EXPORTED: Colleen RJC Bratton - Chasing Storms in the Midwest June 29 2015

Seattle-based fibers artist Colleen RJC Bratton recently spent the month of May traveling across the Midwest with her dad, chasing storms and taking in new landscapes. Vignettes invited her to share the documentation of her road trip and her thoughts on how the landscapes she witnessed are impacting and inspiring her work.

Enjoy today's Exported with Colleen: 

Colleen RJC Bratton at Grand Canyon National Park
 
For the past 20 years my dad has wanted to go on a road trip to chase and photograph the big spring thunderstorms in the Midwest and Great Plains. Growing up my dad, a landscape photographer, would take us kids on adventures to see natural sites. These escapades instilled within me a desire for wide open spaces. As far back as I can remember I've practiced spontaneous departures. I climbed the canyons behind our house as a nine-year-old, explored the cloned tree farms in high school, sped down farm roads every summer during college and now I roam in the woods and on the beaches of the Pacific Northwest. Some of the most memorable moments happened for me during those times. The expansive landscape illuminates the smallness of myself and humbles me. It also opens up a sense of wonder and mystery: how could something be so beautiful and yet so terrifying at the same time?

I heartily accepted my dad's invitation to come on the spring storm trip with him in May. We traversed over 7,500 miles in twelve days through ten different states; most of which I'd never been to before.
 
Appaloosas in Brule, Nebraska
  
Cheyenne, Wyoming
  
Rita Blanca Grasslands
  
Sunset in Sumner, Nebraska
  
Claude, Texas sunset
  
Storm in Hartley, Texas
  
Storm in Hartley, Texas
  
The heavy rain the previous week of our trip caused everything to bloom: wildflowers in Nebraska, Yucca plants in Texas, and cacti in New Mexico. The rain also saturated the colors of the soil and rocks: the reds of Palo Duro Canyon, the pinks of the National Petrified Forest, and the purples of the Grand Canyon. Everything became illuminated, including my spirit.
  
Palo Duro Canyon
 
Bryce Canyon sunrise
 
Bryce Canyon 
 
Field in Matador, Texas
 
Zion National Park Archway
 
Zion National Park
  
Grand Canyon National Park
  
Lipan Point, Grand Canyon National Park
  
Petrified Forest National Park
 
Petrified Forest National Park
  
While on this trip I fell in love with the abandoned buildings and old farmsteads along country roads, their materials and forms weathered down by countless storms and gusting winds. These shifted frameworks expanded my concept of the homestead and the effects of time and trial placed upon it. Back in the studio, the colors of the canyons and parks I visited are already seeping into new work. I've begun sketching new structures inspired by the abandoned buildings. It's only been a few weeks since my trip but I can already feel my work starting to consider the future and the past more than it did before.
 
House in Graham, Kansas
 
House in Rita Blanca National Grasslands
  
House in Rita Blanca National Grasslands
  
Interior House in Rita Blanca National Grasslands
 
Rita Blanca National Grasslands House
 
Window to Rita Blanca National Grasslands
 
Minden, Nebraska Church Interior
  
Window in Snyder, Texas