After a successful and satisfying Oil&Wax Workshop at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, I’ve started settling in for my residency at AIR Serenbe, about an hour outside Atlanta. I am luxuriating in the idea of three weeks of painting, interrupted only by an anticipated day or two in Atlanta and a few community events, such as the talk I gave this morning in the studio for an interfaith group—there were lots of great questions and discussion.
First, a little about Serenbe, a 1,000 acre community located about 45 minutes to the south and west of Atlanta. From the description on the Serenbe website
Serenbe… is a national model for the future of balanced development in the U.S.—
focusing on land preservation, agriculture, energy efficiency, green building, walkability, high density building, arts and culture, and community living for multiple generations. With a projected 70% of future building occurring in the greenfield, Serenbe demonstrates how urban development models can succeed on the edge of a metropolis while preserving a vast majority of the greenspace. Serenbe’s ultimate goal is to demonstrate how development can accommodate the need for housing with minimal impact on nature…
There are quite a few articles online about Serenbe, including coverage by The NY Times
, and The Wall Street Journal
. Much of the press speaks about the ecologically conscious building practices and planning, and of the highly acclaimed restaurant fare-- Serenbe was founded by renowned restaurateurs, Steve and Marie Nygren, and excellent locally-grown food (the community includes a 25 acre organic farm) continues to be a highlight of the Serenbe scene.
Though I love a good organic meal, obviously Serenbe’s emphasis on arts and culture is the reason I'm here. AIR Serenbe (a program of The Serenbe Institute for Art, Culture and Environment) invites artists to the community for several weeks, and provides studio space, living arrangements and a stipend for food and travel. Artists are encouraged to spend their time exactly as they see fit—no expectation of a project or agenda, though this is a perfect setting for this kind of focus.
Although I’m sure that some of my work here will reflect my walks in the early spring woods and fields of Serenbe (there are miles of hiking trails) my main project while here is preparing for my August exhibit at the Pratt Museum of Art, Culture and Anthropology in Homer, Alaska. I’m going to save the description of that project for another post, when I have more of the work underway.
For now I can say that the opportunity to work uninterrupted by daily life is a gift I am savoring. AIR Serenbe is unlike other artist residencies I have done in that only one artist comes at a time, and in being here alone I may miss that element of shared creative energy. However, after speaking with the group this morning, I see that there are plenty of Serenbe residents who are engaged in visual art, writing and music and perhaps I will get to know some of them.
In the few days that I’ve been here, I’ve fallen into a pattern of painting, walking and relaxing in this peaceful and lovely setting. The focus on my work seems very pure, with few distractions, and I’m looking forward to a productive and refreshing stay. I am here until April 4th.