Sara Long’s ‘Dune Woman’ Contemplates the Body’s Tender Terrain
Born and raised among ancient redwood trees, Sara Long creates warm, intimate works that lay bare her relationship with the Californian landscape.
Long’s sun-dappled series Dune Woman documents the artist’s return home to explore the microclimates of northern California. The daughter of farmers, Long grew up sheltered, both figuratively and literally, by the towering redwood trees that take root along California’s humid coast. “[I] learned to commune with nature, making the birds, ferns, ancient trees, light, and fog [my] friends,” she notes.
Flush with wind-blown sands and native plants, Dune Woman dives into the clime of Clam Beach, California, located only a few miles from where Long grew up. “In Dune Woman, we sit down in the hot, baked sand, shaded by tall swaying beach grass, and rest with her for a while,” Long writes in her artist statement. Using filmed images of herself as reference material, Long intimates herself with the environment, the curves of her body rising and falling like piles of sand.
Cradled by the Earth and sheltered by its shade, Long’s body melts into the landscape, comfortable in its cohabitation with nature. “Being back [home], decades later, the eyes are wiser and more attuned to the sensitive shifts within this tender terrain,” she admits. Populated with imperceptible details—a pale daytime moon, plant-generated shadows cast over sand—Long’s work is a testament to small observations and bodily autonomy.
Capturing the artist’s homecoming decades after her departure, Dune Woman finds Long at peace, painting the bonds that sustained her as a child.
“Being back [home], decades later, the eyes are wiser and more attuned to the sensitive shifts within this tender terrain.” — Sara Long
All photos published with permission of the artist.
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