Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday March 24, 2015

Today marks just over a week of my two week residency here at the Rensing Center, and I already know the time to be too short…this rich mixture of companionship and solitude, reflection and discussion, against a backdrop of rapidly greening March hills has made for a very productive time.  It is often difficult to strike a balance between teaching (which I love) and my own practice.  Here I have been able to become utterly absorbed in my own work. 
I hear the tinkle of the goats’ bells from the adjoining meadow; the leaves of the giant magnolia glow in the afternoon’s still-warming sun…Walking and writing have enriched my daily practice while I have been here. Each day I have taken my journal to the waterfall to write and think.
From my journal yesterday:
10:42am The ground is damp from yesterday’s long rain and I saw the deeply imprinted prongs of deer tracks following the trail…A wild turkey burst from the brush as I was rounding the bend towards the creek.  The song of the creek is a little louder and more assertive after yesterday’s rain.
I’ve enjoyed the Rensing Center’s many outdoor spaces in between bursts of studio activity—a bench in the garden by the daffodils has become my favorite afternoon coffee spot. I’ve enjoyed cooking with bay leaves from outside Justina’s studio, and fresh oregano, sage, and parsley from the herb garden behind the pottery. Each day something new seems to burst into bloom.
This has been a pivotal time and place for me, and has allowed me the time and space to think broadly and deeply about my work without distractions. I know that I will take some of this momentum and energy with me.
-Ingrid Erickson, March 15-28, 2015

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Quieting the No's

My sense of creativity has been in a fallow period. Lots of changes, including an international move, were more of a drain than I'd realized and my “little haters” had jumped into my mental space to have a field day. “Not good enough, been done before, etc, etc.” All the “No's” that every artist faces seemed much louder and easy distractions proved to be more seductive. I knew something had to change, but my attempts at forcing discipline weren't working and only seemed to make me more depressed about the whole thing.

I'd been encouraged to apply to the Rensing Center before, but had never really given it serious thought; “Oh, I'm not a good enough artist, I'd just waste their time,” said the little haters. This year, however, I'd decided to really try to find my footing again, so I went for it. And here I am.

And boy is it helping!

I'm not usually one for rituals, but I found the Shred, Walk, Create exercise inspiring. (If you don't know it, keep reading the blog. Not only will you find out the details, you'll encounter some lovely stories!) It's a simple exercise, but surprisingly effective. My little haters are still there (they always will be) but I have a decisive reply to them now: “No, I've shredded that.” Since then, I've felt more able to work with the images that have been sitting quietly in the background, waiting their turn. Having time to focus in the beautiful, peaceful space is just the sort of nurturing environment I've needed, and for the first time in what feels like years I'm looking forward to playing with my ideas.


- J Kochansky
kochansky.org

P.S.  I first encountered the term "Little Haters" from Jay Smooth.  His video so well encapsulates the cycle I find myself in, that I recommend a viewing.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Looking backward, moving forward

It's difficult to believe that my four weeks here are nearly over. The time has gone by so quickly -- which seems strange in a way, given that the experience in many ways has been about slowing down, finding peace, and making art from a place of internal and external quiet. How can such an experience speed past me? How can a slow pace feel like it's gone quickly? It seems impossible, but maybe when creativity is flowing at its own pace, when one's activities connect with a sense of place and the rhythm of time there, the passage of time isn't as conscious, as labored, as it seems in normal life. In light of that, who would want to return to normal life?

Despite being a photographer, I've spent much of this residency working with book projects. In the last couple of weeks, I've built on the first object I made here, which I posted images of earlier -- the book that was a house. I've now created a second one, tall and winding, twisting upward, toward some idea of home. It's made from pages from an old manual for building houses. Perfect.

I also created another book using plastic animals and pages from an old dictionary. I love the way the lion moves through the book (or the book moves through the lion), and the way the structure of the book allows the animal to double back on itself, to follow itself round in circles:

I've enjoyed transforming existing books into new objects, and approaching bookbinding more playfully, experimentally, and sculpturally. The time and space to explore new ways of making that differ from my usual processes has been valuable.

And now I pack up -- all this art and more (yes, there is more... too much to show in a blog post) -- and prepare to move onward. I'm tremendously grateful for the opportunity to be here, to have been here. Every once in a great long while, you find exactly what you need -- and the quiet time to work on art, to rethink my own creative process, and to spend time in nature has been exactly what I needed... and didn't know I needed until I was here.  I will try to take that peaceful immersion in creativity with me when I go, and to continue what has begun here, wherever I might find myself in the future. 

-- Ann Mansolino
www.annmansolino.com