The Freedom to Play
Jake Thomashow grew up in the Monadnock Region, in a home deep in the Dublin woods. Growing up, he remembers, there weren’t many rules about going outside. Kids had the freedom to wander, and there was an ease and permeability between outside and inside.
Jake remembers his time at the Harris Center’s Wol’s Nest summer camp, back in 1990, with great fondness.
“Wol’s Nest was really influential in building my confidence about exploring the out-of-doors – just cruising around in the woods with time to play. I remember feeling free to ‘do my own thing’ even though there was always staff around. From my ‘kid’ perspective, they seemed to be ‘doing their own thing’ as well. So, we all just followed their lead. We had the freedom to play and just be out in the woods, which led to creating forts, sculptural pieces, and finding artifacts.
I also remember some of the friendships that I started at Wol’s Nest. There was one person who I got to know even better once we hit high school. We would talk about the time when we were friends at Wol’s Nest. It was a safe and inspiring place that connected us. The memories became a little sanctuary for us to go back to, talking about the freedom that we had to explore and play.”
“That Magical Feeling”
“The building on the property was really special. It had a magic quality to it. I remember lots of nooks and crannies, displays, fountains, staircases, and hidden rooms. That magical feeling reopens whenever I’m exploring a new place, especially when I’m out trying to find the perfect place to put up a piece of artwork. Part of the power of the Wol’s Nest experience was the place – the building, the gardens, the feel of being in a wild yet cultivated setting. It had a deeply mysterious and compelling quality to it that captured my imagination.
I remember Susie [Spikol], who introduced me to different aspects of New Hampshire that I may not have noticed on my own. Learning about the natural environment, the history, the impacts of change over time, were all a part of that experience, even at such a young age. I learned different ways of seeing nature – of observing it, of enjoying it. All of those things have influenced my current work as an artist.”
Jake is now a street mural artist living in Tasmania, Australia. Much of his work is designed to unveil changes in the landscape — to spark another way of seeing, perceiving, and understanding the nature of place.
Jake works in schools, as well, coaching kids to express themselves through art on big surfaces outside. The purpose and intention of his artwork is to build an awareness and appreciation of biodiversity, to represent threats to the planet, and to provide insight about the importance of ‘place — seeds that were planted, long ago, at Wol’s Nest….
A panoramic photo of Jake Thomashow in front of one of his murals.
For more information on the Harris Center’s 50th anniversary celebrations, please contact Lisa Murray at (603) 525-3394 or by email.