Dorrie Casey. Submitted photo

A birchbark creation by Dorrie Casey. Submitted photo

BETHEL — Artwork created with birch bark will be featured in an exhibit/sale at the Museums of the Bethel Historical Society beginning Sept. 27.

All proceeds from the sale will benefit the MBHS and the Mahoosuc Land Trust.

The pieces are the work of Mexico, Maine native Dorrie Casey, who formerly worked as a writer, singer and actor.

She describes how she came up with the idea of using the bark from the white trees: “Here in Maine, we go ‘barking,’ collecting birch bark for kindling. Birch bark is a miraculous material that contains so much oil, it will burn even if soaking wet.  One day, in the basement where we’d stored piles of the bark, I started looking at it more closely and arranging small pieces of it together.  Then I began playing around with larger pieces, which led to my perusing the woods with a utility knife looking for downed trees to peel.  Before long, friends and neighbors were giving me special pieces of bark, and alerting me to treasure troves of the stuff they stumbled upon.

“In birch bark, I see landscapes, people, creatures, stories.  While working with bark, I am not thinking, just reacting physically to whatever rises up inside me, letting my hands go to work, without judgement or interference.  Sometimes the bark is enough.  Other times, I mix it up with other natural materials, such as feathers, fleece, fur, mica, as well as bits and pieces of metal.

“Of all the many materials I use, almost all is re-purposed, including the frames.  Five of the pieces in this show have frames made from barn boards I found on route 232, which their owner not only gave to me, but who kindly sawed them in half right there in the moment, so I could get them home in my little truck.”

Through working with visual art, Casey said, “I have fallen into a deep sense of belonging, of belonging to myself. This is what we all long for, the sense of ‘this is what I am meant for.’ If I have a ‘mission’ then, it is to send these works out into the world, spreading the fun and freedom and belonging that I have found.”

Casey splits her between Hanover and Chapel Hill, N.C.   She contributes all proceeds from the sale of her work to art and environmental programs.

The MBHS sale, entitled “Works in Birch Bark’ will run from the 27th through Oct. 18.

An opening reception is scheduled for the 27th from 4:30 to 7 p.m. The gallery will then be open on Tuesdays through Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.

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