stilts.

The Morgan boasted a fresh new paint job since our last visit, with numbers on her bow that we knew would soon be submerged in the river. 

Most of the ship we had drawn and explored for 4 years would soon be gone, and I couldn’t help feeling a bit of melancholy along with the excitement.

The next morning, we arrived early to see the set-up, only to be greeted by giant storm clouds and intermittent downpours. We huddled inside sheds, under overhangs, and under the tents watching as the ship’s crew prepared for the day ahead.

The crew toasted her rebirth with a swig of rum, and then passed the bottle to us, like part of the team.

Finally the clouds parted, and crowds began to fill every corner of the shipyard. 

Quentin Snediker, the head of the shipyard and our guide through the restoration process, attended to the preparations with stoic calm.

More and more spectators filtered in, buzzing with anticipation.

State troopers surrounded the center platform as curious kayakers began to flock around the river to watch the ceremony.

The speeches began with the president of Mystic Seaport, Stephen C. White, as he proclaimed the magnitude and the significance of the Morgan’s next journey.

Camera crews swirled as the dignitaries gave their speeches, with the keynote from documentary filmmaker, Ric Burns.

The honor of the christening of the ship was given to Sarah Bullard, the great-great-great granddaughter of Charles W. Morgan himself.

Bullard’s granddaughter, little Polly Morgan and her family waved to her from the crowd. She will be the next generation to inherit the Morgan and her legacy.

The snowy haired duo, Quentin Snediker and Sarah Bullard, stood beneath crowning bow of the ship, like proud parents sending their daughter off into the world.

The ship would be christened with water from each of the seas the Morgan sailed, and a drop of rum for luck.

With a crash, Bullard inaugurated the Morgan's descent into the water, and a cheer erupted from the shipyard and the river.

We all watched as she began to disappear into the river, and I noticed Quentin looking on. Only he and the shipwrights could know the thousands of hours and hands that went into carefully shaping each timber and plank of wood that now disappeared beneath the water, gently cradling the ship and keeping her afloat. At the end of her slow descent, the numbers on her bow vanished, one by one into the water. As the '9' broke the surface, the call went out "She is afloat!" and again the crowd burst into raucous applause.

As she went beneath the water, I imagined all the hands and souls that left their mark and went down with her. I watched her there, half submerged, hoping that the generations to come will know how far her depths reach below that water.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Monet's Gardens


The next stop for drawing after the Canson Prix was to Monet's Gardens in Giverny, about 45 minutes outside of Paris. My mom, Chris, and I took the train out to the country early in the morning and spent the whole day wandering around the house and the extravagant grounds that Monet created.

Outside the house, the gardens are so thick with flowers that it's hard to find the paths in between the flowerbeds. From fence to fence, there are irises in every shade of purple and yellow, as big as grapefruits, peonies the size of basketballs, and poppies bigger than dinner plates resting on the ground because their comparatively puny stems can't support them.

It is a wonderland for an impressionist, with every color, mark, and shape imaginable, crammed into a beautiful plot on the French countryside.

With each flower more spectacular than the next, it was hard to focus on one thing for very long. I felt like one of the lucky Giverny honey bees flitting from flower to flower, trying my best not to sting any dazed, ambling tourists that got in my way.

Every once in a while a single flower happened to jump out.

Compared to the rowdy mob of flowers near the house, each shouting for attention, Monet's famous waterlily pond was like a quiet conversation between friends about how pretty they all are.

The tranquil pond, ringed with weeping willows and irises, and dotted with lilies and baby ducklings, is like a fairytale (stuffed with as many tourists as can possibly fit). It is easy to see how Monet could have spent the last years of his life needing nothing but to contemplate the little oasis he created for himself.

Friday, July 5, 2013

"Patterns" at the Woods Hole Film Festival

I am very excited to announce that my animated short "Patterns" is an official selection for the Woods Hole Film Festival in Cape Cod, and will be screening there August 1st.

This carved wood animated short tells the stories of hundreds of years of life, death, and rebirth etched into the wood of the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaleship in the world. The whaleship is currently being restored at Mystic Seaport, and will be put back in the water July 21st. The animation was created as part of a group show with Dalvero Academy at Mystic Seaport. I think it's a wonderful place for a festival premiere, because the Morgan will be sailing to Cape Cod after its restoration is complete! You can view the trailer below:

You can take a look at more stills from the animation here:

The screening information is below:

August 1, 2013
5:00 PM
Prior to "The Roper"
Lillie Auditorium
Cape Cod, MA

To purchase tickets, please visit the festival page for the film here: