I'm finishing a four week residency at the Rensing Center in Pickens, South Carolina. It's difficult to believe my time here is nearly over. It's gone so quickly -- which seems strange, given that the experience of being in this rural environment has in many ways been about slowing down, finding peace, and making art from a place of greater internal and external quiet. How can quiet speed by? How can a slow pace feel like it's gone quickly? It seems impossible, but maybe when creativity is flowing at its own pace, when one's activities connect with a sense of place and the rhythm of time there, then the passage of time isn't as conscious, as labored, as it seems in normal life. In light of that, who would want to return to normal life?
Despite thinking of myself as a photographer, I've spent must of this residency working with book projects. I started with a book in the shape of a house (see an earlier blog post for an image of this). I've now created a second one, tall and winding, twisting upward, toward some idea of home. It's made from pages of an old manual for building houses. Perfect.
I also created books using plastic animals that I'd sawed in half and pages from an old dictionary. Here's one of those. I love the way the lion moves through the book (or the book moves through the lion), and the way the structure of the book allows the animal to double back on itself, to follow itself around in circles:
The time and space to explore new ways of making that differ from my usual processes has been so valuable -- I've loved being able to approach bookbinding more playfully, experimentally, and sculpturally.
And now I'm packing up, and preparing to move onward. I'm grateful to be here, to have been here. Every once in a great long while, you find exactly what you need -- and the quiet time to work on art, to rethink my own creative process, and to spend time in nature has been exactly what I needed... but didn't know I needed until I was here.
If any artists out there are looking for a residency that allows for reflection and creation in a peaceful rural setting, I'd very much recommend coming here.
It's a good place. I will be sorry to leave. Hopefully, I will return someday.