Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Anthropocene


Slowing down is the key to the pace of working at the Rensing Center. In this secluded and picturesque countryside in South Carolina one can find space and time to focus on the arts.  

A week ago I moved into a spacious former pottery studio that provides an ideal live-and-work space tucked away from busy cities and highways. Waking up in the morning, I’m drawn to my work desk with my first cup of coffee. When wired to my work, there is so much more time for experiments, explorations and process, without any time pressure. 

This is a place to connect with the natural environment through hikes to nearby creeks and state parks. Currently I'm exploring themes related to geology and deep time, and their entanglement with geopolitical issues. My research goes in two directions, on one side exploring actual sites, where deep time is revealed through washed out creeks, waterfalls and monumental rock formations, and on the other side digging into new publications and conversations about the Anthropocene. The Rensing Center is a perfect environment for my artistic searches and discoveries in both forms of exploration.

The organic farm on site allows residents to work in the garden and cook homegrown vegetables fresh from scratch. There’s never a starving artist here! The Rensing Center is a wholesome place to stay, to process, to explore and produce. 

Moving in day 1



Setting up my workplace day 2




After dumpster diving



Working on small scale experiments day 3



Exploration day 3



Exploration day 4


First selection of small scale work arranged as a Cabinet of curiosity in my studio space day 5



Experiments on a larger scale in front of the pottery barn workspace day 6


Experiments on a larger scale in front of the pottery barn workspace day 7




Assisting dog Odie:-) 
Experiments on a larger scale in front of the pottery barn workspace day 7




Continuous work on a super hot day 8 





-Artemis Herber

 http://www.artemisherber.com/Welcome.html

Friday, June 9, 2017

Getting Lost In Pickens, SC

“...to be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery. And one does not get lost but loses oneself, with the implication that it is a conscious choice, a chosen surrender...” - Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Ellen greets me first thing in front of the EKO House
Today is the second-to-last day of my stay at The Rensing Center. It is about 9 am. It is early June. The air is clean and cool. The sky is the same shade of blue it has been nearly every morning—unfussy but completely luminous. Occasionally there are shapely white clouds.

There is a rhythm to the weather here. As the day goes on, the sun will likely warm this little kingdom until we are all fanning ourselves. The air will grow thick. The blue sky will slowly pack itself with juicy rainclouds and, at the densest point, at the center of the afternoon, a hard rain will fall and it will feel like a great and powerful exhalation. I will sit in the guest house that has been my home for a month, with both doors open, and listen to it move across the land. It will smell wonderfully.

Chuck & Izzy are attentive guests at
 "Healing Conversations: Remember"
Early in my stay, I had a conversation with Ellen about the necessity for both order and chaos in anything worth having or doing. It’s a dichotomy we’ve each spent some time thinking about, and have dealt with in our respective projects. Order is useful. It can even be liberating. When things go as planned, predictable and satisfying as the ticks of a second hand, we begin to feel safe. We say to ourselves, now we can let things run themselves a little while we ruminate and dream. But this is, of course, an illusion. We know it is, even as we’re thinking it. Disruptions happen. We roll with the punches. We adapt, and in adapting to the unpredictable, we arrive at new levels of understanding. A little chaos, too, is useful. What about a lot of chaos, though?

The six months leading up to my time at The Rensing Center resembled an elaborate obstacle course for some kind of hardcore chaos boot camp. I had thought that this residency would be an escape. I could leave the mess where it was and come to this tranquil hideaway to create and enjoy some peace and quiet. The thing about solitude, though, is that it isn’t always peaceful. And the thing about creation—it requires you to confront the mess, not hide from it.

The World-Class Pickens Flea Market  
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to put my finger on just what makes The Rensing Center so special. It is difficult clearly define, and still more difficult to put into words. Solitude here is served all-you-can-take. It is by turns exactly what you need, and completely overwhelming. When the latter happens, you can walk down the hill and join Ellen, Deb, or a fellow resident in conversation or activity. There is always something to do with your hands if you, like me, need physical activity to center your mind. And the aforementioned rhythm of the days serves as a comfort and an exfoliant. Every day you shed a little more of what is dead, useless, excessive, in favor of what is living and nourishing to your spirit and process. You relearn how to be fully where you are. You notice everything. You heal.

Who can resist a good old-fashioned Meat & Three?
There is a time to write and there is a time to feed the mystery inside you that make writing possible. In the same way that gardening is not simply about harvesting pretty green lettuces, ready to eat—you pull weeds, you hoe rows, you turn compost, you plant seeds, you try to gently keep the pests away, and you wait—writing is not as simple as sitting down at a desk and harvesting pretty green poems. If I’m stressed, if I haven’t slept or eaten properly, if I haven’t been reading enough, how can I expect my writing to flourish?
Over the past month I have been solitary in places that challenge me and make me feel wonder. I have spent time with strangers, whose stories awaken my imagination and empathy, whose differences are a reminder that the world is wide and that people are basically good.

When I leave here in two days, I will return to that chaos boot camp. Major changes are afoot in my life, and in the lives of those close to me. Some are exciting changes; some are tragic; some are just mysterious; all will cast me into unknown depths. Thankfully, I am balanced and ready. I will take Rensing with me.

-Chelsea Whitton
www.chelseawhitton.com







Saturday, June 3, 2017

CONTEMPORARY AESTHETIC AND NATURE

The grounds and interiors of The Rensing Center display a collection of works by some of America's most collected and well-known American Fine Craft Artists.  When walking the grounds and spending time within the houses and educational buildings at Rensing, the aesthetic is right.
  

Works displayed share examples of contemporary fine craftsmanship in a multitude of mediums.  Rensing buildings and grounds prominently feature ceramic works, including a variety of clays, glazes and firing techniques (both wheel and hand-built), fiber and textile pieces, paintings, photography, prints, social justice pieces, mixed media, sculpture, blacksmith iron and metal work.

  

All share an earthly aesthetic that connects to Rensing’s emphasis on nature, whether one is working in or viewing the gardens and pastures, or simply enjoying them as backdrops to joyful get-togethers with progressive discussions about art and the environment.

The preeminent Artist Residency in South Carolina, on 27 acres, serving up to three Residents at a time, along with community programs.  When the aesthetic is right, magic can happen.  The works displayed at Rensing are ever-changing, but the core of the contemporary craft collection includes pieces dating back to artists working at the beginning of the American Craft Movement, nearing the end of the Black Mountain College reign.

  

Director Ellen Kochansky's work was included in 1993's "The Year of American Craft" by then President Bill Clinton, and was featured with the first White House Collection of American Crafts in 1995. This heritage of American artistry is a constant inspiration due to the contemporary aesthetic and nature. 



The Rensing Center's history is rooted in arts and education.  Artists of all disciplines, writers, musicians and environmentalists from all over the world come here and can immerse themselves in an art history that is visually placed in nature, all in perfect alignment with Rensing's mission and desire to elevate a harmonious experience.

- Catherine Cross Tsintzos, Interdisplinary Artist