I am pleased to announce that my painting “Return to Goblin Valley” has been accepted for exhibition in Raices Taller 222 Art Gallery & Workshop’s “Historias e Identidades (Histories and Identities)” show. The exhibition will open with a reception on Saturday, August 3, 2019, from 6 - 9 p.m and runs through September 7, 2019. Raices Taller is located at 218 E. 6th Street in Tucson, Arizona. Unfortunately, I will be on a trip to visit family in Oregon during the opening, but I encourage anyone who is able to attend. Their receptions are always a wonderful time full of lively fun!
And now, I share a story about this painting and why a landscape scene from Utah’s Goblin Valley relates to my own personal history and identity.
“The Artist is no other than he who unlearns what he has learned, in order to know himself.”
–E. E. Cummings
Return to Goblin Valley
by Teressa L. Jackson
We pull up to the rim and peer down at the city of bulbous creatures that awaits us. Our imaginations take off like the lawnmower our father had once used to manicure our Midwestern yard. On the dividing line between child and woman, my sister Dee and I both fall back into old familiar territory for a sweet afternoon.
There are passageways and rooms, solitary figures and looming families. “This is my house!” I shout, but I don’t mind if Dee joins me in it. We had spent nearly our entire lives in a standard white post-war Cape Cod house, but in the couple of years leading up to this day, our father’s thin, towering 6’7” frame was no longer a part of that home.
When Dad left southern Indiana in pursuit of that elusive perfect job, Dee and I remained behind, learning to navigate airports a couple times a year. In our tween years, we were young enough for these trips to be frightening and old enough to find them exhilarating. In the late 1980’s, there were no mobile phones and no internet. We were disconnected, roaming free, changing planes through O’Hare’s hurried urban masses and disembarking in his new home, the Rocky Mountain wonderland of Salt Lake City.
The first few years we made this repeated cross-country journey, we enjoyed adventures that must have seemed exotic to our friends back home. We rode snowmobiles in the Rocky Mountains, learned to ski in the powder, breathed in the Grand Canyon, and smelled the sulfur of bubbling cauldrons and steaming geysers at Yellowstone.
Soon we entered the world of high school spectacle and our gravities shifted. We traded shared vistas and road trips for landline telephone custody battles. A year apart in school, Dee’s friends were what I considered “nerdy-popular.” I hung with the skateboarders, feeling a different exhilaration at punk rock shows and along Louisville’s Bardstown Road corridor.
That day at Goblin Valley seemed distant and almost forgotten most times over the decades that followed, but occasionally still surfaced as one of my fondest memories. As age forty loomed, my childhood years spent among desert, mountains, and sweeping views beckoned to me. I needed to return to these places – to rekindle my creativity, reawaken my sense of adventure, and reconnect with my original self.
I’ve spent the last three years becoming reacquainted with that young woman who visited Goblin Valley for the first time. I’ve revisited that wonderland and met new ones across the Southwest and beyond. My father and I haven’t spoken in nearly ten years, and it’s unlikely that we will ever do so again. However, I remain grateful for the foundation he laid through those early adventures and the way those places permanently shaped me.
I am, once again, the girl I left behind in that valley.