If you look back a few posts on this blog, you will get to read about the immense excitement I had for the opportunity to go to Stonington Maine on residency at the Stephan Pace House. It's been over a month since we have been back and I'm still editing away at the images I took and reflecting on the work I made.
The week at the Stephan Pace house was a greatly anticipated one by myself and my partner, Andrew, who joined me on the residency to create his own work. Just a little background about the two of us- The residency was an idea that we both felt would be a great opportunity to really focus on what we love and absolutely nothing else. We are both just out of college and working to pay our way in the “real world.” For this reason, rarely do we find the time to create work in our down time. Besides working full-time jobs in our fields (sorta), we are both also freelancing our work (which is in fact, very different than creating the work that you make for yourself). OH, and we just so happen to live in the tiniest one bedroom where our studios spill over into our living space, making it uninspiring to create most days. The pressure that we were both putting on ourselves before and during the week in Stonington, to make an abundance of work and utilize every second of the days while on residency, was maybe a little overbearing and unpractical. However, this self-inflicted pressure, pushed us harder than one would expect, to create work in a short window of time. In summary- the week at the Stephan Pace home, was well needed.
During our week, which fell at the very end of the summer, we experienced one of the wettest/ foggiest weeks that we could have imagined. Maybe a blessing in disguise, it proved to be a productive weather pattern for art making. The rain kept me indoors, in a house that oozed inspiration and creativity from every inch of the home, allowing me to create the images I had dreamed up. Until the sun or a tiny bit of light decided to break through the fog and dark clouds, I was busy building scenes, collections, and compositions. The moment the sun peeked through, I would race around the house with my camera, snapping the set up images. For a few images, I even waited the entire week to get enough light in a room to photograph it how I had imagined it.
My work has become a slow process of collecting and building throughout the year. To give a background on my work- I’ve become obsessed with the slow process that comes with the 4x5 camera. I know that I can take my time with this wonderful machine, while controlling every aspect of an image. From this, I started seriously sketching out images. I would draw out and describe every detail of how I wanted it to come to life. This has become a helpful tool that has made every image a work of art. To have control over what exactly I was photographing, I came up with the idea to begin making collections. Most collections I make, come from nature, as it’s ever present in my life, oh, and I have always been inspired by anything and everything beautiful. I found the collections, scattered around, to resemble my very own WunderKammer. Each image has become a scene from my ‘Cabinet of Curiosity.’ In fact, many of Stephan and Pam’s (the owners of the home) belongings/collections, became subjects of my images as well, as they seemed to be the ones that gave that home it’s creative juices.
Although the rain held us back from really fully taking advantage of the beautiful sea town, we did take advantage of some of the many wonders of having a week off from work and feeling the relaxation vibe take over. We found mornings most enjoyable on the porch, drinking coffee, reading, and felting. We sat out and watched lobster boats disappear into the fog and eventually we too would leave the porch and disappear to go our separate ways in the house to each do our work. Often for a few hours during the day we would go to the beach, a short ways a way, and pick blackberries or beach comb for broken pottery or small marine animals. The beach was good to us. It was empty and it felt like it was only us two on the whole island. Most nights were spent building fires inside and reading sea stories. Although most nights were restless, as we are convinced the house is haunted by Stephan himself (maybe we have become too much of city rats- accustomed to our tiny apartment). Either way, the house certainly was alive with everything that the Pace family has left behind.
Was the week a success? My intentions at the Pace House consisted of creating and building about 30 or so images that I would take with my 4x5 camera. The image ideas came from a list on my wall, written in chalk throughout the year; waiting to become an image captured on film. During the residency I created only 27, which is indeed a major accomplishment. The images ranged from pressed and dried flowers, to slingshots and skeleton keys, to sardine fish that were stranded on the beach. As embarrassing and disheartening as this may come across, the total number of successful images I was able to create in one week surpassed the number of images I’ve made over the past year. Needless to say, the week was an incredible success with my strongest body of work only growing.