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Better Late Than Never

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

Some thoughts and memories from my second residency. . .

On campus in Cambridge for the January 2019 MFA in Visual Arts Residency.

I attended my second residency, a requirement for the MFA in Visual Arts degree that I am pursuing at Lesley University in Boston, in early January. Which means that it has only taken me two months to get my act together and write this blog post about it.

Part of the reason it took me so long to get to the task of writing this, is that after the stress of the holidays (which included a 9 day stay at my in-laws house in Memphis, TN and my daughter's 16th birthday on New Year's Day), followed closely by the intensive 10 day residency, I was totally run down and promptly got sick when I returned from Boston. And whatever I came down with, took me weeks to start feeling better from.

Once fully recovered though, the feelings of lethargy stayed with me, and it took me a while longer to get out from under my funk. The Government shutdown that we were embroiled in at the time, along with all of the negative political wrangling associated with it, didn't help my state of mind. Plus, I wasn't sure what direction I wanted to take in my studio practice this semester, and the feelings of ambivalence were starting to make me a little nervous. But I am happy to report from a two month leap forward in time, that I have worked my way through it.

I did this partly by writing about my angst in my first paper for the semester, which is entitled Possibilities: No Door or Obvious Point of Entry, and which you can read by clicking here if you have any desire to learn more about my feelings on the matter, as well as about some of the readings that I had to do for the Critical Theory II class that I took during the January residency.

I also did it by just getting back into the studio and painting. I ended up starting without any specific idea or plan about what I wanted to do or in what direction I wanted it to go, but what is important is that I just started and eventually, I began to feel a little better about everything. As my academic advisor for this semester, Stuart Steck, told me "I guess the only way to move forward is to produce, produce, produce ... Otherwise, one can easily fall victim to a state of creative paralysis. In the end, it is a numbers game." And of course, he is totally correct!

Photo collage pulled together from pictures taken during a "color walk" that I took through Cambridge.

One of the suggestions that I got during a critique of my artwork was to take a "color walk." Alex Jackson, an artist and the visiting faculty member for the January residency, told me to "go outside, pick a color, and follow it where it takes you until you get lost." So that is just what I did! One sunny, but really cold morning--it was Boston after all!--I followed the color turquoise. The photo collage above is a little roadmap to what I saw, in the order that I saw it (from top left to right). As I walked, I kept a look out for the color and when I saw it, that is the direction in which I decided to go.

I think the idea of a "color walk" is to slow down, pay attention, and really observe your surroundings. To be very intentional about looking around. This is something that we don't always do in our busy day to day lives. But it is really important for artists to always keep their eyes open, to observe, and to absorb their surroundings. I routinely try to remind myself to look up and down when I am walking around. It is amazing what you can miss if you don't change your visual perspective.

All of the pictures below are from another walk I took around Cambridge during my recent stay. I am inspired by the shapes and detail found in architecture and how it contrasts with the atmosphere around it, as well as with the organic patterns of the natural elements found within a cityscape. Ultimately, I am a city dweller and am very inspired by urban landscapes. I have also started to collect images such as these, as there is so much visual information that I can reference in my work.

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