Sunday, September 22nd

Land Art - Journal Entry No. 7

9:05 am - Motel 6 Courtyard, Holbrook, Arizona

It’s amazing how time can really change a person; especially when its length is just a mere ten days. Yes, this short time period has already given me an altered perception of my life in New York and as I become closer to the artists in the group and continue to embrace this unfamiliar setting, I am confident that I have become a better person as a result of it. It’s the small things I’ve begun to notice in my day to day interactions. Just yesterday I left the Grand Canyon in hopelessness, feeling both distant from the life I’m used too, but also unsatisfied with the duration of our stay. It felt too short and I didn’t want to leave that soon; I desired more time to connect with that incredible environment. But as my thoughts wallowed in negativity, I decided to limit my expression of them to my moleskine. So I wrote all of my feelings down and afterwards began to reread them to myself. Ungrateful, was the first word that entered my mind. What I compiled was a list of unjustified and thankless complaints, yet after considering them I understood the reality of the matter: I was gifted with the opportunity to view the Grand Canyon and I am incredibly lucky to have done so. Whether it was for five days or five minutes is completely irrelevant by reason of having the chance to experience it at all, an amazing part of this country that many others never will and for that basic truth I should feel especially appreciative.

After a full day of driving we finally arrived in Holbrook, Arizona, where our motel would be that evening. Given a few minutes to unload and relax before dinner, I laid across the bed and talked to Naomi as she was preparing herself for dinner. Her eyes were fixated on a mirror, applying makeup, trying on different outfit options, and retouching her hair. Observing her during our conversation, I started to think about my own actions. Like many women, I would freshen myself up in the same manner Naomi was - mascara to eyelash, blush to cheek, gloss to lip. Except, strangely, for the first time in a while I didn’t really care too much about what I looked like. Granted I upheld good hygiene and wanted to look presentable, but after ten days I seemingly abandoned the strong attachment I had for mirrors, which anyone who knows me would acknowledge as an entirely unpredictable occurrence. Throughout my young adulthood many of my friends and family would often point out that I couldn’t walk by a mirror without glancing at it and although I hate to admit it, they were right. It was somewhat of a priority of mine to monitor my appearance throughout the day. So how has a week on the road affected that? Well, we have been camping for the majority of our trip thus far and like toilets, showers, and concrete shelter, mirrors were almost completely absent from the setting. By virtue of the situation my priorities have altered from upkeeping a veneer of accentuated beauty to maintaining my cleanliness. In some locations like the ninety degree environment in the Valley of Fire, looking cute wasn’t even an attainable option nor, as I realize it now, was it really ever that important.

I have made some great friends on this trip and as obvious as it sounds maybe my appearance was never really a factor in a person’s ability to enjoy my company to begin with. It’s not that I was ever that superficial, but that notion is just a rarity in the industry I work in. In fashion, your appearance is more often than not valued more than your mind. That is as short sided as it sounds, but that ideal is not just limited to the fashion industry. American media in general tends to highlight the irresistibly good looking over the resourceful intellectuals and its constant presence greatly influences the ideology and behavior of females in this country. It took me living in nature without a mirror to finally acknowledge that and to truly understand that confidence really is the most valuable beauty product that you can possess.

7:22 pm - On the Road, Holbrook, Arizona to Quemado, New Mexico

The group divided itself based on two separate locations today. One half traveled to Albuquerque to run errands in metropolis and the other visited the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. Not far from our motel in Holbrook, the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert are national parks known for their incredibly rare fossilized trees and unique, beautifully colored mounds of easily erodible stone. Both are aspects of land that are aesthetically stunning and highly uncommon. Always interested in seeing new landscapes, I decided to go with the latter. After a hearty breakfast at the local Denny’s we proceeded to head in that direction. A few minutes in the van and we were there.

When you think of a forest you generally expect to see a tall mass of trees, but the Petrified Forest is almost the complete opposite in description. Found on little dirt hills, the wood that gives the park its name comes in the form of a short stump or a small chip, scattered throughout the land. Our group walked through the park, amazed by the stone’s age and singularity. Each was a variation of the same color theme, shaped like wood, but appearing as stone. We spent some time walking throughout the park admiring them when I bent down to get a closer look. Despite there being signs and notifications everywhere that this wood was not to be lifted from its environment, I had the strong desire to take a small sample for myself. Later on when we had departed towards New Mexico I spent some time considering my thoughts on stealing the petrified wood. Taking it would have been selfish, greedy and above all illegal, yet the thought never escaped me. With that analysis in mind I suddenly became disappointed in myself. The purpose of every place we’ve visited was to inspire and affect many people, not just singular Sarah and yet I was purely thinking of my own gain. Contemplating all of this I developed an after thought: I had really learned and have grown from this trip. In the past my selfishness and greed for personal acquisition would have never even crossed my mind.

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Photography Credit: Rosanna Bach

Rosanna Bach photographer, writer, and storyteller was born in Switzerland in 1990. She completed a BBA in Design Management at Parsons the New School for Design in 2012. After completing her degree, Rosanna moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina where she lived for five months working on a personal project, "Fear Builds Walls." As a result she is fluent in English, Spanish and German. In 2013 Rosanna graduated from the Documentary and Photojournalism program at the International Centre of Photography. She now lives and works in New York City.

Originally published on Promote & Preserve.