Rock People

The Noguchi Museum on a cold winter day in Long Island City is a rock garden oasis among long warehouses, and desolate parks. In mid-January, the temperature had not breached freezing in days it seemed: 2017 to 2018 is the first real winter in years. We should be happy, to feel again the dips and rises of Northeastern weather. But no matter how you slice it, winter is just hard. So the museum was the only place to go to take a warm outing here in Queens. But it turns out the stones were able to speak more profoundly about our time here than anything else recently has.

I keep a collection of rocks from my hometown on my window ledge to remind me that streams and forests still exist. How many people like me have also collected stones, to keep memories by, to mark their home?

And there we saw the Noguchi and the Gonzalo Fonseca rocks. Rocks in whose crevices are stories of civilizations that lived in and worked with stone, hewn like the cliffs of Mesa Verde or the temple of Abu Simbel. There were piles of rocks that stood in a forest where I grew up on which we would often perch, hardly thinking to ourselves that perhaps the stone had come from another stone. And that stone to another. Beneath everything is a bed of rock. These piles were old walls that divided property, the Berlin Wall, the Wailing Wall, The Great Wall (of whatever country you decide).

In this Anthropocene time, our homes will mark our identity. We are shifty, waterlike beings. The solidity of our identity is the expression of our nature through the tools that morph the most solid of materials.

Language is ethereal, paper ages, culture gets lost, entire stories get folded over into time. Words become unfathomable. Sometimes expression is too deep for the simplicity of words and buildings must be built, monuments erected. Stone is the deepest baritone of declaration.  

When everything in life changes what within us is stone? There are long rows of tombstones outside of the Minneapolis airport for Veterans. These seem to represent that stillness. It is our culture that lives on, weaving stories for the future. Let’s continue with stone being a statement of our belonging rather than a barrier from our differences.