On a search for a drill...and other lessons of the residency
I'm in my fourth week of a six week residency. Looking back, I'm seeing some patterns. The first week was the week of getting my footing. In fact, that first week, I didn't even move in any supplies into the studio. Week 1 was stumble around and dream week. There were several days when the kids were out of school=stumble. There was torrential downpour=stumble. And there was a lot of wondering; What will I do? How will I do it? What does building power mean? How do I measure social impact? = dreaming.
Week two of the residency was exploration and noticing week. I went to New Orleans and searched around for "What makes something holy or set apart? What makes something powerful or building power?" I noticed textures, geometry, and design. I met with the residency curator, Janelle Dunlap. She encouraged me to explore my voice in the visual pieces I would make for the show. She asked, "How will you tell the story in your work?"
Week three of the residency was a week of collecting. I collected items and thoughts and started bringing them together. During week three, things started to move quickly and build. I met my art studio roommate, MyLoan Dinh. Pieces came together. Folks came together.
And then week four. During week four, I spent two hours looking for a drill...and three hours scraping scum off of glass...and way too many hours gold leafing all the things...and hours waiting for paint to dry...and glue to dry...and better ideas to come. Week four has been about the small tedious things, which are often the prayer-full things. I wrote in my sketchbook, "I focused a lot on details...the process felt prayerful, intercessory, and also tedious- wanting everything to be just right, understood, stable, straight." Week four has been about seeing all the tiny things left undone or incomplete. It has been about awareness and eyes opened.
The visual project I am working on is called Reliquary: Evicted. A reliquary is a container for holy relics. I am building reliquaries to honor the evicted. As a part of this project, I have become more aware of the statistics of eviction in Charlotte, NC. Did you know that in 2019 there were 32,724 eviction cases filed in Mecklenburg County? 18,195 of those evictions were granted this year.
You can read more about housing and stability in the 2019 Charlotte-Meckleburg State of Housing Instability & Homelessness Report
The statistics make me grieve. Even more, I sat down the other day and took one minute to write down the names of people I knew who had been evicted in Charlotte. In just 60 seconds, I was able to account for 68 people I knew personally who had been evicted from their home. Eyes wide open.
I don't know what "normal" residencies are like. Maybe because this is my first or maybe because of the nature of the time and place, I have carried with me a sense of "fend for yourself"-ness throughout the weeks. Find what you need. If you can't find it, make it. Do the thing. The allure of wishing I knew how to use a specialty tool in the woodworking studio or wishing I could play in the print making studio has sent me on wandering trips throughout the McColl Center. I wander and then return and sometimes wander again.
I am grateful for the camaraderie with MyLoan. She joined the studio space in week three and has given great input when I get stuck. I hope I'll be able to work with and collaborate with the other artists before the six weeks are over. A few visitors have come by: a long time friend, a previous student from my campus ministry days, a guided tour. The guide led the group by my open studio door and onto the other residents' studios. I secretly wished they'd come in an talk or ask questions. Maybe they thought I was in the zone...all those tedious details in front of me.
We'll see what the next two weeks might show me. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is a part of those weeks, so I won't be in the studio as much during that time. Thankfully, the McColl center has offered to me to stretch out my time a little bit. I hope to use the extra time to finish my pieces and then to play. I want to play with the pottery wheel and in the printmaking studio. There'll be an Artists' Talk on December 12th. At the artist talk, we'll be sharing about our process, materials, and voice. The final art show will be January 10th. Once I know more details about time and place, I'll be sure to post this information on social media.