This past winter, I spent two months in Denmark, at the Guldagergaard International Ceramics Research Center. The refugee situation in Europe was forefront in the news and on everyone’s mind. As I had always drawn roots, and seen them as symbols, I started wondering what it would be like to pull up your roots, leave everything familiar behind, and move to a foreign country. It was easy to romanticize that question, and soon I came to see that this is an extremely complex issue.
Two pieces of writing served as the bookends of this investigation:
If I can find
Nowhere to live
Then let me live nowhere
In this hut of sticks
As flimsy as the world itself.
“Roots burrow into the ground, twist in the mud and thrive in darkness. They hold trees in captivity from their inception and nourish them at the price of blackmail, ‘Free yourself and you’ll die!’
Trees…need their roots. Men do not. We breathe light and covet the heavens…What matters to us are roads…Roads hold out promises, bear our weight, urge us on…”
—from the preface of Origins, by Maalouf