Thursday, April 24, 2014

Commission Update

Panel detail

Nancy working on one of the panels

Nancy and Ellen are taking advantage of the glorious weather here in Pickens to get some work done on their large commission. The garage studio door is flung open and they have spent the last two days cutting, conspiring, and creating (more than a few Latin names of plants and animals have been bandied about).

The collaboration between them has given rise to another important Rensing phenomenon, which is the pleasure of having people like Nancy, friends of the center, come for a visit so that the artists in residence like myself can spend time with them over a glass of wine or a bowl of grits.

Last night, Nancy taught us all a new word: sobremesa, which translates in Spanish to "around a table." It is what happens after a meal is finished, when plates are smeared clean and bellies are full, and everyone stays to talk. It's a good word to describe what happens here at Rensing when artists get together after the day's work is done and the only things left are the stars and the conversation.

-Jennifer Rabin

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Importance of Artist Residencies

conceptual art Rensing Center Jennifer Rabin

The creative life is hard. It involves an overwhelming amount of rejection and so requires an abundance of faith, focus, trust, and belief in self. As artists, when we submit our work--to publications, juried shows, galleries, when we apply for grants or public art projects--it could take 50 rejections before we get an acceptance. It can be disheartening to put so much of ourselves into our work only to have it rejected or, worse, ignored entirely. We press on, though, despite the challenges, because making art provides us with a meaningful life.

The reason that literary, visual, and performing artists take weeks, even months, out of their lives to come to places like The Rensing Center is because an artist residency helps to replenish our stores of faith, focus, trust, and belief in self. When we are here, we are seen. In a career filled with NOs, an artist residency is one long sustained YES. It is a pat on the back, a Good Job, a Keep Doing What You're Doing.

What makes The Rensing Center stand out, is that it places an emphasis on the artist as a whole person. We are encouraged not only to make work and to relax, but also to live lightly on the land, to learn about the surrounding culture, to figure out what is most important us, and to integrate it all into our lives.

Also, you do not have to choose what work you will do while in residence here. Other residency programs ask that you apply as either a writer or a visual/performing artist. I, for example, am both. At another artist residency, I would be seen as one or the other, given either a writer's studio or an artist's studio.

Rensing has given me the great gift of allowing me my writing practice and my studio practice. I have a comfortable writing desk in my cottage that looks out onto the woods, as well as whatever additional space I need to make visual work during my stay here. Rensing is a place of respite, reflection, and integration.

-Jennifer Rabin

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Commission in Progress

Nancy Lowe, artist, Rensing board member, and amateur science nerd (ask her about slime mold), and Ellen Kochansky, artist and Rensing Director, are collaborating on a fiber-based commission for Highlands Biological Station that will hang in their new wing.

I came across the two of them hard at work in the Rensing Center building today, panels for the final piece on every horizontal surface. The project is large in both scale and scope and Nancy and Ellen had the inspired idea of incorporating some of HBS's archived documents into it, as a nod to the organization's history.

Stay tuned for more progress photos and shots of the finished product.

-Jennifer Rabin

The friendliest goats in town

From left to right: Bluebell, Willow, and Claire

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Very Good Intersection

The Rensing Center is on Mile Creek Road, which is literally and metaphorically on the corner of Love + Care Road. I came here frazzled, with weights in my pockets, and Ellen welcomed me into the impossibly large and vital Rensing family, with tendrils that reach back through decades and over continents. In the past week, I have met more people who care about art and the environment and each other than I have in the previous six months.

It is beautiful here. There are goats who stick their necks through the fence when you pass by so that you will stop to rub their heads. There are butterflies drinking nectar around the clock on the bush outside my front door. Today, I spent the afternoon reading a book next to a waterfall. These are the things that bring your shoulders down from your ears, that lift the weights from your pockets, that remind you of the work that is important to you. But if you want to know the heart of this place, you can find it in the Rensing mantra: "It's the people, stupid." 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Goodbye, Hello

       Words can't describe how much I miss Rensing - the people, the goats, the breathing space, and the sparkling night sky. Again, Ellen thank you for opening your heart and home to Adriana and me. We will forevermore treasure not only the memories we created during our 6-week stay, but also the new outlook on life and art that we now carry with us. 

Chad's Goats, Pinhole #17, March 2014

Self-Portrait, Pinhole #14, March 2014

Adriana, Pinhole #24, March 2014

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Youtube link

Click here for a six minute meditative video collage featuring the goats, the South Carolinian landscape, and The Rensing grounds.