I would like to thank the Ohio Arts Council again for the incredible opportunity of living and working in Provincetown, MA at the Fine Arts Work Center this summer. This was not only my first visit to Provincetown and the Fine Arts Work Center, but also my first residency experience. While at FAWC, I was able to complete one new series of work, start a second, participate in the 2015 Mono-print Project and take three workshops over the course of the summer.
I arrived to cold, grey, rainy skies and settled into my studio on the FAWC grounds and apartment a block away. I used the first two weeks to explore the town and the point of the Cape on foot and bicycle. I got to know my way around, found the grocery store, art museum and galleries and explored the beaches on the North and West coasts of the point. Once settled in and comfortable, I began sketching and taking pictures. I really responded to the water, it was my first extended visit to the Northeast Atlantic coast.
Towards the end of June I participated in the first of three workshops I would take as part of FAWC’s Summer Workshop series. “Discovering Drawing” with Paul Stopforth was interested in looking outside of the object and focusing on mark making rather than representation. This was beneficial in getting me to think outside of my usual practice of creating narrative with the figure.
In July I took my second workshop, “The Big Draw” with Daniel Heyman. In this workshop we thought about scale, drawing from the figure and landscape. We broke out of an easel size scale to work large enough to have to stretch physically to reach the entire surface, even breaking off the page entirely to experiment by drawing with tape on the wall and floor.
My final workshop, “Mono-print From the Figure” with Bert Yarborough, was in the middle of August. We would begin each day working from a model directly on plexi-glass plates with ink and brush or stylus or crayons and then printing them to get the results. We would experiment by then printing the ghost or working back into the plate with a new pose.
I was invited by FAWC board member, gallery director and summer print shop monitor, Bert Yarborough, to participate in the mono-print project. This is an annual program where artists are invited to spend a day in the print shop making mono-prints, with one selected from each artist and put up for auction at the work center’s annual benefit. My print was sold, along with hundreds of other pieces, in the most financially successful benefit auction to date.
In my studio, I was able to complete a series of nine drawings based on my response to being near the ocean for the summer. The drawings were a reaction to the water and inspired by color-field painter Helen Frankenthaler’s association with Provincetown and the cinematography from the movie Jaws, shot off Cape Cod on Martha’s Vineyard. I drew figures, with an ink pen, in an aquatic environment made with ink wash. The wash was applied with a sponge, soaking the paper and creating uniform color-field sections for the sky, ocean’s surface and under water. Being able to see all three areas at once creates a disorienting sense through a forced and flattened perspective. Steven Spielberg created a sense of isolation in the action sequences of Jaws by never showing land in the shot, even though they were actually filming just off the beach. Similarly, I isolated my figures by placing them in these color-field expanses with the sea floor, beach or pier only alluded to outside the picture.
I also started a second series dealing with a situation I was missing back home. In the spring of this year, my mother was diagnosed with lymphoma. She began her treatment before I left but was scheduled to finish her final two rounds of chemo and initial checkup while I was still in Provincetown. While away, I thought about everything she was going through and losing and all the support her friends and family were giving her. I started by drawing diptychs, a portrait of a family member and my mom, in pencil. I painted my mom’s thick, black hair in with ink and then cut it out and attached it to the family member; what she gave up they took on. I’m happy to say she is currently in remission and we hope she stays healthy. This series is currently on going.
At the end of August I was given the opportunity to have a show in the Hudson D Walker Gallery on the grounds at the work center. For this show, I decided to hang the water series I had completed along with examples of work from each workshop, the second series still in progress and the prints I made for the mono-print project. The result put in perspective just how productive I was able to be during my time at the work center as the show easily filled both halves of the gallery.
Living and working in Provincetown at the Fine Arts Work Center was an incredible experience. Being in a place with such important ties to the history of modern art in America, having three months to devote to work in the studio without distraction and having access to the artists and resources at the work center was all invaluable to growing and changing my experience and perspective as an artist.