“Suck Creek Road” What a fabulous name for a road. Surely Southern. Most likely a turn off, one rural road from another. A hundred shades of green all along the sides—trees, vines, grasses, weeds. A place where you can actually smell deep summer.
Chattanooga has a Suck Creek Road. It runs beside the Tennessee River west of town, toward the Gorge. People live along the road, it’s rural but not isolated. Gary, a super nice guy, has a business just off it renting kayaks and paddle boards. You put in at his shop, float/paddle downriver with the flow, then sometimes, if you’ve gone a long way, he can come pick you up in his boat. Or you can head upstream, toward Chattanooga, then float back down to put in. Whatever your day is, whatever your life is, you go quiet on the river. That’s the point.
Four of us used to go the river. Feeling the urge we’d text each other “River?” No questions asked, we knew what that meant. Time to go.
In late summer 2018, after I’d moved back to NC, three were on the river and spotted a vine floating nearby. They retrieved it, put it on one of their boards to carry back to put in, and took it home. I immediately fell in love with it when they gave it to me a few months later. We’d all seen the same thing in the vine—intricacy and fragility AND an inherent tenacious strength. Strong enough to survive the currents on the river.
Back in the studio, I watched the vine for a while as it hung on the working wall. No mistaking its source. The reed wove itself into the vine very slowly and gingerly, one thin strand at a time. Not too much, just enough to create a few resting spots. The work will be with me for a while, for two upcoming exhibitions, then I think it needs to go back to Chattanooga. Maybe back to the river off Suck Creek Road.