As an introvert, it usually takes me awhile to acclimate and feel comfortable within a new community. Fortunately, I found connection and belonging at Elsewhere Studios immediately. My month-long residency was filled with thoughtful conversations, meaningful connections, a ton of learning opportunities, many peaches, and just the right amount of margaritas (thanks Linda!).
I was there during the Inspired Art at Work program, which concluded with a Symposium filled with educational talks and interactive conversations. I left buzzing and might still be processing some of the information I took in. I left the event feeling compelled to share what I learned, so I wrote this blog post sharing some of it. The general takeaway is that we have a responsibility to be kind to our earth and we can start with minor, everyday habitual changes.
To be honest, although I knew the Inspired program focused on socially engaged art and climate change, I didn’t think my time there would be so focused on learning about environmental issues. That said, I couldn’t be more grateful. I spend a lot of time in nature and want to be better to this earth and it was the perfect opportunity to learn how.
I have to thank fellow residents Anna Macleod and John Melvin for the bulk of my learnings. They’re both walking encyclopedias of environmental issues and art practices. They were generous in sharing their years of lessons and didn’t treat any of my questions as silly. They truly opened my eyes to some of society’s biggest issues and how we can each make a difference.
In terms of my own work and projects, I decided to record a mini-season for my podcast, The Process, focused on our relationship with the earth. I’m thinking about calling it ‘Sustainability is a Buzzword.’
I engaged and conversed with members of the greater Paonia and Elsewhere community about water, agriculture, consumption, land, ranching, creativity, and more. Each conversation had twists, turns, and surprises and each felt magical. Paonia is a special place filled with complex, fascinating, and welcoming people.
I also got to host my first solo workshop for The Process and loved it. I walked participants through a journaling exercise and joined in on it, followed by a group discussion. It seemed to get all of us out of our comfort zones in a positive way and get us thinking about our work with a new and different perspective. I hope to do more of these in the future!
Other highlights included touring a coal mine, which as someone else said, is something everyone who flips a light switch should do if given the opportunity. Visiting the Dark Canyon with Carolina, attending the Pickin in the Parks every Thursday, driving to Crested Butte, and a gin and cider tasting at Jack Rabbit Hill were also highlights.
To be completely candid, I typically feel an overwhelming sense of imposter syndrome when walking into experiences like an artist’s residency. I struggle to consider myself ‘a real artist.’ My background is in business and although I know I’m creative, because I’m not a visual artist, I don’t always feel like I belong. But Carolina, Karen, Deirdra (who was their AmeriCorps VISTA worker), Anna, and John embraced me and treated me as an equal. If I tried to downplay my own work, they wouldn’t have it. They accepted me and made me feel like I belonged, which is huge for me. I hope to be able to pass on that gift to others throughout my journeys.
I look forward to sharing the podcast episodes with everyone and hope to stay again! - Shannon