A Search for Gold Turned Into Finding Paper

A Search for Gold Turned Into Finding Paper

I went into Florence last Saturday to do some research and shopping. My host told me about the Orto Botanical which is a botanical garden. This place was interesting in that they labeled everything in the gardens so I was able to put a name to face on some of the plants I have been working with here.DSC_0079

For shopping, I wanted to bring some things back that I hadn’t brought back when I was younger… and couldn’t afford…   I did some research about gold before hand as my parents gave me some spending money for the trip and wanted to take a look and see if there was something I could afford. I read of a place called Oro Due “Firenze” that had decent prices and selections and it was near the bridge. But it ended up being too far for me since I stopped at a couple of places along the way, had lunch in San Macro Piazza and I ended up stopping by some stores along the way.

It started to pour while I was heading towards the other botanical garden my host recommended and decided to just hit the stores. I darted in and around the merchants trying to sell you umbrellas or ponchos (didn’t need one more thing to carry thank you very much and welcomed the cool rain) and darted into a store unknowingly that it was one I wanted to go to – Sigma … best known for the leather books and journals. I picked up and felt the journals available…. they were decent prices and some even discounted. When shopping I am cautious about the space in my luggage since I don’t have much left. Instead of a larger journal I had been fondling I took home a quill with the florentine fleur di lis on it in the turquoise color that is my home office color… and darted back out. On the way I had already stopped by Il Papiro a store of marbled paper made in Italy. I bought some clippings, a pencil holder and stickers with my initial on it.

DSC_0080On the way to Sigma, I passed a few gold shops and decided to poke my head in. A few were busy especially the ones that have been in existence for awhile. I spoke with a salesperson and he gave me some knowledge about buying gold in Italy. Unfortunately some of the styles that were available I didn’t particularly care for, as they didn’t look like you dropped 150 euros on it if you know what I mean… I appreciated the design but it was definitely a tourist trap as it had a reproduction of the florino (the coin of the florence empire) on it… a thin band for 150 euros!! No thanks. I found a design I liked in another shop, but it was a bit more than what I was willing to pay for and not to mention that rings have a higher potential to be lost…

Of Loss…

Of Loss…

I went on a walk today. Not too far away, just in the general area. One of the other artists here told me about an abandoned church that was not too far down the road. Having a vague interest in abandoned buildings I was intrigued. Since I didn’t have anything planned today, today was a good day to do some walking.

I ended up almost missing the church because the original path was overgrown with grass and pine needles and dirt. I started my way back up the road until I spotted a overgrown stone stair case and thought that was peculiar, but also thought it was kind of religious looking. I walked up the stairs and down a path that had grapes growing on either side of the pathway. I followed the pathway all the way up into a wooded area and a small towering church came into view. I had found it!

There was two stone benches attached to the church outside and I decided to take a break and cool off a bit. It was very peaceful as it sat back from the road a bit and you could barely hear the traffic that drove by. I got up and walked over to the front of the church. Unfortunately the doors were bolted shut so I couldn’t go in but I noticed some roses growing out of the masonry work of the church and snapped a few photos.

While I was sitting down, I thought about recently how people were leaving the Catholic faith in droves and here is an abandoned church. I thought about my own spirituality and concluded that they weren’t necessarily leaving religion altogether, but perhaps leaving organized religion and focusing on a more personal journey.

The above image was taken just before I walked down the pathway. My artwork is hugely centered around place/the environment as well as loss. At the beginning of this residency, I ran across an article from Orion Magazine by British author Robert MacFarlane and fell in love with the way he spoke about landscape. How his interest in landscape came from something called “landspeak”… describing one’s surroundings using singular words and sometimes phrases. He also mentioned the botanist, Oliver Rackham and wrote this passage about Rackham’s book, In the History of the Countryside.

“[…], the great botanist Oliver Rackham describes four ways in which “landscape is lost”: through the loss of beauty, the loss of freedom, the loss of wildlife and vegetation, and the loss of meaning. I admire the way that aesthetics, human experience, ecology, and semantics are given parity in his list. Of these losses the last is hardest to measure.”

It was interesting to me that this botanist saw that landscape is lost and he describes this loss through beauty, freedom, wildlife and vegetation and meaning. It made me think of my own healing journey from the loss of my job, a close friendship and relationship and more all in the span of two years. It was as if I was loosing myself and regenerating a new self from going through this pain and healing. I am certainly a different person than I was two years ago. I love the above image as it captures the sense of loss I think that MacFarlane was speaking about. Things change and move around and things get lost in the process. I have felt that this residency was the pinnacle of a turning point in my life. I had nothing but work and sleep for 6-9 months and I made enough money to take a month off and live in Italy to work on my artwork. I definitely sense change is coming and something new will come out of this loss. I had been thinking a lot about this close friendship whom I lost this past year and I definitely caught myself missing him.

Florenza with Love

Florenza with Love

film2

Monday and Tuesday of this week I worked with the film crew in Florenza. Tuesday I made an appearance in the movie… Monday I worked behind the scenes and most of my free time earlier this week was taken up by them. It was awesome working on a movie in a different culture and the story is interesting as well. Click the above image to see more photos on the K Glyphics facebook page.

Camera Oscura

I open the double glass doors to a building that was built in the 900s AD that now housed an artist studio. The interior was decorated with low oblong brick arches and cobble stone floors. The camera oscura was situated just across the double glass doors and darkened with two very thick red velvet curtains. The feeling you got in this space was as if you were a 15th century alchemist studying notes from their book in the dim light. The camera oscura was lined with shelving to the ceiling full of esoteric and miscellaneous photographic equipment left by it’s previous users. To my left a shelf was stocked with brown chemical bottles and miscellaneous equipment to mix photographic chemicals. To my right was a wood board that was created as a makeshift table to do your developing in. To the far right of that was an enlarger for photographic prints. The table space was just enough for my device as well as the photo chemicals trays. I almost felt like a time traveler –  bringing a device and a photographic process that was relatively futuristic into a space that was there since the 900s AD.

Landspeak

Landspeak
 Landspeak
Art by James Wardell
Art by James Wardell

The following article was one that came up recently on my facebook feed via Orion Magazine. It’s posting couldn’t be timelier with my residency in Greve. I have taken a lot of inspiration so far, so much so it’s taking me a couple of days to get through this article! I have never run across an article so inspiring before.

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Beltane/First Day of Greve

Beltane/First Day of Greve

Happy Beltane!

Finally I am able to blog! Things have been crazy with traveling and work in between. But I traveled through London and arrived in Italy OK. Everything in Italy is a lot more organized than I anticipated it to be – which is reassuring.

Tomorrow, I will be doing my first exposures in the studio here and to test out the device. I’ve found some really awesome flowers today on my first walk around the property.

The other Americana artist here is really nice. He’s acting in a film and asked to film my process which I think would be really cool.

I haven’t worked in the studio yet, I had some graphic design work to do today and intend on doing some exposures tomorrow hopefully. I’ve been working on my artist journal and finding inspirations.

Yesterday, was a really crazy day. I woke up at 4:45 am and left for the airport in London to fly to Florence. I met up with my driver/caretaker who drove me to Greve. This area is absolutely amazing and I’m excited to be here and make art. I definitely feel at home here. :) I unpacked, went into Greve to pick up food and came back, got dressed and went into Florence for an art opening of one of the caretaker’s friends. Came back, had a bottle of wine and worked on some more graphic design stuff and skyped quickly with my client whose based in Dubai then went to bed around 2:30 am.

Bon Voyage!

Bon Voyage!

On Sunday evening, I will be leaving America to head to my first stop! London! I am so excited that this is finally happening! God bless the universe for being kind to me in terms of money, after working hard these past 6-9 months on my graphic design work, I’ve made enough to be able to attend this residency. And I definitely need a break! My last “vacation” was in September when I went to Canada for the week and I got sick… so it wasn’t really a vacation lol. Then I will be heading to Greve in Chianti for the month of May and Paris the first week of June to celebrate my parents’ anniversary.

I’m excited to be creating more artwork. The last time I created work was around this time last year when I was still in Longmeadow.

Arnie! (now Arnedette)

photo by Alexis Williams
photo by Alexis Williams

Last Fall during my Biophilia residency in Wakefield, QC/Ottawa, CA I found an Imperial Moth on the ground during the last day of the residency. Apparently these are pretty uncommon so it was cool to see such a creature. 8 months later, just before I go on my next residency this wonderful creature turned into this gigantic moth! She is happily laying eggs. Perfect symbol for my life as well, as it too has been going under metamorphosis and is about to take flight.

photo by Alexis Williams
photo by Alexis Williams

Biophilia – Activities – Monday

Biophilia – Activities – Monday

Monday

1208325_707689345983817_1022789875_nThe following day we had our first hike. Before this hike we drove to a chairlift in the same park and got a look at the foliage. This was the first time of that I got lost! The group van had to be taken into Ottawa to be fixed so we couldn’t drive as a group. We were already running a bit late so we didn’t get to meetup with the arborist, which was a bit of a bummer, but we used the time during the hike to find plant material for the kirlian workshop that night!

Yes that’s right! I was able to do a kirlian workshop with the group. It was really fun to do because everyone was excited to do the workshop and was very enthusiastic about finding plant matter. I also was able to work with plants that I wouldn’t have otherwise had a chance to back home.

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Moss

This day was very long and tiring at 1am I was very glad to be asleep!

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Biophilia – Activities – Sunday

Biophilia – Activities – Sunday

There was an abundant of activities throughout the week that made every day an adventure. It wasn’t too much but everything did run a bit longer than expected which made it hard for everything to be done that day also made for very long days. I had been suffering from a low period of energy and was really nervous that I wouldn’t have the energy to do the hikes scheduled. But I think a lot of the low energy had to be from my grief from Minuteman and that this trip was exactly what I needed to be able to bring myself to back to an OK state. As I said on the last night, it was really healing to be welcomed into such an open and welcoming group after being kicked out from a place where your heart was still very much there…

Sunday

Our week started off in the National Gallery cafe and having lunch with the group. We introduced ourselves and got a bit of an orientation of the week. Afterwards, we drove to the hostel where the rest of the group stayed – I stayed with a host from airbnb because being a psychic and medium and the hostel claiming to be haunted I wouldn’t have gotten much sleep! After picking up everyone’s gear we drove to the ranch.

Once we got there we had a chance to explore the property and take photos and find things for our artworks. We then had our artist talks and dinner in Wakefield at Cafe Chez Eric. We ended up staying at the restaurant a bit longer because we had a flat tire! We had a really interesting discussion that night about 3D printing and I got some interesting inspiration for my photography that maybe I could do one of these days.

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Biophilia – Getting there and Arrival

Biophilia – Getting there and Arrival

It was about a 9.5 hour drive in total, probably the most I have ever driven alone. It seemed a straightforward trip and after driving an hour and a half for work when I worked out in Western MA back and forth, I felt like I was prepared. I had also been driving all over the region for the past two years doing art drop offs and receptions so driving that much shouldn’t be a problem.

WELL, it wasn’t that bad of a drive up north as the GPS took me through upstate New York during peak foliage season. The drive itself was amazing, peaceful and almost healing. It took me back to driving around Big Sur in California. It had that same dramatic effect. But I had a DRs appointment that morning at a very early hour and with pre-travel anxiety I had gotten little sleep the previous night. Lack of sleep makes for a very LONG drive and falling asleep at the wheel… I wouldn’t recommend it at all if can be avoided.

After driving 7.5 hours north I finally got to the Ontario border and went through the Border, it was pretty painless. But after driving a 140+ mile stretch I wasn’t too happy when my GPS told me I had about another 100 miles to go before reaching my destination. I was also very nervous about missing my arrival time with my host in Ottawa. It was very difficult for me to get a room for Friday/Saturday evenings since I was arriving late and I didn’t want to be left stranded somehow.

I did manage to get to my hosts’ house OK. I actually ended up arriving 30 minutes earlier than expected. My host, Clemence (from airbnb.com) was very gracious and did a wonderful job of welcoming me into her space. Her apartment was very nice and spacious and in a convenient location.

Saturday

I slept in on Saturday and then spent mid-late afternoon driving around Ottawa. I stopped by the Crystal Dawn Shop and bought an evil eye charm. Something told me that it would be very 10598246_377519615744484_145269713_nbeneficial to have on this trip!

From wiki,

“The evil eye is a curse believed to be cast by a malevolent glare, usually given to a person when they are unaware. Many cultures believe that receiving the evil eye will cause misfortune or injury.[1] Talismans created to protect against the evil eye are also frequently called “evil eyes”.[2][3]

I went to Byward Market and stopped by Peace Garden Cafe for a late lunch. The Peace Garden Cafe is a well known vegan restaurant in the area and it is very good! I don’t normally eat 10693472_589183677854027_905841335_nvegan, but I wanted to stop by a cafe that fit in with the new age/zen theme I was going for that day.

After an afternoon out in the city I came home and did some preparation in my art journal for my week and went to bed on the earlier side to get ready for my week ahead!

Sunday

I left Ottawa after having breakfast with Clemence who graciously bought me a small coffee and croissant! We went to a near by mall so I could by some postcards and we ate breakfast and ended up talking about our lives and plans for the future… I left to meet up with my group at 12pm at the National Gallery for lunch. I finally was able to relax a bit after meeting up with them and eating something more substantial. Then I followed the group to the hostel that most of everyone stayed at. I didn’t stay at the hostel because it claimed to have been haunted and being a medium in a haunted place I wouldn’t have gotten any sleep.

We then left to goDSC_0051 to Pine and Birch Ranch and once we got there we checked out the property and did our artist talks and had dinner.

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Biophilia – Ayatana Artist Researchers Group

Biophilia – Ayatana Artist Researchers Group

I recently went to Ottawa, CA and Wakefield, QC for an artist research group for the week. The residency was research based so we didn’t have to produce something.The research group is called Ayatana Artist Research Program.

From it’s website,

 “The Ayatana Artist Research Program is a Canadian, artist run, residency program dedicated to encouraging hands on research, adventure, experimentation and collaboration between visiting artists. Ayatana workshops focus on experience and encounters with the natural world. The residency facilitates field research and contact with scientists and experts in a diverse range of settings.”

I was really excited to have found a residency that spoke to artists who focus their work on science, art and spirituality. This community in the art world is very small, but exists. It’s hard to know what’s out there if you don’t go searching for it. For example, I recently applied for a conference in Bilbao, Spain to present my work in Kirlian Photography. It is a completely fully funded experience… but the conference is geared towards artists, technologists and bioartists!

To commemorate this residency, I will be doing a series much like my California Seventeen series.

I also took up the task of designing and completing the group’s publication for the week. It’s almost done, I just need to get everyone’s info for the book. So excited to debut it!

I was also assigned to do an Ottawa,CA feature on Jetsetter Gypsy through my internship and wrote about Pine and Birch Ranch where we stayed. This should be posted soon.

The next post in this series will list the table of contents.

Hello world.