October 22, 2012

Art that’s Easy to Swallow. ~ Jennifer Townsend

I think it’s commendable that in this Age of Conscious Consumerism, an artist can live her truth by practicing eco-friendly art.

For the past 25 years Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon has commissioned a different local artist to create the labeling & packaging artwork for their winter seasonal brew, “Jubelale.” This year they chose Kaycee Anseth Townsend, whose eco-friendly artistic process is essentially recycling tiny pieces of paper into intricate collages.

 The 2012 label is literally ‘layered’ with meaning—the artwork was created through a complex collaging process by Bend, Oregon artist Kaycee Anseth Townsend. She uses small scraps of paper to create designs, and she comprised this year’s packaging entirely from pieces of Jubelale labels from years past…Bend Artist Kaycee Anseth Townsend said, “My artistic process of collaging a completely new image from tiny bits of paper often feels like working a puzzle, and using only the past years Jubelale labels as my materials for this project added an extra challenge to the process. It allowed me to really get to know each past label, appreciate the work that went into each one, and also think about how I could repurpose different aspects of that work: sky was used to create snowflakes, snow became light, cabin roofs became trees, a pint glass became a lamppost. ~ CraftBeer.com
For some reason, the idea of a cabin roof becoming a tree and a pint glass becoming a lamppost makes my heart happy.

 I take discarded fashion and decor magazines, vehicles that ultimately, even in their beauty, serve the consumer culture. I take these ads, essentially, and destroy them. I cut them up into pieces, and then put them back together. It is time-consuming, and obsessive, but at the same time it is like folding a paper crane. It is Bhakti Yoga, an act of devotion. It is the lighting of candles. It is my dedication, and my prayer. Sometimes it’s a prayer of absolute heartache, an act that I have to have faith in, believing the process is not futile. Sometimes it’s a prayer of jubilation and revelry. Sometimes it’s a prayer for the whole wide world, and sometimes it’s a selfish kind of prayer for a moment of mindlessness and escape. ~ Kaycee Anseth




There is a story, if you haven’t heard, about a man walking on a beach. The shoreline is full of beached starfish, as far as the eye can see. He keeps walking along, and comes upon a little boy who is patiently grabbing one starfish at a time and throwing them back into the water. The man stops the little boy and says something very adult- like. “How futile! You will never be able to save all these starfish, little boy! It doesn’t matter!” The little boy grins at him, picks up another starfish, and says “It matters to this one!” and tosses it back to its home.
I didn’t start out this piece with starfish on the shore. It started with the figure in a shell dress, with the readings I’ve been doing lately for my yoga practice about the body as a home for your spirit, not something your spirit just wears and discards, so to speak. Through my yoga teacher training in October, and through my yoga practice in general, I’ve been attempting to see every action as a little prayer, every mundane task such as doing dishes or tidying my space as a way to create a more sacred space. Coming to the world with this attitude is a hopeful one. This way, no act ever seems futile (especially facing the enormity of all the disaster in the world). And not to be preachy, but it seems much more joyful to align myself with the little boy throwing starfish into the sea. ~ Kaycee  Anseth Townsend
Jennifer Townsend is Co-Chief of Clan Townsend, noted for its wee heathens and furry beasties. She is fond of saying “verra.” She is verra determined to visit Scotland (particularly Eilean Donan Castle) before too long. Finn Brothers’ music is good for her soul and she can be found most days editing articles for elephantjournal.com or blogging about her obsession with Jamie Fraser on her website www.OutlanderFan.com or its corresponding facebook page here


Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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Photos: [Kaycee Anseth Townsend]

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