Kelly Ciesla

My time at Elsewhere Studios was a life changing experience. I am so blessed for the opportunity. I was a free-spirited hippie child living in New Jersey where I felt my creative energy stifled by the monotonous daily grind. Since my abstract art is a spiritual, psychological and emotional process, I couldn’t dedicate the energy needed to focus on my art. I fell victim to the comforts of home, career and day-to-day schedule and realized I didn’t resonate with how I was living my life. It was time for a clean slate. Elsewhere Studios was the beacon of light that I needed! Recognizing the need to invest myself full-time in my art, I picked up two extra part-time jobs and worked for three months saving up as much money as I could. I finally left my career of three and a half years, and my two part time jobs and came out to Elsewhere Studios to begin this new life adventure.

When I first arrived at Elsewhere Studios, I wasn’t sure what to expect being that it was my first artist residency. I felt welcomed and at home by the handcrafted wooden and rustic features (and the adorable cat Tomatoes!). The environment was full of creative energy; vanishing my fears of wasting time and lacking inspiration. Though the winters in Paonia are known to be quiet, I found it was impossible to be bored. When I wasn’t dedicating my time to my oil and acrylic paintings, I found a variety of ways to explore the town. I enjoyed strolls out on the town, meeting friends within the community, hanging out at Breadworks drawing and enjoying a delicious mason jar of iced mocha. During the evenings, activities consisted of hanging out playing pool at Waldo’s and spending Saturday nights singing Karaoke at Louie’s. As a group, we took outdoor trips including: cross country skiing on grand mesa, a visit to the local hot springs, and natural parks around the area. The winters in Colorado may get crazy, but seeing the vast land and huge mountains covered in snow is absolutely stunning and humbling.

My time at the residency also taught me some new experiences. I learned how to cook, care for a cast iron skillet, and how much I enjoy taking meditative baths in a claw-foot tub. I also learned that Tomatoes is super cuddly, to the point where I felt guilty painting because I had to pay attention to him. It was also important to always hydrate; otherwise my body exhibited flu-like symptoms. I challenged myself to morph my work with nature by using different mediums and materials.

Elsewhere Studios provided the opportunity to meet amazing artists and friends and to reconnect with my creative spiritual freedom. This allowed my artistic rebirth, leading to my series ‘Awakening.’