We would like to inform you, dear readers, that we have found the Cloud Observatory.

The Cloud Observatory is a modest wooden structure with a back wall set at a tilt. There is no roof. You enter the structure, lean back, and look up.

The Cloud Observatory, conceived and constructed by artist Meredith Brickell, can be found at outside the gallery at Penland School of Crafts in Penland, North Carolina. As we stepped into the structure one sunny day and leaned against the wall, we took a deep breath. We leaned, feeling the sun-warmed wall support our legs, back, neck. We let our skull be held at a slant. We looked above without any strain and saw stratocumulus clouds sailing, maybe thinning a little across the ceiling. We watched them sail. Reader, we have to admit: we forgot about our job, our to-do list, our phone and its pings and buzzes. We felt the wind against our skin.

After, we turned to the left, where many cloud watchers before us had affixed notes about what they had seen:

What a relief to find that most cloud experts are children. If a child sees a goose and a fish, they will say it. If they see something that doesn’t have a word, they will draw the something they see.

Given a place to see, a slant to lean against and a frame for the sky, we can feel small with each other.


More about artist Meredith Brickell

More about the Cloud Observatory at the Penland Gallery