Artists and scientists set foot on the Playa

PLAYA, Summer Lake, OR (2 weeks)

“And when you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

—  Friedrich Nietzsche

I just arrived to PLAYA Art & Science Residency in Summer Lake, OR. There is no better way to describe my experience than to show it. It is beautiful here and it feels like an alien planet. A surreal landscape surrounded by viscous mud and framed by an ever-changing, multicolored horizon.

Here there are 10 residents including artists, writers, poets, a filmmaker and a volcanologist. Each of us have a cabin with built-in studio positioned along the vast, flat playa. The playa is a large, shallow alkali lake that floods in winters and dries up to a desert in summers. Here we are fully exposed to the elements — extreme weather changes storm through the playa. Strong winds, sleeting snow, pouring rain, and hot sun take turns coloring the land. Nature is untouched here, raging in its glory!

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The creative atmosphere at PLAYA is professional and supportive. Each artist and scientist is committed to their craft, spending days buried in the studio or writing. Open Studios took place at the end of the week. Locals from Summer Lake and Paisley drove to PLAYA for an afternoon of art sharing and readings. Artists opened sketchbooks, displayed artworks, and shared projects with visitors. We gathered for readings by authors, scientists, and poets. Filled with awe and inspiration, we bonded by our craft.


Grateful to be here among such talent. This experience is made possible by generosity of donors and grants, providing artists time and space to conceptualize, internalize, and create. We have dinners as a group twice a week. A fellow artist leads yoga classes and a local health practitioner guides Feldenkrais sessions for us if we choose. This residency experience is open-ended, providing privacy and shared moments. Here it is comfortable and quiet, providing all that is needed to nourish mind, body, and soul.

This week, I painted on yupo paper which is a new material for me. Yopo is a plastic sheet that resists paint, resulting in multicolored pooling effects. Loose painting is inevitable and dripping watered-down acrylics makes for unexpected results. I created a series of ten small paintings displaying observations of Summer Lake, OR.

My goals for this two-week residency is to experiment with new processes and material, kickstart new projects, and research ecological systems in a deeper way. Writing, reading, painting, sculpting, and reflecting on where nature and society collide, including the tradeoffs we increasingly deal with as we shape our future. This is in an effort to consider an important question: what is the price of progress? Findings from this residency will inform concepts for my upcoming solo exhibition at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in June 2018.

This week is a push and pull between seeking and internalizing system’s-based themes to find deeper meaning and direction. It takes time to conceptualize new work, fueled by new discoveries in the making.