Jeremy Collins is something of a dirtbag Renaissance man. He’s put up bold first ascents in his home crag, northern Arkansas’ Sam’s Throne. He wrote and illustrated the award-winning book Drawn, an ode to five years of exploration in locations leading all four cardinal directions from his home—to Yosemite, China, Canada, and Venezuela. And he started the clothing brand Meridian Line, which produces tees, journals, and prints emblazoned with his designs. When the opportunity arose earlier this month to create an art installation in the shadow of Sedona’s Cathedral Rock—and later climb the classic desert tower—he jumped.
Just a week removed from a stint working on a documentary in the Gorkha District of Nepal, Collins hopped a flight from his home in Kansas City, Missouri, to Sedona, Arizona. He didn’t have a plan when the plane touched down in the red sandstone of Arizona, relying instead on 20 years of experience climbing, camping, and exploring in the desert. Eight hours and about as many cans of spray paint later, he walked away from his “wall of windows,” a mixed-media reflection of the area’s colors and character, and stepped into a climbing harness. “I spent a day creating art from afar and then a day engaging with the landscapes,” he said. “Ultimately, it all came together in one piece and one voice.”
Micah Harvey captured the project’s progress.
Photo: Liberated Wines, a new winery based in California, footed the bill for the project but let Collins decide where to stage the installation. “Sedona was the first place that popped into mind,” he says, adding that he had never climbed or drawn on location in the area. “The desert is very special to me as a climber and an artist.”