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  • More Liquid Than Solid
  • Shoshanna White (bio)

With the invitation to walk a circular path nearby a body of water with the intention of compassion, I immediately thought of Mackworth Island, a small wooded island just outside Portland, Maine located where the Presumpscot River meets Casco Bay. The Presumpscot begins at Sebago Lake, the water source for Portland’s drinking water, and ends at Casco Bay, southern Maine’s gateway to the Atlantic. The island is nested between the two and is a place I go to often—a quick escape from town, a wooded trail, surrounded by water. My first experience of the island was in 1995; I walked the path and at certain point was aware of a tremor or pulse coming from the ground. Getting closer, the mysterious thumping was joined by an unfamiliar sound, like drumming upon the earth. Making my way through the woods and to a glade, the path opened up to reveal an elementary school soccer game: no cheering, no talking, just the patter of feet. Mackworth Island has long been home to the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf and the gentle beat transmitted by earth signaled the energy of the game. While the match was a beautiful sight to come upon, the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf has a dark history of abuse. In a time when so many abuses are surfacing: physical, emotional, environmental, I wanted to walk this island, for the planet and for anyone who has seen abuse physical or otherwise.

For this walk of compassion, I carry a small piece of glacier ice and tuck it in my jacket, close to my heart. The ice was collected from Barry Glacier, a receding glacier in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Working with melting glacier ice has been a way for me to get closer to what’s happening on our planet, to better understand what’s at stake and to record and study hidden information held within its layers. This small piece of well-traveled ice, holding some of our collective planetary history, melts completely during my short walk around the island.

Stopping along the path, I collect water from the shore. Mixing it with the newly melted glacier water, I imagine the brackish state of glaciers melting into the sea, rain falling into Sebago Lake, the Presumpscot River emptying into the Atlantic [End Page 24] Ocean, waters rearranging themselves into cloud formations and the cycle repeating. I imagine those kids, grown now and their painful and difficult paths. I think about how we are all connected and that we are all water and about Vanessa Moeller’s poem The Consciousness of Water: “We are more tears than bone . . . more liquid than solid . . .” I dream about attuning to one another, finding our rhythm in compassion.

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Walking Mackworth Island Loop Trail.

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Small piece of glacier ice collected before walk.

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Adding melted glacier water to seawater.

All photos: Photogram Prints: © Shoshannah White / Documentation Photography: © Tonee Harbert

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Shoshanna White

SHOSHANNA WHITE is an interdisciplinary artist currently based in New Mexico and Maine. Her practice includes photography, painting, and sculpture and public art installation, often informed by concerns of the environment. She has completed residencies in the United States, Canadian Maritimes and Norway.



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