It happened on the day Valoy and Greg Warburton, longtime supporters of Sitka and cherished friends of Sitka's founders, Jane and Frank Boyden, visited campus. Valoy and Jane's friendship began in the early 70's, and the Warburtons have been active with Sitka since the organization's origins.
The night before their arrival, we sent out an impromptu invitation to the newest members of the Sitka community: our five current artists and ecologists in residence. Since joining Sitka, I've been eager to hear perspectives from a variety of voices about what historically has drawn people to this place, and what compels us to be engaged now. My hope was that at least one resident would drop in, and that I could get an early taste of the intergenerational dialogue I've been craving.
The next morning we pulled a few chairs together in a circle, and put on an optimistic pot of coffee.
All five residents came.
What unfolded was a discussion of art and ecology, and why - in a world in where support for the arts and environmental health are in peril - opportunities like the residencies and workshops Sitka provides are all the more vital.
Kristen Densmore passed around a book of cyanotypes by pioneering photographer, Anna Atkins. Atkins's marriage of process innovation and natural observation is informing Kristen's own exploration of photography, fiber art, and the creative tension she feels between the power of technology and living more simply. Sadie Sheldon, a New Orleans-based artist who explores the excesses of consumer society and builds interactive works from human debris, shared how living in residence on Grass Mountain, surrounded by natural forms and materials, is challenging her assumptions and approaches as an urban maker.
As each resident shared their work, Valoy and Greg wove in insights from first-hand experiences seeing how Sitka has removed barriers and transformed lives through the gifts of creative freedom and natural wonder.
In Valoy's words, "Art has a place in the world that is healthy - healthy for human beings, and that helps us see our impact on each other and the world around us."
What formative imprints do access to nature and the freedom of self-expression leave on us? How do encounters with the natural world, in turn, inform the human imprints we choose to leave behind?
Wherever you are, let's put the kettle on and keep the conversation percolating.
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