When my father, Gerry Kent, was climbing on the first guided ascent of the north face of Mount Temple with Barry Blanchard, he experienced the fear and awe of the mountains, which he shared in a article, “A Guided Fantasy,” that appeared in the 1993 Canadian Alpine Journal. One particular paragraph stood out to me: “As I neared Barry’s belay point, he could observe the look of terror in my eyes. To encourage me, he said: ‘You look like an alpinist.’ ‘But I don’t feel like an alpinist.’ ‘Doesn’t matter; every alpinist knows these feelings of dread and impending doom.’”

I have been very fortunate to have been able to explore the fear of the alpinist. I have climbed on some difficult and exposed routes (though none as difficult as the North face of Mount Temple), and I have experienced the dread and impending doom of the moment, the revelation of courage that it necessitates and the sheer awe of continuance and the joy it habits.

When I express my art, I feel something similar: the fear of creation, the courage of revelation, the joy of its continuance. They are as natural to art as they are to nature: one cannot be expressed without the other; one cannot be experienced without the other. Art’s form finds its shape in the artist’s exploration and vision of nature. To experience nature, the artist revels in its artistic visions: the rain slowly dripping from a leaf; the bee subtly collecting pollen; the sunrise at the tip of a mountain top. If artistic sensibilities are lost, respect for nature will be lost, merely seen as a utility. If nature is ignored within and among humanity, refused to be experienced fully, art will become frivolous and obscene.

Beauty brings art into a symbiotic relationship to nature. When I climb a mountain, the beauty I experience comes from the awe of its grandness, its imperturbability, while also experiencing the minuteness of its closeness—each step unifying within its terrifying silence. When I create my art, the beauty comes from the awe of its expression, the shape of its grand image which is envisioned into the minute moment so that it can be grasped by the visionary, unifying their mystery with it. Nature suffuses that moment. Art suffuses the other moment. The beauty is in its humble unifying nature, its humble unifying art.