It is fantastic to be connected to the arts community here in Petrozavodsk. If it wasn’t for doing the art residency here, I believe that I would have a different impression of the city. Not knowing the national language is a handicap and if you don’t have anyone to explain things then you are left with your own thoughts and musings about what something means, why people are doing a certain activity, and so on. We have been given the royal treatment here by the people at the Media Centre and by the Ministry of Culture. The other day Varvara picked us up and drove us to the other side of town to visit the Graphic Studio. The Graphic Studio was originally created by the Media Centre but has since evolved into an independent, solid group of about 10 dedicated and hardworking print-making artists. These artists come to the studio and create art when they are not at their day jobs. We had the pleasure of meeting one of the artists that works there, Igor. He is an art teacher at the local University and is very skilled with the printing press. He showed us around the small studio (the artists take turns using the space at different times) and gave us fantastic demonstrations in both linocut and drypoint. The building that the graphic studio is inside is a large, two story building. It looks very unassuming on the outside and you would never know there was a vibrant art-making space inside. Once again, I am thankful for having connections here that open my eyes to what actually happening inside buildings that I would otherwise walk past and not pay much attention to.
As far as my own art making is concerned, it has been a bit of a rough start. I suppose it is often like this when you create a project idea in your mind and then don’t work on it until 6 months later in a place that is entirely new. Since the exhibition opened I have switched gears and have been thinking about my residency project. This project feels very different from what I usually work on because it is not about whales. My idea for this residency is to use the shapes of bodies of water from Karelia (the province that we are staying in) to be my outer parameter for drawings of patters that I feel as inspired by this place. I have been out taking pictures and trying to find patterns and collect ideas, but I found that I was hitting a bit of a creative block. It wasn’t until yesterday that I realized that nothing seemed to work until I stopped looking at the man-made and started focusing on nature. And the funny thing is that now that I am working on these drawings, they feel very familiar to my counting whale drawings and my baitball drawings. I guess that is partly why it feels right, because it is a progression.
While I am on the topic of nature, I must let you know that we are here at a very interesting time. When we arrived 10 days ago it was winter. Everything was brown, the lake was frozen and it was very cold. But the weather changed on Saturday and now it is spring! Hundreds of people are out racking up the debris of the winder and cleaning up garbage, the trees are all buddings and have leaves and the grass is vibrant and soft. It is amazing to see the change of seasons again. And, as someone that loves nature, fills me with inspiration to draw!