As autumn approaches, we’re excited to share some of the incredible sculptures that have been made by Franconia artists-in-residence this year. In 2014, we awarded 10 competitive residency fellowships to emerging and mid-career artists from across the country this year. Over the course of the year, the Fellowship Artists were in residence for between three weeks to three months completing ambitious, large-scale artwork for exhibition in the 30-acre sculpture park. During their residency, artists receive room and board, access to equipment and tools, studio space, mentoring, technical assistance, and all the advantages of collaboration in a focused artist community. So far, we’ve installed five new sculptures by Fellowship Artists, and expect to install five more by the end of September. Here’s a quick recap of the projects we’ve supported so far this year.
Jerome/FSP Fellowship Artist, Torkwase Dyson, Site on Sight: The Door of No Return
Site on Sight is a re-imagining of the Door of No Return at the Elmina Slave Castle in Ghana West Africa. The artist re-designed to Door of No Return. This was the door that that enslaved African traveled through before being sold in the Americas.
Torkwase recently remarked on her experience creating work at Franconia, “It really seemed like I could do anything, looking at the site and seeing what other people had done. It let me make these reductions that were important for my new work. I wanted a space where I could strip all of that stuff out, and safe space to do that and a space that was quiet, where I could sort of start anew. Franconia seemed like a space to experiment seriously. Seriously experiment on these very dense and conceptual ideas. And that’s what happened.”
Jerome/FSP Fellowship Artist, Kambui Olujimi, Dam
This work is a metaphoric dam that stands in for the invisible structures that filter out diversity. A lot of what we think of as “normal” has to do with keeping out that which is different. As a country and as a society, there’s great effort and expense put forward to maintain this “normality” and to make it seem natural or inevitable.
Kambui recently discussed the impact that creating his work at Franconia will have on his career, “In terms of my professional career, the value of my time at Franconia will become evident in the months and years to come. I believe that the impact of my time there is multi-layered, and will be determined by the relationships that develop over the years with the other artists and the staff, the understanding of the process of making, and the reception of the work over time. As it relates to my practice, this work was a great first step to a new, larger body of work that I’m looking to develop. To have a series of large-scale sculptures, especially in a city, is challenging, so this was a chance to create momentum moving forward for the creation of other dams in other places.”
Open Studio Fellowship Artist, Mike Calway-Fagan, Dyramid
Dyramid is a pyramidal formation of taxidermic deer mounted on a steel armature. The six bucks, five whitetail deer and one mule deer, were purchased from decommissioned museum displays, private collections, professional and amateur taxidermists, auction houses, etc. Unlike the majority of the works in the park that, through their material composition and monumentality, attempt to defy death, Dyramid will slowly disintegrate.
Mike discussed his experience as both a Fellowship Artist and Intern Artist at Franconia; “I think I have a very specific relationship to this place because I was an intern here, so there’s a degree of sentimentality that is unavoidable. Having been an intern and both loved and hated my experience, I was interested in coming back to meet the challenge from a new perspective.”
Open Studio Fellowship Artist, Chris Manzione, Dazzle
Chris discusses his approach to Dazzle, “I was hoping to create an initial mis-perception from a distance that continues and changes as you approach and move around the sculpture. This effect is emphasized by the high contrast white and black rectilinear pattern on the surface that interacts with the overall shape of the sculpture. At a certain point you begin to realize what it is your seeing and why you might have seen it incorrectly at first. The accuracy and way your perception functions is brought to your attention. The form of the sculpture is very polygonal like that of a digitally created 3D model. I like the idea that in an image or a picture of this object, it might appear to be digitally rendered and not a real physical thing. More people are going to see the picture of this sculpture rather than the sculpture itself and I’m interested in what the sculpture looks like in an image as much as how it’s experienced in person. My work exists in both virtual and physical worlds; I’m constantly investigating the conversation that happens between these two spaces.”
On his experience creating new work at Franconia, Chris shared the benefits of being in residency at Franconia; “I’m always ready to take on projects that I’m not comfortable with and extend past what I’m able to do. Being able to adapt is something I find great value in. It was great being in a place that gave me the time and space to do those things, and the support to problem solve, figure things out, and then show the work afterwards.”
Open Studio Fellowship Artist, Risa Puno, Infinite Play
Risa shared background about her work and her experience creating work at Franconia:
“I make interactive sculptures and installations that put a playful twist on familiar pastimes and amusements. I like to think about the language of objects and spaces, and how the way we encounter them changes what we think and feel. By expressing my ideas through existing and recognizable formats, I hope to create a point of access that allows participants to tap into their own feelings of nostalgia, desire, competition, comfort, or even frustration.
The key to understanding my work is to physically engage with it — to use it, play it, touch it, and sometimes even smell or taste it. While I make every effort to craft objects that are beautiful and alluring, my main objective is to create evocative and memorable experiences for the people who use them. My art-making decisions are guided by functionality; I strive to build things that work seamlessly and feel good in your hands. I believe that if participants implicitly trust their interaction with an object, then they are more open to accepting new ideas and forming new experiences.
I wasn’t sure that my practice was mobile, but Franconia seemed like a great place. It already has that ‘studio-away-from-home’ structure in place, and the making and creation is built in to Franconia. Now that I know I can go away from my studio and make things, I want to apply to everywhere.”
Stay tuned for future blog posts featuring more newly installed sculptures. And be sure to attend the upcoming Art and Artists Celebration on September 20th, a day-long arts and cultural festival celebrating Franconia’s artists and new sculptures on exhibition. We’ll have art-making activities, live music, dance, theater, and hip family fun! The 2014 Art & Artists Celebration takes place in conjunction with a valley-wide arts and culture event, Take Me to the River. Make a weekend of it and take in the scenery and cultural activity of the scenic St. Croix River Valley. Take Me to the River is brought to you by ArtReach St. Croix.
Franconia’s Artist Fellowship Program is made possible through major support provided by the Jerome Foundation, Windgate Charitable Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support provided by the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and many generous individuals.