Sue Schardt produces media that enables people to recognize themselves as part of a larger whole.
April 11, 2020
I woke early this morning, thinking about all the images and sounds frozen into bits on hard drives, sheets of paper, cast iron or cement, white squares on a screen, slides, columns and rows, enclosing all that pours out in the making of one life and of many. In a moment, a day, over a lifetime, from the center of infinite space, where there is nothing forever. I thought about all that goes into the making of these expressions of life in forms that will all dissolves away.
I came down to sit in my studio and watched the light come up over the trees in the park, watching the barred owl live cam from the Cornell Ornithology Lab. She sits on three fully incubated eggs. Anticipation is at a high pitch for me and the hundreds of others watching. Turn up the volume.
I’m producing now every week on WMBR. The MIT campus shut down a few weeks ago, and the tech team figured out how to get our pre-recorded shows back on the air and streaming. The vitality of the people gathered around the station – producing and listening – is amazing. I offered my land line to listeners to call in and, while I sat at home listening, I talked to listeners, bunker to bunker. Paul said he used to listen to WMBR every weekday, 9 to 5 until he changed jobs. I remembered a crew of organ builders working up in Rockport, MA who used to call me. They, too, were avid listeners. I wonder how they are, and I picture their workshop gone still, all the tools and organ parts spread around, waiting for return.
The air is a moving medium, so magical, and one place of connection right now that’s clear and direct. It transcends time and space.
The phone has always been one of my favorite ways to connect, especially with those skilled in the give and take of good listening… who aren’t uncomfortable with long, thinking pauses. My excellent Urban Ears/buds are especially important now, and the main channel of contact with people I love, except for Fanny. At the start of all of this a month or so
ago, she emailed me as she was taking off to an island refuge. “Maybe you can make a voice recording online and send it to me,” she wrote. “Stream it straight from your soul.” I send them to her, and best I can from my soul along with images of the sidewalk mandalas that appear sometimes when I’m walking.
No swimming now – I’m waiting for a wet suit to arrive. It’s been shipped from Spain. It’s back to my bicycle, then, and most every morning I follow a path all along the Neponset tidal river trail near our house. Extreme quiet and beauty that I was unaware of until this new “now.” Five or so miles or so out — a Quaker service then into a Thich Nhat Hanh dharma talk about geese flows into my ear; I take a side path out and enter a far-away neighborhood. Ride the mostly deserted streets with abandon and not caring about direction, an occasional woman out sweeping the sidewalk, a delivery truck, ambulances…moving through a ghost town, with space enough to relax, observe, contemplate. Yesterday, I meandered up to Franklin Park. The zoo is there, and “the first public golf course in America.” I rode up and down the hilled greens and fairways…they were pretty muddy, and it was rough going at times…cutting over 5 or maybe 7 acres that eventually brought me to a road. I followed it along and onto some more back streets. Smell of cooking. Bacon, something harder to name…Indian spices? Toast….
I’m excited to be taking the Fleisher project into this new reality; still in formulation, and ED Liz Grimaldi has designated me as “captain of return.” Nothing motivates me like a mandate (and a good title!). I will work with people who make up the Fleisher community and surrounding neighborhood to draw out stories and sharing. Fleisher was conceived as a sanctuary…a “playground for the soul.” Are these aspirations manifest now, in this forever changed world? My heart is in this moment, and also in the celebration of our return.
Support for Margin Media is provided by the Waterman II Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation. The 2020 producer-in-residency is a sponsored project of the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial, Inc. made possible by a grant from the Wyncote Foundation.