10 days as an Artist In Residence

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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.

 

The enchantment of the place enveloped me. Sunny Point had much to offer; not only as far as recreation and beauty on the Lake, but I also experienced all types of weather which is a photographer’s dream. At times there was a strong wind on the point, at other times there was a deep calm. Sitting on the Point, I could listen to the waves crash on the shore and with each wave, it could bring with it an inspiration and take away a little bit of stress. The residency came at a time that I was feeling overwhelmed with the stresses of trying to run a business as well as working a full-time job. I was feeling my energy waning as the stress was compounding. My time at Sunny Point helped solidify the knowledge that I needed to make some changes as a working Artist. I was so busy trying to do everything myself: the art, the website, the social media, the marketing that I was in danger of losing my joy for the art itself and was literally exhausted. I found I need to take more time for myself, and that I need to seek out the help of others in managing some of the business details I found difficult to keep up with while working a full-time job.

It has been a couple months since my Residency and I have started to make some changes, although that can be a slow process as well. In the coming posts I will give you some insight on the Arts Center of Yates County and my experiences during the week.

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