In Sept, I was granted an amazing opportunity. I was offered an artist in residency by the Arts Center of Yates County (YCAC). It was an amazing experience and I took away more from the experience than I could have imagined. When I applied for the residency, I was drawn by the beauty of the residence and area, excited about my proposed project. I also hoped-for a little time for reflection and rejuvenation.
The project I proposed was photographing business women with the animals that they live with or work with. I was thrilled when my proposal was accepted.
Details of my project will follow in the coming posts, but for now I wish to focus on the overall experience. Although working on a project, I also hoped for some time to reflect on a tough year filled with challenges and stress in pursuing my photography as a business as well continuing my full-time work.
When I arrived, Kris Pearson, the executive Director of the Arts Center showed me around the property. Sunny Point is nestled in a little niche of Keuka Lake. It is alongside other camps on the Lake, but the shape and geography of the space gives you a sense of solitude. The bench and willow tree at the Point of the property is a wonderful place to sit and brainstorm, read or reflect. The cottage had 3 bedrooms and beautiful hardwood floors. There was a porch that extended across half of the house. The artist studio is in the red barn. It has a wide-open space for working, a little sitting room/dining room and a huge porch across the entire length of the barn, wonderful for dinner parties. It was here that the board of the Arts Center hosted a wonderful dinner to meet other artists involved with the Arts Center as well as themselves. The boathouse has been turned into a pottery shed which upon my arrival was filled with individuals associated with the Arts Center finishing up projects prior to winter.
While we toured the property, Kris offered a little insight on the benefactor of this beautiful property. This property was donated by Dr Annie Smith who was an Art History Professor at Sheridan College of the University of Toronto. Annie had grown up in Elmira and as a youth spent a lot of time in the Keuka Lake region. Sunny Point became Annie’s second home. In 1986 Annie was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a lengthy battle with cancer which she documented through her book “Bearing up with Cancer”. In this book she used her signature little cartoon bear to portray the experiences she had during her battle with breast and subsequent ovarian cancer. Throughout that time, Sunny Point was her refuge. Annie had indicated that Sunny Point was a place where she felt restored in body and mind. Annie donated the property to the Arts Center of Yates County upon her death in hopes that it’s history for gathering people in friendship, art and healing would continue. As Kris recounted the history, she happened to indicate that unbeknownst to them, the majority of Artists’ chosen for the residence had also battled cancer. It was only after they arrived at the residency, that it became known. I then told Kris of my own battle with breast cancer. It seems as if Annie is looking down upon the Arts Center and helping them guide their decisions in whom to choose as an Artist in Residency.