Tides Institute and Museum of Art, East Port, ME (1 month)
What to expect when traveling to the Eastern-most part of the United States? I arrive to East Port, ME with suitcases in hand after a long bus ride along Maine’s coastline. I have never been to Maine before and am instantly impressed that lobster rolls are for sale at the local McDonald’s. Where am I? I meet the program director Kristen McKinlay who graciously welcomes me into town. We drive through East Port, peering into the local shop windows until arriving to Studioworks, my new studio located on the main road with a storefront window. The location is spectacular. The view from the studio looks out onto the pier, with boats and ocean waves in the distance. A walk up the street takes me to my own historical house — furnished and all to myself!
The Studioworks residency runs in conjunction to the Tides Museum and Art Institute. It provides a free studio, printmaking equipment, housing and a stipend to off-set travel and food expenses. The residency encourages a social engagement project and exhibition upon completion. I am amazed by the spacious, beautiful resources this town has to offer. A bike is provided at my doorstep as well as a list of nearby hiking trails. Everyone I meet in town makes me feel instantly at home in this new place. The brightly lit studio and house uplift my spirits and inspire me to work.
“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.”— Henry David Thoreau
My first weeks are spent collecting photos of the town, documenting the local ecology, walking the coastline and collecting found materials. My eyes and mind are wide open, I am excited to see what this place will drive me to make. I receive gifts from locals, delivering freshly grown fruits and vegetables to my doorstep. I devour fresh blue berries, swisschard, beets, and zucchini grown nearby. This residency makes me feel so close to the land, its resources, and community. It is a self-sufficient place, where lobsters are caught right along the shore and whales swim by during a work break. East Port is healthy, clean, vibrant, and connected. It is as if I walked into a town that immolated what I hope society recognized more clearly —everything connects and the land is abundant when treated right.
Rain nourishes the land and shifting tides brings new life to the coastline. I am enthralled by the abundance of life on land and sea, where Earth’s process seem cyclical and connected. I am also inspired by the community, which is generous and grateful for their treasured home. This ignites a series of works that are site-specific and collaborative entitled Land, Sea, Air.
This new body of work consisted of a handmade puzzle containing 91 puzzle pieces depicting local ecology, a series of 13 paintings of diverse ecosystems, a series of photographed found-objects collected on the show, and two woven webs using donated and found material. Works were exhibited in two local galleries after my residency. This new series made me collaborate with a close-knit community which serviced my art and soul.
Grateful to new friends and collaborators that made this residency so special. I hope to return to East Port, ME sometime soon. Until next time!
Read an interview with Atlantic Magazine!