Inspired by Reading: “Into the Wild”

 Welcome 2015! I am glad to be back to books, and creating… and the “Inspired by Reading” book group community created by Andrew Thornton. I like these monthly challenges; a time to experiement, to challenge oneself, to try a new technique or play a bit. And while we may be far apart geographiclaly, its nice to “get together” virtually.

The book group selection for this month was “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. 

From Amazon: In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter.  How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Jon Krakauer constructs a clarifying prism through which he reassembles the disquieting facts of McCandless’s short life.  Admitting an interst that borders on obsession, he searches for the clues to the dries and desires that propelled McCandless.  Digging deeply, he takes an inherently compelling mystery and unravels the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

When McCandless’s innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversible and fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and is dismissed for his naiveté, pretensions, and hubris.  He is said  to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edge. Krakauer brings McCandless’s uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows, and the peril, adversity , and renunciation sought by this enigmatic young man are illuminated with a rare understanding–and not an ounce of sentimentality. Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, Into the Wild is a tour de force. The power and luminosity of Jon Krakauer’s stoytelling blaze through every page.


I was familiar with this tragic tale, having seen the majority of the 2007 movie retelling. I did think this was a rather ominous depressing selection for the dead of winter, but I dove in… Here is my mixed media pendant “Looking within”: 

Look within

 My piece starts with an open Nunn Design bezel. I cut copper and textured sections to be a stylized forest/wilderness. There is a sheet of mica directly behind the copper. The back piece is fabricated of polymer and contains a mirror. The mirror reflects the tree silhouettes, creating more forest volume – but also reflects a sliver of the viewer back to the self. 

forest for the trees

backing detail

I was most struck by the fact that McCanndless seems to have found what he was looking for – and attempted to hike out. He was met with a river swollen with flood,and had to return to his bus/base camp. It was in that interim he ate/poisoned/sickened and died. He had found what he was looking for, he had turned to the wilderness in a way to turn within… 

This piece, complete with mirror, is inspired by that looking within. 

From the author: ” Unlike Muir and Thoreau, McCandless went into the wilderness not primarily to ponder nature and the world at large but, rather, to explore the inner country of his own soul.” ( pg 183)

I havent thought about the necklace portion of this piece yet… time wasnt in my favor. Perhaps woody, perhaps icy… 

Please click over to Andrew’s blog – the links and details of the in person meet up will be posted there! 

Come back next month for “Geek Love” by K. Dunn. 

7 thoughts on “Inspired by Reading: “Into the Wild”

  1. Sarajo Wentling says:

    Your pendant is just amazing, Jenny! I appreciate your inspiration and the multiple layers going on there. I hope you’ll share the finished necklace when you get around to that part…it’s going to rock!


  2. Ann Schroeder says:

    I love how you’ve made this pendant. It’s perfect for the book and really beautiful. It seems to focus on what Chris wanted to find (and like you said perhaps did find) rather than some of the sadder aspects.


  3. Andrew Thornton says:

    The pendant that you created is really exciting! I love how you’ve packed so much into this piece. It’s symbolic and lovely and just perfect! Great job! As far as the story, I had a different take. I have known a lot of people over the years who have suffered from addiction. Addicted to bad relationships, addicted to drugs, addicted to leaving everything behind. While I wanted to like Chris’s search for himself in the woods, at what cost does this self-affirmation come? To me, you can pretty up bad behavior with Thoreau quotes or painting oneself as a tragic hero, but at the end of the day, Chris was searching for a fix and didn’t really care about anyone else or how he was going to get it, just that he was going to get it. In any event, I really enjoyed your piece and I appreciate you joining back in the fun! Thanks again for participating!


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