Leah Aegerter

On many days my arms are tired and my lower back craves a hard surface to stretch out on. The repetitive tasks I find myself performing in the studio infiltrate my dreams: I sand a block of wood or chip away at it with a chisel and mallet, but it remains the same as when I started. My subconscious is incapable of wilder imaginations and I’m frustrated at the pressure I put on myself to get complete an object to perfection. This happens far too often in my artistic practice, and sometimes the only happiness I extract from this monotony is in the finished product. 

I’ve had many of these days this month, but today is calm because I’m able to remind myself that stress and anxiety are temporary. I’ve been sanding resin all day and a coat of gray dust fills the weave of my jeans. Around 4pm I take off my respirator and know the imprint it leaves on my nose will stay put for the next hour. I walk into the quiet of a winter in Paonia and am overcome with a swell of gratitude. On the other end of 3rdstreet, past the train tracks, apple trees are bare and the sky stays overcast until sunset. As soon as the sun dips below the cloud cover, the winter scene fills with warmth, and this beauty eliminates any negativity that’s inside of me. I am grateful in this moment because I am reminded of how small I am, of how the world keeps churning even though I am so focused on making one single sculpture, and that humility gives me the power to keep churning on my own scale. I am whole because the seemingly mundane task of sanding that has consumed my day carries me one step closer to bringing my heart and my thought into fruition. 

My time at Elsewhere was a balance between peace and frustration with my studio practice, and myself, but I am grateful to have had the time to feel it all. Creating sculpture is one of the most intimate things I know, and it often takes me a long time to feel that my work belongs to the environment in which I am creating. It is a weird thing to go to sleep in a new house and make art in front of a curious community, but Elsewhere provided many of these essential moments that filled me with context both in my new surrounding and my greater place in the world.