The best part of going to a Residency is that you really don’t know what is going to happen. You make a plan and apply and if and when you get in, you charge forward into the unknown. I went to MASS MoCA with the plan to go and make BIG RAW SH*T. It turned out that I was going to MASS MoCA was just after the opening of Arousing Biophilia, an exhibition I was part of, curated by Shannon Amidon, in San Jose. So what is a girl to do? I jumped on a plane travelled to California had a great opening hung out in the warmer weather and checked out San Fransisco Museum of Modern Art…..well you never know when you will be influenced…..I fell in love!.
Czara z Babelkami – 2006 – Cedar – by Ursula von Rydingsvard
The pure physicality of this work just makes my heart pound. My love affair was short lived as I got on another plane and flew to Albany, and took an Uber in a snow storm to North Adams.
Now at MASS MoCA, what I really wanted was a clean studio with no baggage that I could move around in and work. I got one better, I got a door!
I always say in my applications that I am a person who likes new experiences and meeting people, which is true…..but I have to warm up a bit. I am an introvert so both of these things can be difficult. So my door was the best thing ever! I could chat with my roommates and get to know them and work solo. I did eventually open the door.
Meanwhile after lunch everyday I went into MASS MoCA. I started looking at the work, then read in the library and took some sunny naps on a bench. Best of all I got to know the place. There were always surprises but I was pretty knowledgeable by my second week. I was telling the tourist how to find their way and to check out the sound piece by Julianne Swartz. Every couple of days I would visit my favourite pieces.Cosmic Latte by Spencer Finch I would twirl under these lights.
Sound and Video work that was thoughtful and meditative.
Yeah, yeah it looks like …..but it’s actually an Adam’s Apple. I love this work!! So put this work with Ursula von Rydingsvard and my BIG RAW idea…….
So I start making these trees…..or I start with a stump…..…that turned into two…..…and then into three….In three weeks I made myself the starting of a mini forest! I toyed with the idea of lugging this work across town to fire them and canned that. These pieces were going home and if not I’ld take a baseball bat the them.I met great people and got to spend time in one of the most exciting Art Galleries I’ve seen. To roam everyday, inside and out, and get to know the work and the amazing space that it lives in. I could go on and on and on but I think if you have a chance go down to North Adams and check out MASS MoCA, well worth your time.Natasha Bowdoin
My trees did make it home fine in the back of the car. I fired them and one lives in my backyard for now. I love Residencies for the time and nothing they give me. I’m living in a new place with small adventures everyday. I get a clean space to make anything! I have lots and lots of time. I meet really interesting people and make new friendships. All of this mixes together in my head and the work always comes out great. It scary putting yourself out there, your work out there but in the end it is about you and the ideas and the material and that is life.
A shout out to my places of work, PRVHC and the City of Ottawa for giving me the opportunity to leave on these residency adventures. PRVHC also sees that this is a way to learn and bring back great ideas to share among my peers.
Canada Council for the Arts for their generous support during this time.