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January Director's Journal

January 12, 2020

With our fall cohort of residents departing to continue on their creative journeys, and with a new cohort making their way to these winter woods, there is a natural moment in the annual cycle to reflect.

What experiences from this past year sparked our creativity and brought us joy? Which questions got under our skin, struck a nerve and inspired action? Who expanded our thinking and changed our minds?

Several works from November's Art Invitational still linger with me now in the New Year. From a cloudbank riddled with aircraft in Dylan Beck's ceramic sculpture, "Dense Horizon" to the flora and fauna dangling from threads in Hibiki Miyazaki's intaglio print "Natural Selection" to the texture-scapes constructed from reclaimed materials in Brenda Mallory's mixed media works, these artists and many others explore the intersection of art and ecology with contemporary curiosity. Sitka's public events in the coming year will seek to build on this thought- and action-inspiring body of inquiry. We will showcase diverse artists, journalists, natural scientists and interdisciplinary voices whose work challenges nostalgic notions of ecology, and who bring fresh perspectives on our relationship with nature as individuals and as a society.

"Dense Horizon" by Dylan Beck, 2019 Sitka Art Invitational

Sitka Art Invitational Sitka's 2019 spring and summer workshop season was uplifting. Ceramic torsos basking in the sun, poems rising up and out from the library windows and hand-painted silk scarves dancing on the breeze are just a few vibrant memories. Even more memorable are conversations I had with many of the nearly 1,000 of you who joined us for workshops last year. We shared concerns that places like Sitka, where creative expression and natural wonder are fostered, seem like endangered species, and we vowed to protect them. We celebrated instructors-Ruth, Zoe, Jef, Kami, Satoko, Judy, Nora, Perrin, Saundra... and over 70 more-who create nurturing studio environments where risk taking is safe and inner critics are silenced. We considered how Sitka's magic is transferable, how all of us who spend time here have the power to create time and space for curiosity and creativity in our daily lives, and to champion art and science within our personal spheres of influence. Program Manager Tamara Jennings is putting the finishing touches on the 2020 workshop catalog now. We can't wait to share it with you this February and host you at Sitka this year.

Torso basking outside Michele Collier's 2019 "Spontaneous Clay" workshop

Over the winter we'll be collecting more facts and figures and sharing our 2019 annual report with you. For now, let me close with one more reflection from this past Saturday's Resident Show & Tell presentation. Sitka's campus may be small and rooted here on Cascade Head, but through the growing community of people who come here for residencies, workshops and events, and through the reach of our collective work in the world, Sitka's impact is limitless.

Wishing you joy and creativity in the New Year,

Alison Dennis

Executive Director