Sometimes I surprise myself by finding a bit of courage (or maybe more accurately it's denial) somewhere within me.
It would be fair to say that upon picking up my rental car at the Halifax Airport I was in a pretty serious state of panic. My best friend Alyssa can attest to the fear and uncertainty I was feeling when leaving her house that day. I was to start a new adventure but truthfully, I wanted to still be in the Yukon. The drive was lonely but I had the continuous company of satellite radio to help me arrive in Portland unscathed.
The MFA program at the Maine College of Art is a Medium Residency program which requires 8 weeks on campus in Portland, Maine. The program is intense to say the least and I spent a considerable about of time in a pretty deep state of being doubtfully lost. Advisors and peers reassured me that you have to be lost to be found but regardless, being lost is a struggle.
The program wasted no time in asking very deep rooted questions of us and our work and I realized pretty quickly the things I needed to improve upon.
It was a challenge but I turned to my studio work and peers to provide me with any bit of certainly I could muster. I started to more seriously develop the work, currently untitled, about the Macara-Barnstead Building in Halifax as this was the last place I left off prior to leaving for Dawson. It was difficult to be in the mental space at the time to transport myself to a place that I wasn't currently existing within. I realized that I was experiencing the city of Portland, Maine in a very unusual way and that I wasn't allowing myself the time to literally explore the space I was inhabiting which is very unlike how I typically become familiar with a new location. I hadn't gone for a long long walk. I hadn't sat in a park to sketch the architecture nor had I photographed bits of the city.
So with that, my next step seemed obvious. It was time to go for a walk. This came at a time when I was getting more and more infatuated with the work of Francis Alys and his walks through urban spaces. I couldn't help but think about the way my body was traveling through the urban space and the openness for thought that it left for me during this intense period of doubt.
Since this time i have started reading Wanderlust: The History of Walking written by Rebecca Solnit. She argues that walking is a shared common experience and that there is a strong correlation between the body moving through space and the less charted travels of the mind. Her book states that when walking the mind moves at 3 miles per hour, a much slower state of existence than we are typically exposed to, thus allowing for a more thorough observation.
My experiences in Dawson and Portland have made it clear that walking has always been an important part of my artistic process and how I navigate and respond to the urban or rural environment that I find myself in. Walking provides me with a direct interaction to sites and gives me time to truly see the spaces I inhabit.
From my walks in Portland I created a series of image transfers based upon buildings with which I have no particular familiarity to. I don't know the occupants, nor do I know the history of these properties. These image transfers on vellum simply allowed me to explore my thoughts in a way that my large scale installations work does not. They are immediate, take less planning and allow me to compose. They are dark, layered and a bit uncanny.
By the end of the summer, with a fully saturated brain and notebooks full of artists and readings to investigate, I left as I arrived; with a rental car full of supplies, a few tears in my eyes and my faithful radio. Once again in transit.