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Nina Earley Residency 1 Summary July 17th, 2012 MFA Art Institute of Boston My first residency ended two

weeks ago and during these two weeks I have been making lists upon lists of words to try to make sense of all the information that is jumbled up in my head and notebook. It isnt that Im not used to conflicting opinions, I have often found myself being pulled in different directions with equal force, and yet I am having a hard time finding the thread that ties these thoughts together in this mess of lists. I started the residency apprehensive of what was going to be thrown at me. I often have confidence issues and tend to take things much more personally than I should, I was afraid of being crushed. Meeting my fellow group 1 students calmed my nerves a bit; I realized that I was surrounded by an incredibly talented group of artists who were just as apprehensive as I was. If they felt like they didnt know what they were doing it must be normal, I thought. Meeting the other members of my critique group was a little more intimidating, they did know what they were doing, and yet they were very helpful and welcoming. One piece of advice I got on the first day as we were hanging our work was to keep moving pieces around throughout the week so that the work can be looked at from different angles. I didnt move anything until the second to last day of the residency and I probably should have done it sooner. Looking at the pieces in a different arrangement allowed for clarification on some thoughts that had arisen earlier in the week. This has proven to be important in trying to make sense of all of this information. My first group critique was with Jan Avgikos and I wished I hadnt read her biography before we started. Surprisingly, she, and every other faculty member I met with that week, gave feedback that was much more positively constructive than I had been expecting. I felt relief after that first critique. Jan was the first who told me she though the lifts that are cloud images are actually of nothing. This sentiment was repeated many times during the residency and it is something I understand, but hadnt considered before. To me the images were always representational cloud photographs. This feedback started opening up the possibilities for directions of future work. Along with that, a fellow student responded mostly to two of the color cloud images, not necessarily as clouds

(again), but as abstractions in color. This is a direction I am definitely interested in exploring further. The second group critique was with Judith Barry, and since she is the director of the program this was equally nerve wrecking. Though her feedback was diametrically opposed to what I had heard from Jan the day before, it was just as positively constructive. Instead of exploring abstraction in my work she told me to think about more representational images, possibly creating models and photographing them. While I had been interested in abstraction for some time, making models isnt something that was on my radar at all. Looking at some of the artists she had mentioned, however, helped me realize how exciting this could be. Another avenue she suggested was projection. My original images are very small and I hadnt seen them large until the 5-minute introduction I had to give on the first day. The feedback I got based on the large projections was positive and I am interested in the possibilities of this. I hadnt really considered projection as an option before, because projected images to me seem so fleeting that they may not be real. I am starting to think, however, that this could be a good direction for my work. I had spoken about the luminosity I am trying to achieve in my work and this would be one way to make that happen. Around the 4th and 5th day of the residency themes started becoming apparent and a lot of the information I was learning started connecting. The elective seminar I took was Visual Books, taught by Deborah Davidson. I also had an individual critique with her, which was very helpful in connecting some of these thoughts and ideas. The visual books seminar was the perfect choice for me for this first residency because by Monday and Tuesday I was starting to feel full of information, as though I wouldnt be able to remember anything more. Having a hands-on class helped give my brain a break from taking things in and gave me a few hours to begin processing information. During the first book class we looked at different book artists, many of whom work sculpturally. Still thinking about Judiths comment on building models this gave me some ideas for potential projects this semester. I have always loved books and stories play an important part in my life, maybe there is some way to connect this to the artwork I am creating. I was told by several older students not to try processing any information until after the residency, but as thoughts connected ideas sprung up. I just made sure to write everything down.

I also had individual critiques with Ben Sloat, my advisor, Oliver Wasow, and Tony Apesos. Unlike everyone else, Ben thought I should stick with the cloud images, but explore them further and do more research. We had an interesting discussion about our similar backgrounds and what I should think about to start putting more of myself into my work. We talked about foreignness and how my feelings as an invisible foreigner could play into my work more. Oliver responded more to the three portrait images that few other people had feedback about during the other critiques. I was very interested in his and Bens opinions, because they are photographers who are very grounded in the digital world, whereas my work is not. Both of them gave me more artist names to research and books to read which will help inform the work I create over the next semester. The critique with Tony was on the last day, and I was curious about it because he is a painter, and therefore comes from a completely different point of view than the other faculty I had met with. He is the only faculty member who responded positively to the feeling of nostalgia in my work. Before I met with him the general consensus was that I needed to figure out a way to make my work modern. Tony thought that simply by creating my work now it is modern. This was very interesting to me, because I am incredibly drawn to the nostalgic and old materials I am using, while I am at the same time intrigued by new options such as projection and color images.

The four visiting artist talks were very interesting, though almost more informative were the reactions and discussions that were spurred from these talks. I have always had a difficult time with performance art, I havent been able to connect with it, and therefore I havent understood its purpose. The Joan Jonas talk helped clarify one of the reasons why I have such a hard time with performance art. As a viewer, I process information on my own time and I dont like being pushed into time constraints (I prefer to visit museums on my own). Performance art pushes a time frame on me and I am not allowed to process the information in a way I would like to. I think for this reason I am much more interested in Joan Jonass installation art, there shes giving me the pieces and I get to put them together in my own way. As an artist I do understand the benefit of controlling the viewers time. This is something I will continue to think about, especially as I consider making installation art with projections. Peter Rostovskis talk was the most informative in that he was speaking most like a teacher to a group of students. I learned more about him and his work from that talk than I did from the other visiting artists. This may have been because he naturally is a better teacher, or because he was able to spend time with us throughout the entire

residency, instead of just visiting to speak. He has a series of paintings in fog, which he spoke about, and those resonated the most with me. The fog creates a barrier that shields the viewer from the subject. This is one of the things I am trying to create with my encaustic layers, removing the image from the direct gaze of the viewer and thereby drawing him or her in more. Throughout this residency and in the weeks since then I have been feeling incredibly open and sponge-like, just soaking up everything I can, but at some point all that information needs to translate into a game plan. In processing all this conflicting feedback and information a few themes have become apparent, and some of the opinions do overlap. Sorting through lists of words the ones that jump out at me the most are home, nostalgia, and memory. Going into this program I thought I wanted to approach the invisible foreignness that I feel from a standpoint of universality, looking at subject matter that almost any viewer can connect with. I now realize that this isnt possible, and that I should maybe focus more on putting myself into my work. I am hoping to start this by researching the topics of otherness, cultural differences and the dilemma/love-hate relationship with America. To me these topics very much connect with the three words I pulled out of my lists created during the residency. During this semester I plan to explore a few different projects and I am hoping some will lead me closer to finding answers. Basic ideas for these projects are: -Abstraction and color: clouds, fuji emulsion lifts, more layers, maybe glass as background, possibly still encaustic or resin, suspension, light, texture -Digital projection or prints: scanned negatives, large format color film or reclaimed fuji instant negatives, layers, abstraction, composite images -Models: creating a space to photograph, possibly with books and other found materials that have relevance, maybe include lifts or other photographs -Paint: what if I dont photograph, experiment with paint and maybe collage to create images with many layers and texture, possibly abstracted clouds or stones, different approach entirely

While I dont want to overwhelm myself in the beginning and start too much, I think I need to experiment with different approaches to figure out what will work. I may

not finish all of these projects this semester, but I want to try different things to see what I respond to the most and what results in the most successful work. Artists I plan to look at: Liz Deschenes Eileen Quinlan Gerhard Richter Rineke Dijkstra Vik Muniz Sonia Delaunay Sally Mann James Casebere Jeff Wall Sarah Charlesworth Books and Articles I plan to read: Geoffrey Batchen: Each Wild Idea and Burning with Desire Walter Benjamin: The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction William Mitchell: Intention and Artifice Carol Armstrong: Cupids Pencil of Light Vitamin Ph