`Shards and circles'; author Dancer searches for roots with nature

Daniel Dancer has been on a journey for more than a decade. It's taken him from the prairies of Kansas to the Arctic Circle and home, finally, to Rowena Wilds east of Mosier.

The result is his new book, "Shards & Circles: Artistic Adventures in Spirit and Ecology."

Artist, photographer and writer Dancer will sign his book and present a slide program called "Declaring Sacred Ground: A Guided Slide Experience for Our Apocalyptic Times" at 3 p.m. on March 10 at the CAST Performing Arts Center, 4th and Cascade in Hood River. The presentation is free.

"Shards & Circles" is a series of essays about Dancer's travels as he strives to reconnect our modern age back to its roots with nature. In a series of globetrotting adventures, he finds himself in the midst of some of the world's endangered ecosystems. In these places, he searches for answers and hope for the future. In doing so, he also creates artwork in nature out of both modern and ancient "shards and circles."

In his book Dancer writes, "From remote, wild shorelines to clearcut forests, the shards of industrial culture abound in tangled lengths of wire, tattered fabrics, oil drums, tires, plastic utensils, broken glass, pop tops, rusted engine parts, and the like. But the organic shards of nature still predominate . . . and I derive considerable hope from this. Stones and feathers, seeds and shells, bits of wood and bone, ash and silica, the scat of animals and the leaves of trees: of this we are born and in this we dwell."

And with much of this Dancer creates his "environmental art."

"The book evolved out of growing up in California and experiencing what was happening in the natural world," Dancer said. "We've been living for the last 8,000 years in a patriarchal assault on nature, and it's not sustainable. We need to end this paradigm and begin something new."

Dancer has been a life-long photographer and artist. In the late 1980s he published a coffee table book of photographs titled "The Four Seasons of Kansas."

"The problem with photography is that all images are these little cropped pieces of reality," he said. "A beautiful nature image is not the whole truth." Through doing "environmental art," Dancer has sought to create a larger -- more truthful -- picture.

"In trying to tell the truth, it brought me to this art form," he said. "I began to see how each landscape has its own story to tell."

Dancer will discuss environmental art and show slides of the work his book's essays describe at the presentation. His books will be available for purchase.

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