Tree Blogging (John Muir, and then something happened)

My contribution to @Platea’s participatory art Project VIII: Tree Blogging

(Source Material found at

Title: John Muir, and then something happened
(Installation + Text)
by: Maritza Ruiz Kim
materials: inkjet on vellum & canvas, wood veneer, gloss on vellum, silver thread
Muir Site photos taken from area local to his historical home, Martinez, CA; also Muir Woods, Mill Valley, CA

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Sunday, Jan 9: saw source material

Monday, Jan 10: decide to visit Muir Historical Home for source photographs. Find out it’s closed till Wed. Decide to photograph John Muir Med Ctr on Tues.

Tuesday, Jan 11: friend calls, needs ride to John Muir Med Ctr to fetch her car which had been left at ER, so she can drive to join her husband & daughter at a different hospital, where her daughter (who has leukemia) was transferred by ambulance. I take photos after I drop her off.

Wednesday, Jan 12: Decide to visit Muir Historical Home since it’s open now. Arrive there at 9am, find out it opens at 10am. Receive call from another friend about urgent medical things happening to her. Decide against waiting for historical home to open, have coffee with friend instead, before her hospital appointment. We discuss John Muir to distract ourselves. I learn even more about Muir, his eccentricities. How one time he slipped & nearly died, but as he slipped down the mountain, he laughed & laughed. We decide that would indeed be a good way to finish out life. We talk about how he loved his wife, how they loved each other. About how, when he was home, if he was gone from nature for too long, he’d stop functioning, stop writing, and she’d force him to return to nature. He’d leave for months at a time & then return. We leave the coffee shop; she goes to hospital while I go back to take more photos. No time to enter the historical home as I’d hoped. Decide I probably had pics from a previous visit that I could use. Then I visit area sites named after Muir instead. Random music plays in car from iPod. Lyrics like “I’m sorry so sorry, I’m sorry it’s like this, I’m sorry so sorry, I’m sorry we do this.” And I think about how much John Muir would’ve hated all this suburban sprawl development, these places bearing his name…. More lyrics “O mothers let’s go down, Let’s go down, don’t you want to go down, Come on mothers let’s go down, Down in the river to pray.” And I think about John Muir’s deeply religious roots and then his nature redemption. And more lyrics “Some glad morning when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away; To a home on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away.” And I’m thinking, I don’t want to think about this. But then “Like a bird from prison bars has flown, I’ll fly away” and okay, and then “Just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away; To a land where joy shall never end, I’ll fly away” and there’s some relief. I take more photos, know I’m running short on time. Remember about photos taken at a visit to Muir Woods, decide to see if I can use those. Finish taking pictures. Pick up son from preschool. Get phone call about how friend’s urgent medical appointment went, how it looks like bad news is imminent. We make plans for lunch. I get sitter for son. I drive to lunch with my friends, (and cry and stop). We have lunch. We laugh. I go home and put son down for nap. I make art. Here it is.

Thursday, Jan 13: (UPDATE) We find out my friend has breast cancer.

To see my current project in progress titled “#within” please click here:

4 thoughts on “Tree Blogging (John Muir, and then something happened)

  1. Thank-you for this. It is a really beautiful installation. And the pictures of the installation are their own works of art.

    There is an inventiveness to your work that is very Muir-esque. You know he invented a chair that you could tilt back in without flipping over? Your inventive combination of wood veneer with inkjet on canvass or vellum and thread are representative of a mind that works creatively through seeing connections.

    And then your narrative…how familiar is the “thwart” in the artist’s process! How life intrudes. How every path is winding and never exactly direct. I am so glad that (in your web presence, at least) that is part of the art. It is definitely a mountain worth laughing down…

    I love Muir and his “cathedral of pines.” I, too, am unable to function if I don’t get out to the woods. My partner knows this and, like Muir’s wife, often forces me to go. I don’t protest. :-)

    Thanks for tree-blogging. And thanks most for picking up the Muir branch and seeing where it led.

  2. Pingback: Protecting #within | In Progress-

  3. To Bungy- thank you for your responses here… I especially like hearing about your ventures into the woods and your partner’s insistence that you go- there was something about that connection between Muir & his wife that I wanted to capture more but couldn’t quite… about love that involves self-sacrifice… something like that. Thanks for making this @Platea project happen, it was perfect timing for me.

  4. Pingback: Protecting #within: Jan 18 |

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