The Threads Project at Age 4

Three summers ago I dove into an idea that had been growing inside me for so long. It started with reflections on how we are all tied together. How every person I have met has left a mark on my life even if we don't share space and time anymore. From those childhood friends, the random kindred spirit you connected with in line at the grocery store, our family, the relationships that have come and gone - they all leave an everlasting thread woven into the tapestry of our being.

So it was with this imagery and a desire to travel and reconnect with the natural landscape of our diverse country that the Threads project began. The first year without much of a plan at all - no real timeline, direction or idea, but using the movement across the land to inspire my work in paintings and thoughts in my journals. I also saw how we have more in common than may outwardly appear if we allow ourselves to go to that deeper place with others.

Year one: Alaska, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, California. I came home with all these drawings of the animals I encountered and began mailing out painted copies with letters to all those that stood out as "Threads" in my life at that time and reached out to have people help me find someone in every single state to connect with through these letters and simple illustrations.

Year Two: hatched a plan, carved out structure to the idea - collected addresses and made a plan to connect with some very dear people in my life as part of my travels. I have to say now, that choosing to make my very first stop after a long drive from New Orleans to be dinner with my Grandmother at her home in North Carolina - the place where I spent my birthdays and all our family holidays is now even more meaningful to me since she has left us.

To keep it brief for the time being... the trip continued over 11,000 miles over ten weeks. From Montreal all the way to Vancouver, through Utah and New Mexico and South Dakota and Montana, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Vermont, Massachusetts, NYC, DC, Baltimore... and incredible life changing trip. 

Year Three: Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah - I didnt cover as much land but I dove into those spaces in greater depth - slowed down by a sprained ankle it was almost a blessing in disguise. Creating more meaningul and lasting relationships, being able to visit with those I had met in the past and continue beuilding on the themes of the Threads project.

Katharine Ryalls