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what can a body be, or, great salt (lake) dreaming

by Sarah Ann Woodbury


Artist Statement

I created this piece, “what can a body be, or great salt (lake) dreaming,” in collaboration with Great Salt Lake and Red-Necked Phalarope. As a Utahn raised along the shores of the saline body of Great Salt Lake, I have been held by her throughout my life. It was a memory of her smell and muck and shimmer that carried me through personal identity crises in my early 20s, so when I learned of her suffering years ago, I was struck with grief. I dedicated a large part of myself to her and entered into an intentional apprenticeship with her ways. This piece speaks with multiple styles of being—from bird to human to lake—and asks the sentient lake embodied questions like, "What is it like to be an ancient, rolling body? What do the lake’s dreams feel like when threaded through human bodies?" It gently listens for the muscled and poetic songs that rise up. 

As a land-based multidisciplinary artist, I create poetry, songs, stories, research, and performances in embedded conversation with the sentient bodies around me. Many of my works turn toward and imagine with the more-than-human world, doing so from a fundamentally embodied place. This process opens my muscles and writings toward wild teachers. I humbly rely on physical encounters and cultivated familiarity to make pieces that explore the vastly varied knowledges of other beings. At their core, I see artworks I participate in as emerging from—and with—the lands and waters I inhabit as an animal. I seek to honor their lives with my body and voice.

Sarah Ann Woodbury lives nestled against the Bear River Mountains, where she writes, studies socio-ecology, and performs for her dog, local trees and canyons, and other willing audiences. Her recent work can be found in The American Journal of Poetry and CALYX.

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