There is a long lineage of artists and writers who have paid homage to stones and rocks, making them the centerpiece of work in all manner of media. Knowing their rich expression has expanded my pleasure in the rocks I’ve collected over years… attracted first by their visual beauty and the memory they would spark of the place I discovered them.  Once home, I found myself pulling them into practical use to discover that as I use them,  I find rock poetry, rock art…

Weighing down a stack of papers…

Sally Schneider

…I remember John Cage in Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists:

[Cage:]  My most recent interest is in stones.

[Q:] Stones?

[Cage:] Yes, I collect them for my garden from all over the world. Some of them are quite big. I ride along the road and I stop and I look at stones. I have a very large stone waiting for me now in a van in North Carolina.

There are so many faces to this particular rock that it’s like an exhibition of several works of art.

Cage made several series of etchings, paintings and drawings by using stones he collected, in league with chance, an ongoing theme in this visual work.


Using a rock to weight down pot lids and spatchcocked chickens

Sally Schneider


…an Emily Dickinson poem comes to mind…

How happy is the little Stone
That rambles in the Road alone,
And doesn’t care about Careers
And Exigencies never fears—
Whose Coat of elemental Brown
A passing Universe put on,
And independent as the Sun
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute Decree
In casual simplicity—

Stacking two big rocks to hold a roll of toilet paper…
Sally Schneider


…I remember artist Andy Goldsworthy, who has a whole book devoted to his gorgeous stone works..

Andy Goldsworthy

Smashing garlic for the Greek garlic sauce skordalia, I hear …
Sally Schneider
…Gary Snyder’s famous poem Riprap*
Lay down these words
Before your mind like rocks.
             placed solid, by hands
In choice of place, set
Before the body of the mind
             in space and time:
Solidity of bark, leaf, or wall
             riprap of things:
Cobble of milky way,
             straying planets,
These poems, people,
             lost ponies with
Dragging saddles—
             and rocky sure-foot trails.
The worlds like an endless
Game of Go.
             ants and pebbles
In the thin loam, each rock a word
             a creek-washed stone
Granite: ingrained
             with torment of fire and weight
Crystal and sediment linked hot
             all change, in thoughts,
As well as things.
Ellen Silverman


*from Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems


Related posts:

Tree Trunks And Rocks As Display Cases + Stools

Rocks As Doorstop (Sculpture)

Makeshift Mortars And Pestles Make Sublime Walnut Pesto (And Other Delicious Things)

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