A Week in the Country

In late September, I did a weeklong residency at Spark Box Studio in Prince Edward County, Ontario. I was thrilled to have this opportunity.

Residencies are designed to give artists the thing they need the most: unfettered time to work (see my post Who Does She Think She Is?). I understood the importance of this time, but rarely having had it, didn’t realize how absolutely profound it would be. Without the pressure to work at a tightly-scheduled time, my creative practice had space to do what it needed to do. At the beginning, I mostly explored the area, by car and by foot. Prince Edward County is an almost-island that juts out into Lake Ontario, with rocky beaches and rolling farmland. I started photographing the landscape, focusing on pattern and form: storm clouds, the rocky shoreline, a row of trees along the horizon of a field. Back in the studio, I made sketches of these forms, and then juxtaposed them in new ways to make abstract compositions.

As I developed a series of pieces, including a three-by-five foot drawing and an etching, I came to a realization: however deconstructed and abstracted it is, my work is essentially landscape.

Whether it’s the landscape of my mind or a more direct reference to the world I see in front of me, it’s my interpretation of the forms and rhythms of the natural world as it juts up against the built world. I am excited to more explicitly pursue this idea, and am starting to translate my mark-making and imagery into color.

Another aspect of my work at Spark Box, which was so instructive for me, was moving back and forth between making drawings, a process that is very intuitive, direct, and spontaneous for me, and etchings, which requires a very different visual and conceptual sensibility and process. I am excited to continue to work in these complementary ways.

The overall experience was mind-blowing--to be validated as an artist and afforded this space and time, to be able to lose myself in hours of work with no interruptions, and to share a beautiful old farmhouse with fellow residents Folksblogen, Joanna Gresik, and Chrissy Poitras and Kyle Topping, who run Spark Box. Chrissy and Kyle started Spark Box as a way to support other artists while allowing them to pursue their own art careers; their vision and values have inspired me to think more creatively and collectively about how to build a sustainable art career for myself. I am incredibly grateful for this experience and can’t wait for the next residency opportunity that comes along.