Happy New Year!
What an exciting time to share a final report on our internship project in Ireland. I say ‘our’ because it would not have been possible to live and work in Europe for three months without YOU. I will say it over and over again: thank you for your thoughtful donation, it truly means the whole world to me. This great video (Carly & I partnered up with a filmmaker from Ithaca to document the department) sums it all up: https://www.facebook.com/GalwayInternationalArtsFest/videos/10159083362910082/
Last I wrote, I was working on the Aran Islands with Artistic Director, Paul Fahy. As a quick recap: mid-May to mid-August, I volunteered 580 hours (100hrs over the required 480). My primary responsibility as the Volunteer Coordinator was to co-manage the Volunteer Department. In addition to my responsibilities recruiting, training and engaging a volunteer force of 600, I was lucky enough to take on additional special projects. CEO, John Crumlish asked me to collect data for reports and grants he worked on. I spent some weekends collecting statistics on smart cities and cultural hubs in Europe to contribute ideas on how to strategically grow Galway as the place for creative entrepreneurs to thrive. I also got to manage street theatre projects, that was the real “life changing experience”. The festival saw some of the highest numbers in the box office and sold out shows as well as a record breaking year for the volunteer department. After my farewell lunch the CEO handed me a Seamus Heaney book and said it was my official offer letter to come back. On that note, John and I will be on the phone next week to talk about a position on the team this year.
SO----I landed home in August to a rather challenging personal situation, which forced me to move. The silver lining is given time and space constraints I had to purge over a decades worth of hoarding trinkets and things that “I can make art out of”. Everything went to the curb except for a bookshelf, some clothes, photo albums, books, and my baking supplies (albeit moving into an efficiency apartment that has no stove). I felt re-born. I found a small efficiency, which works great for me because I am up and out early to bike to the lake to school and home late. I call it my NOLA tree house because it has floor to ceiling windows spanning the entire length of the place and is surrounded by 2-story-tall bamboo shoots.
During that time, I started a full-time load of classes and both part time jobs that I had worked previously. I work in the Music Dept. at the University and as an Art Consultant at a beautiful gallery on Royal Street in the Arts District. This past semester, I took Writing & Presentation for Arts Administrators, Public Art Policy, Theatre Management and a class focused directly on field work. This lead me to really cool projects including: working with the Arts Council and the Mayor’s Office to reform the mural permitting process which currently has the highest fee in the nation. I proposed to eliminate or reduce the $500 fee to remove the barrier to access for visual artists. More vibrant murals in NOLA means vibrant streets that feel safe, are more walkable and thus happier residents. I also wrote a ten pager on the nitty gritty details behind the life of a wall on St. Claude where the Harriet Tubman $20 mural currently lives. I interviewed all of the artists involved in the graffiti war.
Also, I was part of a small team that put on two of what I see as the most important visual art events of my professional life this past year, the retrospective of Raymond Douillet and the solo show of Steven Kenny. Both are neo-surrealist oil masters that have private and public collectors around the globe. It was an honour to curate their work and spend time with them, learning the behind-the-scenes-mind. They both embody the perfect combination of imagination and hyper-photo-real technique.
I also worked on a Prospect 4 site, a huge international arts show that takes place in NOLA every two years. This year I worked on the Goddess Project, a multi-media outdoor installation to honour the politics of femininity and the beauty of the swamp. Check out our process: https://www.revisitingthegoddess.com/making-of-the-goddess-project/
Lastly, as many of you know, I am now writing poetry almost every day. This new and profound love has lead me to discover the work of E.E. Cummings, Ted Hughes (Plath’s plague), Paula Meehan, Wallace Stevens and Lorca. I was also heavily influenced by the time spent in Ireland. There is a certain creativity in the air there, a magicalness that rebooted my enchantment of the world----something so beautiful about being surrounded by theatre, film, literature and a celebration of ideas! I have posted all 150 or so poems on my site at https://artinpublic.carbonmade.com/projects/6500736. Since returning home to New Orlean, I was invited to read my work (twice now) at the DogFish Literature Society, a nerve wracking first for me but now a monthly-must. With that, I have been working on compiling my top 30 or so works into an illustrated book. Details will unfold as I learn more about self-publishing.
The big realization is—after spending 23 years in a small up-state NY town with little to no access to the arts, today I find it the ultimate privilege to be enrolled at the university, reading, writing, indulging in poetry, art, theatre, film and organizing gallery exhibitions, helping with policy and public art projects and, my true love, documenting street art.
My heart still beats the fastest when I am directly working with street artists. I recently teamed up with world-renowned street artists Damien Mitchell, Nicole Salgar and Chuck Berrett to apply for a HUGE project in North Carolina to paint one of those big water tanks. During the past four months, I discovered that I want to be one of the writers, the person that documents the contemporary art movement of our time----street art. When I was in Ireland, I spent weekends interviewing and documenting the work of any Irish street artist I could get ahold of. Here is a blog I wrote on legendary Galway street artist: Finbar https://artinpublic.carbonmade.com/blog/6425591642585038861 and a collection of street art photos from around Ireland: https://artinpublic.carbonmade.com/projects/6499841#2
Starting next week, I embark on my very last semester of graduate school. I have weekly seminar meetings and plan to defend my thesis in April. I started my paper a couple of weeks ago and have dubbed “Thesis Thursdays” a whole day of sitting at a local cafe to work on what will end up being a 100 page document. Upon graduation, I am planning to live and work in New Orleans and take summers to work on exciting art projects that will feed my soul.
Although this is the final report on our HatchFund project, I continue to share my daily journey through grad school, life as an arts professional and poetess, please join me:
Thank you for reading this far and again for your help, from the very bottom of my heart!
With all the love and care in the world,