I am fortunate to have been selected as one of two artists to initiate the Big River Continuum artist residency. Partner artist and Indigenous sister from the Houma Nation Monique Verdin was able to come up for a three-week September exchange from the other end of the Mississippi. Together we were able to plant seeds for a plan to work both collaboratively and individually on creative work about our love and concern for water.
On March 17, 2020, I was scheduled to travel down to New Orleans to A Studio in the Woods, our partner in the exchange. The pandemic spread of COVID-19 changed everything rapidly and my trip was postponed. It was a particularly devastating blow for me as this was going to be only my second artist residency in twenty years. I had carefully prepared for this opportunity to have this time for a sole focus on my own creative work. With travel bans and stay at home orders on the horizon, I cancelled my train reservation at the very last moment. It was then that I realized what a stubborn optimist I am and how this can be both a blessing and a curse. After a brief emotional collapse, I struggled through the disappointment and realized I still had options. I could make my work. I called in my Finnish sisu and with much encouragement am forging a new plan to contemplate, conceptualize and create.
I know Art has the capacity to change the world in powerful ways. As I creatively explore new terrain, there is both a challenge and opportunity to move forward as an artist.
This blog site is a way for me to share this new journey
Although the pandemic has forced a detour, it is my intention to keep focus on the experience of the change itself. That being said, stay at home orders are in place. I find structure and opportunity to really focus on my work falling quickly into place. This has resulted in many cool ideas in various states of conceptualization and partially completed bodies of work.
The Misi-ziibi, is an ever-present powerful spirit always in my peripheral. Now with ice breaking and the sky able to admire its reflection again I realized my Big River Continuum creative journey needs to be here right now in conversation and communion with the headwaters, Misi-ziibi starting places.
I will travel to Bulbancha, the “Place of Many Languages,” New Orleans at a later date and it will be a different place than the one I was originally going to see. But I know the River and the land will still be there as always, ever constant ever changing. And I will be seeing it through a new lens. With many thanks to the Watermark Art Center I look forward to sharing what happens.
The Big River Continuum was initiated in the Fall of 2019. With two artists. The University of Minnesota Itasca Biological Station, The Weisman Art Museum and Tulane’s A Studio in the Woods have established the creative exchange program linking communities from the headwaters to the delta of the Mississippi. Monique Verdin’s residency experience: https://wam.umn.edu/2019/10/14/palms-to-pines-what-a-river-weaves/