Pacific Traces Project
For six months my husband and I sailed through the tropical islands of Fiji and New Caledonia, lapped by rising seas and battered by cyclones. During this time, I embarked on a multi arts practice, reflecting the multiple perspectives of the journey, running through time and taking place over a thousand sea miles, including a personal inner journey, a poetic dialogue with my father, during a time when he was dying. Layered with memories of my infancy when he cradled me under palms, seeing with the eyes and heart he raised: an Arab working for NASA, tracking stars and satellites in the Pacific Islands of Hawaii, he taught me every person I met was a poet or a prophet, every path I trod a potential pilgrimage.
In Fiji I met prophets and pastors…I witnessed the sheer tenacity for life when year after year their homes and villages were annihilated by storms, replaced with gratitude for the simplest of things: relationship to each other, devotion, reverence for life, their land, their seas, their fishes. In the beginning of my journey, I wanted to understand how Pacific Islanders live fully faced with the constant existential threat of climate change. During the journey I faced my own challenges seeing my father, who meant so much to me, decline. In the end I wondered whether the very big questions are not really answerable. In the gentle and clear waters of the islands, as I painted, wrote and played with the islanders, I reflected that we cannot always see the grand narrative, and perhaps life is approached most fully by being present, by living fully, as a series of vivid moments.
From this work came an exhibition, a residency, poetry in orbit, narratives peopled with prophets, and, most of all, an amazingly rich appreciation for place and people.