Residency Participants II

"Hurt" Residency and Exhibition with Michael David at M. David and Co. March, 2019

Notes on the theme by Michael David are below along with an Essay by Paul D’Agostino. Additonally, you'll find writings by several participants and images. This residency included trips to Art on Paper, the Armory Show, the New Museum and a studio visit to Kathryn Bradford's studio.

Hurt Residency.jpg

Stephanie Hargrave

Stephanie Hargrave - an essay about her work and experience can be found below

Stephanie Hargrave - an essay about her work and experience can be found below

Stephanie Hargrave

Stephanie Hargrave

Stephanie Hargrave

Stephanie Hargrave


Louise Noël

Louise Noël

Louise Noël

Louise Noël

Louise Noël

Louise Noël

Louise Noël

Crossing into Nowhere: Parenting an Idea

Crossing into Nowhere was not meant to be—something else had been. Participating in the “Hurt” residency with Michael David in Brooklyn, New York, with those seven other artists, was an experience in living and creating. I needed to be open to the unpredictable and the unexpected; to be able to tolerate the feeling that nothing was happening, when, in fact, so much was; to be very present in the here and now; to accept incertitude and imperfection; and to respect intuition and materials.

For me, the room in which we worked was an elastic, puzzling, tentative space. The time we had together was filled with unease, dissatisfaction, discomfort, fear, frustration, anger—but also hope; and dark blue skies and wind; and people, wine, and laughter… Anything could take place, from the absurd to the poignant. Often, I found myself walking around with a sensation of drifting.

And then suddenly it unfolded. I will always remember holding the unravelling bolt of silk: I had an intention, but the fabric behaved only as it should, offering new possibilities. In this moment, I saw it; I was able to listen to it, to let it be. Unexpectedly, I found myself with 12-foot-high flowing black mark, a being screaming to survive. Gradually, with much trial and error, this assemblage of materials, ideas, emotions—this mix of darkness and fluidity, presence and intensity, solidity and airiness said to me, “This is it. I am here. I am now. I am.”

And it was done. The time after was as strange as the time before, but in a different way: My hands were empty; I had no more to do. I was capable of nothing else in that moment. And once again I found myself walking around with that sensation of drifting.

More and more, I see that to be an artist is to be an implement, forging, steeling oneself, ready to give life to an idea, and not necessarily the one most evident.

It’s being able to birth this idea, with both discipline and empathy, to then nurture it, and to finally let it go.

It’s being a dreamer, a “time waster” and an actor, a builder.

It’s being both sad and happy, fearful and strong, hurting and growing, standing alone and coming together—always.

Participating in this residency, working with Michael David, being witness to the travails and successes of the other artists has been a privilege and an invaluable experience. Michael David has the knowledge, skills, respect, and empathy to offer a secure and stimulating space where an artist can grow and mature. With him, I have become better able to reflect upon my work and to understand where I am coming from, where I am, and where I am going.

Louise Noël

Montreal, Quebec, Canada


Christopher Rico

Christopher Rico - an essay about his work and experience can be found below

Christopher Rico - an essay about his work and experience can be found below

Christopher Rico

Christopher Rico

Christopher Rico - photo credit: Denise Sfraga

Christopher Rico - photo credit: Denise Sfraga


Francesca Schwartz

Francesca Schwartz

Francesca Schwartz

Francesca Schwartz

Francesca Schwartz

Francesca Schwartz

Francesca Schwartz

The Space Between

 The body as location, as both subject and object, and the ways in which memory and trauma have their way with us is my endless fascination. Memories and trauma register in the body, forming an uncanny presence that awaits articulation. I return again and again to the body as self, as home. We inhabit this place that is an exquisite corpse. In this meditation on the body and its interior and the world in which we are located, I encounter the space between longing and loss, memory and its erasure, permanence and dissipation. Memory is a resurrection, a retrieval, a lullaby.

City of Women

City of Women is an encounter with the confusion about what happens to a woman’s body over her lifetime. The female body is a mystery as is her psyche. A woman is defined by her seasonality and whether she will be able to move forward as her body and life change.

The body is inscribed with history; the body is a story-teller. A woman travels internally, but also in tandem with other women and their cycles and rhythms. A woman’s body carries the markings of her travels, knowing that her path is recognizably female.

 A woman’s body is a meditation.


Jean Pederson

Jean Pederson

Jean Pederson

Jean Pederson

Jean Pederson

Jean Pederson

Jean Pederson


Pilar Uribe

Pilar Uribe

Pilar Uribe

Pilar Uribe

Pilar Uribe

Pilar Uribe

Pilar Uribe


Deborah Kapoor

Deborah Kapoor   - an essay about her work and experience can be found below

Deborah Kapoor - an essay about her work and experience can be found below

Len Bellinger and Deborah Kapoor - photo credit: Denise Sfraga

Len Bellinger and Deborah Kapoor - photo credit: Denise Sfraga

Deborah Kapoor - photo credit: Denise Sfraga

Deborah Kapoor - photo credit: Denise Sfraga

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Theme

Each Residency has a theme developed over the time Michael works with the participants to find a common thread. This Residency Theme is “Hurt”. Writings on the theme by Michael David:

The residencies, I believe, which have been the most successful, were based on conversations I had with each participant first, finding common threads, passing it through my own passion, then creating a loose architecture a structure and theme for each participant to interpret and to run with. I then shared everyone’s emails in the hope each participant would share their thoughts with each other before the residency. One of the aspects of the magic of this program is the support and collaboration between the artists involved.

We come to a project prepared for one thing and often times it can change in a moment from seeing our reflection in each other.

The themes for the last two residencies were the Exquisite Corps and Folded.... this one is called Hurt.

One of the great benefits of my recovering from my broken leg this December was spending three weeks and having the blessing of having my son to care for me and live with me. We talked in ways we never had before and I got to see what a beautiful man he had grown into. I listened to his music, talked about life, his and mine. He would play Cardi B, Lorde among many other artists I was not familiar with (which I came to really enjoy) for me and I would play Bowie for him. Along the way I played the live version of Hurt by Nine Inch Nails and Bowie. He asked me if I knew the Johnny Cash version, I said I did but never really paid attention to it. Then I watched the video of it and my mind was blown and my heart made full.

It's a perfect interpretation of the Trent Reznor song by Johnny Cash and perhaps the most beautiful music video ever made.

Cash was soon to die and the producer (known best for being Co-Owner of Def Jam Records and one of the masterminds of the commercial success of Hip Hop and seemingly strange bed fellows) Rick Rubin took Cash into the studio to record this song - about redemption - regret and some attempt at absolution.

I often talk about the importance of subject and object- how the narrative you are telling is made stronger, if the process - the materiality of how you tell that narrative is actualized through that process and are one and the same. This crucial relationship is evidence of the artist’s deeply secular spiritual commitment, struggle and practice over their lives to speak their truth. It is my firm belief this commitment is the basis of all great work- the evidence of the passion, the conviction, the bravery and the uncompromising struggle to share who we are with each other.

So in this case we have Cash dying, singing a song that could have been written by him or for him (it is better that he didn't write it or it wasn't written for him, because the deepest truths are universal) the subject and the object are so painfully and beautifully aligned - decades of a life of remorse, regret, infidelity, his underlying struggle with faith and Christianity, heroine abuse and a desire for redemption all made perfect in the closing shot - of his hands closing the piano lid- a moment of perfection, of high art. The fragility in Cash's voice, his age, his health, his life lived are the perfect union of subject and object - if truth is beauty and beauty is truth - this is beauty of the highest level and why I preach the importance of your own relationship to your "material " - the power of subject and object.

So my challenge to for this workshop and anyone who might come across this letter is to pick a work of another artist as Rubin picked Reznor's song for Cash- it could be painting, sculpture, literature, film, music, that already relates deeply to the essence of who you are, and create of work in your own voice based on that.

I challenge you to dig deep, take risks, dare to be great, dare to be to be your most honest and profound self.

Simple as that - complex as that

Here's the link to the video https://youtu.be/vt1Pwfnh5pc


Hurting to Healing

Genesis and Content of M. David Residency Exhibition "Hurt"

by Paul D'Agostino

Themes for art exhibitions or collaborative forms of research, reflection, critique and storytelling can come very unexpected places, or even quite nearly from out of nowhere. Such was the case, more or less, with the conversational prompts and thematic ethos for "Hurt," the forthcoming edition of the M. David Residency and Exhibition Program. This March 2019 iteration will feature a mix of U.S. and Canadian artists, including Jean Pederson, Christopher Rico, Stephanie Hargrave, Louise Noël, Deborah Kapoor, Francesca Schwartz and Pilar Uribe.

Pent up at home for several months with rather severe physical injuries, gallery and residency director Michael David, a man who isn't really known for taking it easy or slowing down, was basically forced to take it easy and slow down. As the unavoidable reality of that set in, he realized he had probably had such an obligatory slowdown coming for a while, and that it was finally time to commit to taking advice and following orders from doctors. Anyone who knows David at all might already begin to marvel at precisely that.

What David hadn't quite foreseen, even with his now more hindsight-mindful point of view, was that this same sequence of events, this same scenario of healing and recovery, would lead to a relative turnaround of not only lifestyle and regard for personal well-being, but also of personal and collective sentiment. It led to him spending a great deal of uninterrupted time in the immediate company and care of family and friends, a kind of lingering and casual, in certain ways gentle passing of time that it seems so many of us rarely enjoy, or even know how to enjoy, these days.

Not unplugged time. Not off the grid. We are still talking about Michael David, after all. And what we're talking about is simply an extended time of warmth and nurturing, sentiments and acts that are often mutually reciprocating. This period entailed a steady process of spiritual and emotional revisitation, renewal and, in a way, upheaval for David and his loved ones alike. Then, at some point it led Lex Singer, David's son and dearest pal, to show him the music video for Johnny Cash's cover of a very particular Nine Inch Nails song, "Hurt." Somehow David had no idea that Cash's cover of the song existed. If you're aware of David's enthusiasm for and broad knowledge of music history, this seems utterly incredible. If you're aware enough of the song to know how the inherent hurt of the original version becomes amplified into the more profound hurt resounding throughout Cash's gutturally repackaged rendition, then you know it is utterly moving.

That revelation led David to do what you might expect from him: send out a flurry of excited emails and text messages to people about having his mind blown, doing a social media post or two, and so on. Never off the grid, Mr. David, as you likely know. And always exuberantly inspired by creative discoveries.

Some of those excited emails went out to the incoming group of residency artists several months ago. Soon afterwards, all manner of associations and personal narratives poured forth in their responses. And that's how "Hurt" — as a song, a cover, a video, a tangible feeling, a metaphor, an abstraction — became the conceptual underpinning and title for the seven artists' period of residency, an intense week or so of work and critique during which this theme will be treated in various ways and in a full range of media. Some of the yields from the artists' efforts building up to and during that week will then furnish the artworks in yet another "Hurt," this time a residency-concluding exhibition.

Creatives of most stripes would tend to agree that their practices serve, at least sometimes, as useful ways to productively channel emotional or spiritual struggles, or maybe even physical pain or discomfort in some way. By no means do such processes always yield results full of sadness and despair, mood and melancholy, spite and spleen. Conversations about proposed projects with all of the "Hurt" residents, for instance, indicate that most of them will be addressing their collective theme in generally indirect ways, or with some manner of self-distancing. The abstract side of things seems to be what will prevail — abstractions of an abstract notion rendered palpable and visible in abstract works.

Jean Pederson and Christopher Rico, for instance, plan to treat ideas of transcendence, temporal capture and formal discovery through modes of compositional flux. Although Pederson tends to work in heavier media like encaustic, she will turn to mixed media works on paper for her residency project focusing on layered portraiture. Her colorful, labor-intensive yet light-handed drawings, washed out in places and candidly resolved in others, are imbued with mysteries of materials and histories alike.

Christopher Rico, on the other hand, is concerned with immediacy and chance, seeking fleeting perfections and spontaneous formal intelligibilities through broad, even huge gestures of highly liquid media on large cuts of paper. Wielding big brushes over big surfaces, he will create quite a few new works during the residency, all full of ostensibly unforeseen, indefinite yet hardly unidentifiable figures, visages and personae — if such are what one might locate in Rico's sphere's of so many deliquescent presences. While Pederson will look to history for enigmatic qualities, Rico will pursue gestural intrigue and the intimation of elusive, transcendent mysteries.

Another artist who often works in encaustic but won't be bringing along beeswax is Stephanie Hargrave. She might, however, show up with bees instead. She'll certainly be working with pendant forms of their critter-kingdom ilk to install her mixed-media yarn sculptures — scores of variably-sized and abstracted insects and bugs woven into being, some even used to make specimen-like displays of themselves, or even x-ray-like imprints on paper. Collectively and diffusely, Hargrave's pieces will suggest incubation, growth and swarming while also addressing some of the known unknowns of our very own planet, and of the environmental hurt of global warming.

Louise Noël's planned installation, meanwhile, promises to manifest far greater spareness and spirited airs even while employing the generally weighty material of encaustic. Noël will situate suggestive articles of clothing and choice textiles, all wax-coated to various extents, in one of the gallery's cornered-off areas. In this relatively autonomous but not closed space, her installation will conjure a host of not necessarily unfriendly ghosts and other spectral presences directly out of the walls, ceiling and floor, treating notions of pains from the past that might've even gone forgotten or repressed — or simply buried over time, as one generation's hurt isn't passed to the next.

Generational secrets and hurt, particularly of the matrilineal sort, have tended to receive significant treatment in the works of Deborah Kapoor and Francesca Schwartz. Taking a turn away from the types of multi-media, mostly textile-laden, tapestry-like displays she has executed in the gallery's main space during recent residencies, Kapoor this time plans to produce an installation in the project space that will feature physical hints of the questionable salve and repose of hospice-like clinical settings, channeling the pain her mother is currently enduring with notable dignity and grace, a fact that has surprised the artist and altered, in positive ways, their rapport.

Schwarz often investigates related matters of tragedy, trauma, bodily damage, and physical suffering of familial and personal sorts, in some ways indulging in variably blatant yet materially ethereal manifestations of the same — minimal sculptures crafted from real animal bones, wispy and whisperily embossed silk wall hangings, lightly palimpsestic collages. Her project this time, however, involves mining works out of the unsettling questions that have ceaselessly, hauntingly beset her since the recent theft of some of her inherited belongings — precious family heirlooms, no less — the result of an as-yet unexplained burglary in her home that might never find explanation at all.

Pilar Uribe's works generally pertain to matters of the soul, spirituality, reverence, meditation and mindful quietude. Yet for this period of residency, Uribe will be focusing on a relatively more readily communicable theme, in a sense. Pilar's subject matter this time, derived in part from insights and revelations gained from a memoir she recently read, is healing — as a form of rebirth and renewal, potentially, and as a reminder of life's delicacy and fleeting beauties. In her new works, these ideas become vividly alive in large-scale renderings of hyacinths. Rather than the hurt of a wound, Uribe is choosing to portray the balm of beauty.

Via Johnny Cash's reverberant rendition of "Hurt," a notion of 'hurt' became this residency's driving thematic force. Soon to come into confluence are now the works, discoveries, exchanges, installations and, of course, residency-concluding exhibition that will permute ideas of 'hurt' into yet another cover, of sorts, of "Hurt" — this time taking the creative form of a collaborative corpus of art.


Stephanie Hargrave

HURT – Residency with Michael David

M. David & Co. – 56 Bogart Street, Brooklyn, NY  11206

Residency - February 27 – March 10, 2019 (Opening – March 8, 2019 7-9pm)

Working with Michael David during his Brooklyn-based artist residency was a study in process, precision, broadening, narrowing, loosening, clarifying, materiality, mood, longing and letting go. I went for the sheer fun of it, but was secretly seeking a swift kick in the ass and I was dying for a challenge. I embarked on the opportunity with a fair amount of light-hearted “let’s see what happens” style elation, but I was quietly hoping for a solid intellectual shift, and in that respect, I got what I came for.

The residency was compact. The short turnaround brought a certain intensity, and it was clear that excellence was expected. Fashioning a group show out of the time spent was the cherry on top, but the larger significance was how the group considered one another—how we conducted critiques that helped the whole find deeper meaning. All participants became immersed in the success of the entire space, not just what we were individually making. Michael made sure this commonality would happen by connecting the dots early, and getting us started from a unified idea.

Finding your narrative was encouraged--to really understand where you began was crucial. You were also encouraged to distance yourself from the very narrative you worked so hard to develop. For me, that progression was akin to the process in a Diebenkorn painting Michael shared with us where you can clearly see where the chair leg was painted first, and where it ultimately landed. With the fact of his process right before you, you feel more connected to the work--the perfection is in the beauty of being able to see his struggle for the end gesture. As Michael often says, Beauty is Truth and Truth is Beauty (and that’s all I know). There are myriad ways to get to the core of what you are trying to achieve--to get to this beauty. Dialog, questioning, adjusting, more dialog--all were meant to get you focused, and then just unfocused enough to do something that was successful--not obvious, not overt, but just the right balance of intention and physicality.

I chose light and dark as my basic opposites, and assigned them two of my favorite musicians/albums. Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Playing the Piano / Out of Noise album was my light, and Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads was my beloved dark. After that many ideas were formed, scrapped, revised and adjusted. I pinned down a few key elements that fit loosely with the theme and meant a lot to me personally. Another artist in the group, Francesca Schwartz, was working with Angels and Insects as a theme, and Michael engaged us in dialog and encouraged overlap. I began to create structures that were bug-like without being insects. I was encouraged not to paint with encaustic so as to stretch myself out of my comfort zone. I studied the artists Michael suggested I look up (among them the Starn twins and Peyta Coyne) and just when I was sure that everything had already been done, he said, perhaps, but not by you.

I ended up using a limited palette, and my project became an investigation of entomology and etymology. It was in keeping with my science-leaning tendencies while also pulling in my love of words. I wanted to address the incredibly small percentage we humans contribute to earth’s overall biomass (.006), which in turn spoke to my views on climate change (we’ll ruin the environment for ourselves but the earth will be fine). Everything is mostly plants, animals, fungus and insects. We’re just here to mess with the climate apparently. The plants and bugs will outlive us, and don’t need us, but we undeniably need them. From bee’s pollinating everything we eat to the vast mushroom network beneath our feet in the roots below that allow for composting on a large scale, we couldn’t exist without these hearty insects and the vast mycological network that most of us think of infrequently. In addition, we benefit when we mimic insect behavior. Drones and some of the most sophisticated robots are based on insect movement and behavior. We could also benefit from eating them, but here in America, that’s still not a thing. They are, however, used in medicines and have been for ages in nearly every country. Army ants were collected and used as living sutures by Mayans, grasshoppers have long been used for reducing swelling and relieving pain, and a great amount of research has recently been directed toward the synthesis and use of spider silk as a scaffolding for ligament generation. As antibiotics have started to fail, more and more research is going into the medicinal benefits of insects. For all these reasons, I’m fascinated by arthropods, and chose to feature them.

The installation ended up different from what was planned. I mostly used the black elements, and only one light colored one. I had soaked many of these bug-like pieces in hot black dye and photographed them still steaming, fresh out of the pot, as they made unique insect-like prints on yupo paper, and again as they sat on paper towels. We pulled down a mass of light-colored pieces that made lovely shadows on the wall and liked it better, to my surprise. The sparseness (Michael’s suggestion) was a great lesson in editing. The negative space spoke to the insignificance of humans’ contribution to the world’s biomass, and the dark black everything else on that white wall embodied the rich density of the rest of the world’s biomass--plants, bugs, fungus, dirt, animals, earth.

A rounded steel nest created a wing-like shadow on one wall, a dark beetle-like form hung directly on the wall with a couple small steel pincers at the base, a black-winged form hung from the ceiling creating three shadows that resembled a lacey brassier, and a chandelier-like cluster of these same elements (wings, arachnids, cocoons, arthropods, eggs, sacs) made the centerpiece--a biomass bundle so black it was hard to decipher from across the room if it was 2D or 3D. Lastly, the minimalistic photographs of the individual elements were infused with beeswax and hung out from the wall with specimen pins on four corners. Seven of them were strategically placed to anchor the whole environment. They added warmth and a touch of hazy soft color, and were skin-like. Suddenly it was just what I was hoping to express.

The idea that words change meaning over time is fascinating to me, especially when they end up meaning the opposite of the original. While researching, I found out the word insecty was actually a word! It became a joke during the residency--so many things were insecty. It was a word then, but eventually fell from favor from disuse. Other words not in use for the same reasons, as they relate entomology, are insectile (1620’s), insectic (1767), insective (1834), insectual (1849), insectine (1853) and insectan (1888). I also love the idea of word migration and insect migration, word evolution and insect evolution – there is a delightful play on words that speaks to all manor of things, from insect behavior to group behavior. I saw a video the other day of ants creating a bridge (made of ants) in order to invade a wasp nest. To me, this represents a hyphenated word. Visual synesthesia if you will. And again, I’m struck by the science of the behavior. Creativity in people is one thing, creativity in insects just feels pure and profound.

By studying the chronological account of the birth and development of certain words, and relating that to insect significance, behavior, and movement, I was more able to create an environment that held mystery and minimalism without being explicit. That furtiveness was significant because it unfolded from all the dialog with Michael David, Paul D’Agostino, and the other residents. It fostered the breadth of the thought processes necessary to express the final project. Not to mention it was astonishingly fun.

-Stephanie Hargrave


Christopher Rico

HURT – Residency with Michael David

M. David & Co. – 56 Bogart Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206

Residency - February 27 – March 10, 2019 (Opening – March 8, 2019 7-9pm)

The residency with Michael David was the first artist residency of my career. Though I have regularly traveled to NYC over the past decade, this structure gave me the long-awaited opportunity to live and produce work there for a sustained period of time. I had, by the time I applied for the residency, reached a point in my career where I needed a reset; a line in the sand where I either dug in or died trying.

That statement may sound hyperbolic, yet I was coming out of the worse seasonal depression in 3 decades; no doubt intensified by the highest rainfall that South Carolina had seen in equally as much time. I literally threw myself a lifeline, and went to heal, to learn, and to be challenged.

With only 10 days of working time for the residency, Michael and I reached the decision that I would work on paper and in acrylic instead of oil, which I had been using exclusively for the past 8 or 9 years. With new medium and new surface, the work began to take on new life during our pre-residency sessions, and at Michael’s encouragement, I dove deeper into personal narrative through the work.

The residency’s theme, HURT, was arrived at by Michael after lengthy conversations with each of the participating artists, who came from as far away as Seattle, Vancouver, Texas and Montreal. Each artist spoke briefly about their own journey to the residency, and as the days streamed by everyone’s work took interesting turns and twists; a cocktail of personal discovery, group critique, and Michael’s teaching moments. Specifically, the residency’s title came from Johnny Cash’s cover of Trent Reznor’s “Hurt,” but the point was less to reference this work than to find seeming juxtaposition within oneself to make work that, in the end, was uniquely one’s own. I was reminded of the famous director Jean Luc Goddard quote, “it’s not where you take things from, - it’s where you take things to.”

For my part, I drew on influences as diverse as Japanese woodblock, calligraphy, Byzantine painting, and my own gestural abstract painting practices. While my experiences with spiritual abuse as a child may have been the starting point, I believe over the course of the residency I took the work someplace new, and into its own, autonomous existence and associations.

The breakthrough moment of the residency came about on the day I was finally able to spread out. The seven artists worked in very close quarters during the residency, and after a day or two it became clear to me that I needed to work during hours when the others weren’t present. My work is large in scale, and the techniques required sustained periods of uninterrupted drying time. As I scaled the work up, the very technical challenge of mark-making presented itself. My solution was to abandon the fancy giant calligraphy brushes I brought with me in favor of a common mop soaked in ink. Much ado was made about this on a Facebook post, but the decision was more a matter of banal practicality than homage; AbEx or otherwise. In an “at the door” moment, Michael pushed me back into the paintings to try the unexpected. The resulting play, essentially making monotypes by pressing surfaces together, resulted in next level mark-making that brought my unconscious to the forefront. As I stole early morning solo sessions over the next few days, the process morphed into an intensely physical painting style, one that I am now grappling with back in my home studio as I move back to canvas supports.

Not having attended a graduate art program, the cohort experience was both a transformative benefit as well as a challenge in the aforementioned ways. Over the course of the residency, the artists’ work began speaking to each other, and our own walls of persona began to erode to positive effect. By the final critique, I felt that we had come to understand each other’s work in new and dynamic ways. I look forward to seeing where each of the artists take their work to.

Of living and working in NYC, I can say that this in and of itself was reason to go. Riding the train to work every day, coming home late with paint-stained hands, it was exhilarating in ways I did not anticipate. There is an intensity to the city, even in the far reaches of Bushwick, that is unique unto itself. I think the power of Michael’s residency model is that it provides a dynamic and potentially transformative environment, but the true strength comes from what one brings to it. Those who came fully committed to undergo change did so.

-Christopher Rico


Deborah Kapoor

Our theme was HURT based on Johnny Cash’s redemptive recording of the same name. Initially it was difficult for me to find my way to the concept in a personal way. My first thought was to do a contemporary version of Michelangelo’s Pieta (because it deals with Mother and Child), but Michael did not seem inspired by that idea. As we talked, I recounted a recent experience with my son. We had been driving back to Seattle from Olympia, and I had fallen asleep in the back seat. When I woke up, I heard an aria my Mother used to sing when I was younger, and I asked my son (who was in the passenger seat) where this was coming from … and he had sought the aria out on his own, and had it playing aloud in the car. Tears ran down my cheeks as I thought about how my Mother used to sing so beautifully, while now she is rendered immobile in a hospital bed due to the onset of crumbling bones that no one can seem to diagnose. Michael listened as I further described how moved I was about how my son loving classical music, like my Mother, and as she moves toward the end of her life, he is moving into the real beginning of his musical career. Michael was elated and exclaimed, “THIS IS IT!” And I understood – because this was a story about my own family, deeply personal, and touches profoundly on HURT as the loss I feel of the fading away of my Mother, and the loss I feel for my son who hardly knows her.

We talked before I arrived in New York via Facetime, and I had prepared two completed sculptural wall pieces, CHANNEL (my son’s forearms made of pink horsehair) and MIRROR, MIRROR (see all images above in this post). I had brought along my Mother’s hospital gown and chapel veil, and dipped both of those in Latex paint to drip dry soon after I got into the studio – knowing they would take a while to dry. I had beginnings of my video DUET finished, but needed to add the track of my Mother’s singing (that I was able to download digitally from a cassette recording) onto another track to be playing as my son plays the cello. Fortunately, Pilar (another artist in the residency) had video editing skills and helped me with all the details in time to install in advance of the fairs and our opening.

Sharing the space in the gallery making the work gives the opportunity to witness other artists’ process, and the chance to have conversations you could never have alone in your studio. It’s a very special kind of camaraderie. I crave it …

Others have mentioned, but I will as well, going to see art in New York is not like going to see art anywhere else. This time frame included The Armory Fair and Art on Paper, as well as museums and galleries, and we really had a visual feast going to see these together. I shared a lot of my pictures on Facebook for my art friends in various places to see vicariously what was on display. I couldn’t get enough.

Throughout the residency Michael gave input about all our work. There are teaching moments that present themselves where he will call us all over to have a discussion. Those kinds of conversations are not predictable, and they just happen as they happen. The shows come together because of both the time we’ve shared in advance via emails and phone calls, and time put in the studio once in NY. But none if it would be possible without the deep commitment by Michael to help us get to the best possible version of ourselves in our work. It’s a hard thing to explain. This is my third residency and I have witnessed it every time ,,, seeing him work is like magic.