Monday, August 3, 2015

The Importance of a Sabbatical

It’s been an interesting month. At the end of June I was a co-presenter at the AESS (Association of Environmental Science and Studies) conference at the University of California, San Diego. Our presentation aimed to instill the value of biophilic art and design as a way to bridge the boundary between nature and the built environment. This practice connects people to nature and improves human and ecological wellness. Participants were engaged and the feedback has been great. 

Preparing iron oxide pigment pots in the Connecticut studio prior to trip.

Richard Piacentini (Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh)  speaking about The Center for Sustainable Landscapes Project and meeting the Living Building Challenge. 

Sonja Bochart (Biophilic by Design, Phoenix) leading participants in guided meditation. Sonja presented her Phipps CSL Beta Project showcasing the work of 20 selected artists addressing the core themes of biophilic design.

Judith Kruger (Judith Kruger Studio, Connecticut) leading educators in a mini natural pigment-making-painting workshop. 

Having the opportunity to sit in on several other conference presentations, enjoy an ecosystem tour of Southern CA led by educator/author Mark Hineline (The Backyard Naturalist: Observing Climate Change through the Seasons to be published by University of Chicago Press, 2016)spend time with some fellow artists and students, work with a few consulting clients, visit museums and galleries in La Jolla, San Diego and LA (most notably Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui at MCASD and Mark Bradford: Scorched Earth at the Hammer), sneak in a quick visit to Hiromi paper store, visit some close friends and eat healthy food collectively added up to an awesome time.

El Anatsui at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego

Mark Bradford at the Hammer Museum, LA

Shadows at the Getty on the last day........thinking about my paintings waiting at home in the studio

The best part of a sabbatical away from the studio is actually the act of re-entering with fresh eyes, abundant inspiration and calm energy. It's always so easy for me to advise others about the directions of their artwork, but often difficult to unfamiliarize myself from my own work enough to make easy decisions. Not only does the work look fresh and really great, it also tells me exactly what needs to be done to finish. This is such a clue that being away from the studio is often more important and productive than the time in the studio. Additionally, like the photo of the Shadows at the Getty here, it's what is not present, the white void, which often elicits the deepest response. 

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