I know it sounds like a glorified vacation –sometimes PAID vacation. But an artist seeks a residency for one reason: to advance the work.
Artists are misunderstood. Many people think we sit down at a table and just create! From our brains! It just comes out! Sometimes the great ones have angst. The bad ones have doubts. But we just create.
Well, sure. Sometimes it works like that. Rarely. Maybe once. I heard someone say.
No one creates in a vacuum. Creativity demands inspiration. A muse. A trigger that triggers something else that triggers the idea that triggers the work.
No one’s muse is the same. Time alone, away from other obligations. Travel. New people. New places. New ideas. Whatever an artist’s idea of inspiration is, a residency allows time and energy for the muse to find a home.
If the artist is attentive and ready to pursue the work, a residency can encourage the art to explode in content and excellence. It’s a solitary partnership of place and time and effort. It’s labor. It’s not a vacation.
About 2 years ago, Sukanya and Jeane started whispering about a residency together, collaborative. Not India, Sukanya said. Jeane would have been thrilled to go back to India with someone who knew the country, but that wasn’t fair for a residency. India gave Sukanya her soul, but it was too familiar.
We wanted to study goddesses, revered women. When a culture honors divine women, it’s possible to honor women of flesh. We both find that concept missing in our current land.
We chose Ireland for several reasons. Jeane’s paternal great-grandparents emigrated from Ireland but she knew NOTHING about the culture. She spent a few delightful days in a fishing village an hour north of Dublin in 2012, but didn’t explore the countryside. She longed for a stone circle!
Ireland captured our attention because it is one of the few places that continues to honor pagan goddesses, even in a modern form. In the goddess realm, Ireland has the allure of being “other-worldly.” There, people write of “thin places” in the land where worlds speak to each other. Mythology is strong and vibrant; it has a place in many peoples’ everyday lives.
We want to study that. Sukanya will bring her knowledge of Hindu goddesses to the Celtic land. Jeane will bring her study of Mesolithic and Neolithic symbols that appear with mysterious commonality in different cultures around the world and have similar meanings. Together, the symbols and stories will create the base for new work. Together and separate. Muses merging.
With the basis of a plan — in other words, where we wanted to be and basically what we want to do– we set upon creating the residency for ourselves.
To be continued…. Anatomy of an Artist Residency, Part II