The sand is his canvas | Community


Not every artist will create great art just to see it disappear, but Odessa Ford is not your typical artist.

Ford is a landscape artist who creates elaborate sand art designs on the beaches of central Oregon using only rakes and sand as her canvas. Sometimes lasting a few minutes, the waves end up reappropriating his work. leaving her with only photographs and memories of the experience.

She’s done about 35 over the past few years and feels like it’s something she was born to do, although that passion came a little later in her life.

Ford earned a BFA in painting and holds a master’s degree in educational technology from Boise State University. She had lost touch with her artistic side until her first husband died in 2016. Part of her healing process was to start painting again, and Ford said she had remade herself. “I shaved my head and just decided I had to do what I had to do for myself. It started me on my own personal journey as an artist.

Originally from Idaho, Ford attended a workshop with Andres Amadour, a well-known sand artist from California. Shortly after class, she drove from her home in Idaho to Pacific City, where she did her first sandscape. It was May 2018, and she then decided to permanently move to Oregon.

“When I moved here, there was a purpose to it,” Ford said. “I always knew that I was destined for bigger and bigger things. I had this vision of myself standing on that cliff with people around me and knowing that somehow I had something they all needed. I had this gift that came to me so naturally.

For Ford, it is the fact of making these ephemeral works of art that drives his passion. “A lot of artists work for the perfect end product, but for me, art is experience, and that’s how I can share that experience.”

She said creating beautiful sand drawings is personal and meditative. “It’s the memory of the action and my presence there. While I do that, I block everything else. I can watch people enjoy it. I have fun. It’s public art, temporary, meant to engage people.

His latest landscape, an image from the cover of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” album, was shot March 26 on the beach at Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area. It was dedicated to a local couple she married in October who happen to be huge Pink Floyd fans. The weather was not conducive to sand art on their wedding day, so Ford waited until the time, weather, and tides were right.

She does a lot of research ahead of time, like knowing when the tides are low and what the state of the sand is on certain beaches. For the Pink Floyd image, she had a plan but still didn’t know how she would execute it. “When you’re in the sand, it’s hard to know where you are.” She doesn’t square her plans or measure anything, but says she has to intuitively count her steps to get the proportions right.

Part of his Saturday experiment was to incorporate the use of vegan food coloring to replicate the album’s color rainbow. “I’m a curious artist and I want to try new things. That means I’m going to do it my way. It’s scary to do something new, but I came here to be an artist. It’s my life now, and I’ve built my whole life around this art form.

Because creating art is so physical, Ford doesn’t create them as often as before. She now lives in Eugene with her new husband, Ken, and traveling to Lincoln County to produce an elaborate maze will take an entire day. “I run there like crazy,” she said. “But it’s super fleeting and meditative, and it centers me.”

After making her final sand picture, Ford was stopped by several people who asked to have their picture taken with her. As someone who once thought of herself as shy, she’s become something of a local celebrity and has a global following online, which she says has been a humbling experience. “The first times I came here were just for me, but now I’ve developed quite a few people. I’m surprised when people know me. It’s strange.”

In addition to making sandscapes, Ford is a muralist, painter, arts educator, public arts advocate, spoken word poet, and spiritual practitioner.

Ford’s website is artistodessaford.com, which has links to all of his studios, public workshops, upcoming events, and spiritual practices, as well as contact information. She will work to order but is selective and must feel connected to a project to complete it.

“My goals are to keep expanding the landscapes. It’s also about building relationships with the communities I work with. I just want to create stuff, do tarot readings, and be myself. sand art is by far my passion,” she said.

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