It’s Sunday night, at the end of my first week at Ucross; which is in a way the end of two weeks in that the week I spent driving here was very much an integralÂ part of the experience of the residency for me.
At one week in I’m having a funny time-dilation experience that often happens to me with dramatic shifts of contexts. At first, while walking around trying to learn all the new where-is-everything-and-how-does-it-work bits a day seems like a remarkable passage. At the end of Tuesday I had no concept of having only just arrived here the day before. It seemed impossible. But then, next thing I knew, it was Saturday and in meeting some artists from Jentel Residencies, down the road toward Sheriden, Â we exchanged “I just got here”s but then I realized, that no, actually I’d been here a week. How did that happen?!
So I’m grateful for a couple decisions I made. First having the opportunity to drive here really was great, and any time I’m doing a residency in the future, I’ll try to arrange for that option. I’m better with slower transitions in some ways, and I spent the drive here slowly shifting the ways I was thinking about the issues in my work. My work involves a relationship between the urban and the rural, so making a slow passage, alone, in and out of cities, farmlands, small towns, prairies, cities, mountains has helped me think about these issues more viscerally and in different contexts than I had before.
Secondly, I passed up an offer for a bike ride into the countryside with another resident on my first day. I wanted to set myself in a flow and pattern of working, and as much as I’d delight in daily rides and hikes and trips, I’m currently extremely pleased with the progress of my work so far. And I’m still getting excellent conversations, hikes, bike rides, and other connections in the evenings with my colleagues here—including a night out on the town in Buffalo at the Occidental Hotel and Saloon Bluegrass and Western Jam Session—but my days are focused on work in a way I had hoped they would be.
On my first day here, not sure how to proceed I followed my own rule for students: “Start from where you are,” Â or sometimes “Start with what you know.” Â So with everything around me completely new, I sat down with my sketchbook and sketched. The first sketch wasn’t particularly good, but that doesn’t matter. I started. Then I did a second, and added a journaling component to help sort the swirling thinking and to begin to gel some of the ideas from the drive. Then I promptly fell asleep in the sun.
On the second day the routine began. I started my morning by cutting some fresh chard from the garden and cooking it up with tomatoes previously picked, and some local eggs. Yum! Then down to studio where I did two paintings on my first day. The second day I did a third and the pace has continued. I’m sketching, journaling, and painting, not necessarily all three on any given day, but in ways such that I’ve begun to shift the way I’m approaching my painting in response to some of the sketching and journaling. Which is to say, that at least in the this first week, I feel like I’m very much getting out of this what I came here looking for (even if I was not entirely sure what I was looking for when I left home).
Tomorrow starts week two and I plan to spend it exploring this new approach I experimented with today. This will require a trip in to town for some new supplies, but I hope to be able to do that in a way that’s not too disruptive of my work flow. Already I feel like time is flying by and there’s so much more I want to do!