The photo i took on wednesday evening of my rauschenberg residency brother, lance gries, as lance, tony lewis @_tony_lewis_ and i watched the sun set over the gulf of mexico on captiva island, florida.
My previous post showed matt hall and me "shelling" on tuesday morning, a popular activity here on sw florida's captiva island where nine artists and i are participating in this 6-week session of the rauschenberg residency. on wednesday evening i had lance gries, a nyc-based dancer, and tony lewis @_tony_lewis_, a visual artist from chicago, to thank for pushing my rented balloon-tired sand wheelchair onto the beach so i could watch and photograph the sun set over the gulf of mexico. lance took this picture of me, and if you look at my next ig post, you will see the picture i took of him.
Thanks to matt hall of the rauschenberg residency staff, on tuesday morning i was able to get out on the beach for the first time since arriving here on captiva island on march 6. as you can imagine, my mobility scooter does not handle sand well at all, but buddy's rentals on sanibel island has the answer to that in this balloon-tired wheelchair. since this apparently is the finest shelling area in the world, i wanted to give it a try. and matt was the perfect person to show me the ropes. that man really knows his shells and has a fantastic eye for finding the tiniest examples of a multitude of species. it was such fun!
When i talk about working in the main studio, this is the building to which i refer. my studio is on the second floor and is accessible by elevator. the scale of this working space is huge because that was the scale of the work that bob rauschenberg often made. but somehow it also feels quite intimate, light and bright and filled with good energy. it is an absolute privilege to work here and i often feel the presence of bob, as if he is working in the studio next to me. although his body died in 2008, in my opinion that man will never die.
What a glorious way to spend an evening, here in the main studio by myself working on one of my ink drawings while listening to the vijay iyer trio on my iphone. the amazing thing is i could stay here all night if i wanted to. bob rauschenberg used to work through the night regularly. i don't think i'll be doing that, but i could if i wanted. how i love this rauschenberg residency!
The key to navigating a six-week artist residency like the rauschenberg residency is to trust that you can make no mistakes. or put a different way, that every mistake can lead to a new beginning. i can't help but think that is how bob rauschenberg made the art he did, art with no boundaries, no limits and all possibilities.
the image i share today was created in response to what i saw as an absolute disaster last week. i was trying to create a screen print and messed up on every effort. that night i felt pretty low. but today, five days later, i thought, "i can't mess up any more than i already have so why don't i cut these prints up and see what i can do with them." and this is what i ended up with. i can't say that it's great but it is certainly better than what i started with. besides it was fun. and i'm beginning to think having fun is an essential part of making art! update: it is now monday and i have grown to like this collage very much indeed. sometimes i have to sit with my art before i know how i feel about it. this one is now hanging on the wall in my studio, so that tells the tale ;-)
I have our studio assistant, april, to thank for printing my photo collages that i have created using photos i have taken here at the rauschenberg residency over the past two weeks. and i have my artist residency brother, sopheap pich, to thank for hanging the prints in my studio this afternoon. and finally, i have my artist residency sister, zarina rimbaud-kadirbaks, to thank for taking this photograph.
we are all working together even as we pursue our individual artistic projects during our six weeks here in this magnificent place and program. i feel surrounded by the love and support that give me the courage to try new things. these photo collages are an example. i have never before created anything like them. and i have never before seen my photos printed this large. seeing prints of my photographs hanging on the wall makes them feel real in a way that seeing them on a computer monitor never does. i need to be doing this for myself at home as well as here.
For the first time in two weeks, i am taking the day off. of course i will take some photographs but that is not my goal. my intention today is to relax and savor every minute of this glorious day here at the rauschenberg residency.
i had another of my strange middle-of-the-night creative awakenings where i worked on my photos at my computer from 2:30-5:15 am, so i slept in until 11 am this morning. i then took a slow-moving scoot through the jungle where i stopped for timeless time under a tree where yellow and black swallowtail butterflies circled overhead and mating lizards perched on branches and puffed out their semicircular red throat sacks.
back at the curator house that berlin-based sound artist andrea parkins and i share, i sat on the deck, ate granola with yogurt, and read more stories in detroit author desiree cooper's magnificent book, "know the mother." after awhile andrea came back from her studio; we visited and then she offered to do laundry for both of us. i love my housemate!
i then scooted over to the fishhouse and was delighted to hook up with tony and his girlfriend emily who is visiting from chicago. weekends during this artist residency are designated as times when significant others can visit and stay overnight. during the week, it is just us 10 artists and the staff.
i am now at the weeks house sitting on the porch where we eat our meals that are prepared by our chef-in-residence @isaaclsaunders and his assistant, lori. the food has been delicious, and i was deeply touched at wednesday lunch when lori made a veggie burger for me because i had said i like them. we are on our own for meals on the weekends and tonight the gang is going again to doc ford's restaurant where we had gone for dinner and drinks last saturday night.
the book you see open in front of me is the 2004 edition of mary lynn kotz's book, "rauschenberg." the author is working on a new edition and will be here on the land on tuesday. apparently she would like to interview us artists because she wants to include a section on the rauschenberg residency. i want to have a familiarity with her book before my interview. what i have seen thus far is wonderful.
I am taking you on a scooter ride through the jungle on robert rauschenberg's 20 acres of land on captiva island, florida. this is just one of the magnificent parts of the rauschenberg residency that i love so much. i have now been here two weeks and am delighted that i have four weeks to go.
I worked most of the day on this photo collage of my rauschenberg residency brother sopheap pich creating his drawing. it was such an interesting process of simplifying, simplifying, simplifying. could it be that i am finally learning that less is more?
My beautiful bedroom in the curator house at the rauschenberg residency. this is where i sleep, dress and work on my macbook pro downloading my photos and creating photo collages. there is also a totally wheelchair accessible bathroom with a roll-in shower, lowered sink and elevated seat toilet with grab bars that the wonderful rauschenberg residency staff redesigned according to my long list of special needs. i would not be here without their generous spirits, ingenuity and months of hard work. i am also deeply grateful to the @rauschenbergfoundation for supporting and encouraging these renovations.
Actually, my helpful firefighters [see previous post] recommended i go down to the mucky duck restaurant parking lot and try to see the sunset from there. thanks for the suggestion, shaun, zack and paul!
Yesterday's adventure starred paul, shaun and zack of the captiva fire department who answered my phone call for help when i got stuck on a sandy path in town trying to scoot over to the gulf of mexico to photograph a sunset! the only thing lacking on this beautiful island is a boardwalk so folks like me could get to the ocean. ah well, on friday our intrepid matt hall is going to lift me onto a boat so i can join my artist companions here at the rauschenberg residence on our boat excursion around the islands. it won't be sunset but i am certain it will be beautiful! oh yes, i almost forgot. matt said he will rent me one of those beach wheelchairs with the big tires and push me down onto the beach so i can get a sunset picture during my residency. what would i do without matt??!!
Sopheap pich was gracious enough to let me watch him paint today and even to photograph him working. it is what i would call a zen process with precise repetition and quiet dedication. now, sopheap has all those qualities but he is also very funny and full of life. sopheap lives in phenom penh, cambodia and recently designed and had built a mammoth studio that is quite modern and very similar to the studio we work in here. sopheap has numerous assistants so rarely works alone. he is enjoying this opportunity at the rauschenberg residence to be in the studio by himself. by the way, sopheap chose and carved his bamboo painting stick and the bamboo ink holder. he has been working on this drawing for a week and expects it to be completed sometime tonight. hopefully, i will be able to show you a better photograph of the completed drawing when it is hanging on his studio wall. it is magnificent.
One of the many aspects of this artists residency that i am loving is being able to be on my own creative clock without worrying about the world's usual clock. like this morning, for instance. i went to bed last night around 11 pm, woke up at 1:30 am, and got up at 3 am. i worked until 6:30 am on this photo collage that i had started yesterday morning. after posting this entry i'll be going back to bed and sleeping until i'm ready to wake up. that's what i mean about being on my own clock.
i'm not even sure this photo collage works, but i'm going to share it with you anyway. i knew soon after i'd found out about being awarded the rauschenberg residency that one of the projects i would want to work on was photographing the residency from the inside, especially my artist colleagues as they created their art. i just didn't know i would be presenting it like this! but here you see, from left to right: 1) eric mack @ernatmack starting to work with his textile finds from yesterday's trip to a sanibel island resale shop; sopheap pich shooting pics with his brand-new leica camera and 50mm lens; and zarina rimbaud-kadirbaks @dutchgirlinlondon trying out screen printing during carrell courtright's tutorial last week. i have set them in the jungle here on bob rauschenberg's 20 acres of land where we are living for six weeks on captiva island, florida.
and now to bed...
This is just a corner of my beautiful studio where i do my ink drawings. there are three of us working in what's called the main studio. this is where bob rauschenberg made so many of his mammoth combines, prints, paintings and sculptures. in a studio on the other side of the wall that holds my drafting table, the cambodian sculptor sopheap pich is making large drawings. and in a studio behind and to the right of sopheap's, the nyc-based textile/mixed media sculptor and installation artist eric mack is working. these fellows are marvelous companions, especially when we're working late at night. each of us is quite focused on our own projects, but occasionally we stop to chat. i always know i could count on them for help if i needed. have i mentioned what an incredible honor it is to be in the company of these remarkable artists?
I have now been in this magical place for a week and it's hard to describe in words how it makes me feel. as some of you know, i first learned in early december 2015 that i had been awarded one of the three prizes given annually by the international photo competition critical mass that is sponsored by @photolucida. my prize was to be a participating artist at the rauschenberg residency. i waited 15 months before it was time for my six-week session. i arrived here on monday, march 6 and will leave on friday, april 14.
i understand that many things we anticipate don't always turn out as well as we had hoped. after only a week i can say that this experience is better than i could ever have imagined. i would say it is a dream come true except for the fact that i would never have known to dream this big.
today april, our studio assistant, printed my first photograph and as you can see in the photo, i am pretty delighted! it is the photo collage i have been working on night and day since saturday, and we printed it 34.5 x 23 inches at 150 dpi. i'm very pleased with how it turned out and hope to continue making more of these collages while i am here.
so now it is time for me to scoot over to enjoy another of our chef-in-residence @isaaclsaunders delicious dinners with my nine artist colleagues.