“There is really nothing to distinguish these two years,” Sitka 2020 resident and 2021 Art Invitational artist Samantha Wall reflected on her pandemic artmaking as part of a recent talk hosted by Oregon Contemporary and honoring the catalog release for the Time Being exhibition and how it feels like time is no longer being measured in years. “I’m interested in observing nature,” 2018 Art Invitational artist and 2020 resident Maya Vivas shared about her own pandemic process during the talk, describing the ways organisms like trees can seem still to human observers when, in fact, “they are not still, they are in constant motion, constantly growing.”
Wall’s and Vivas’ insights resonated with a creative tension I’ve observed in my own work and life over the arch of these years. In some ways, time and my memories of how I’ve filled it feel blurred and distorted. The turning of the calendar from 2021 to 2022 didn’t feel like the dawning of a New Year, but rather like a continuation of some new and unpredictable cycle unrelated to the earth completing another rotation around the sun.
When I look back, however, at all this community has accomplished together through this harrowing time, I am astonished by how much visible evidence there is of healthy movement, evolution and growth. Sitka’s vital signs are strong.
Our Youth Program celebrated its first full year serving coastal kids through area schools. We are poised to double our reach in 2022 to serve over 1,000 PK-8 kids with free workshops and art supplies. I am in awe of the depth of passion and quality of programming our (newly promoted) Youth Program Manager Leeauna Perry is bringing to Sitka as she steps into a full-time position on our team. This newsletter contains details for a special Your Art’s Desire online fundraiser and celebration on February 10 where Leeauna will share more about our early impact and plans for the future. Please come help congratulate Leeauna and support the next generation of nature-inspired artists.
Our Residency Program has grown to serve over 30 practitioners annually, representing an ever-broadening spectrum of backgrounds and perspectives. When we ask our current residents how they heard about Sitka, one of the most common answers is “by word of mouth from a recent resident.” These referrals are earned through the genuine warmth and attention to detail that General Manager Nicola Harrison, Program Manager Tamara Jennings, Facilities and Ecology Manager Bob Langan and Administrative Coordinator Nancy Newman bring to hosting all who work and stay at Sitka. Together, they cultivate an environment in which reflection is possible, inspiration sparks and new work is created.
This past fall, Sitka purchased Estuary House, a private, one-bedroom cottage within main campus walking distance and with an inspirational view of the Salmon River Estuary. Already in use, Sitka will share this new space with speakers, Youth Program guest collaborators, guest jurors and visiting Residency Program alumni, among others. Thank you to all in the Cascade Head neighborhood for making Sitka’s guests feel so welcome. We will share more with our Residency alumni community this year about how the Estuary House can support your creative work with time and space on the Oregon coast.
In 2021, you came together in record-breaking ways in support of Sitka’s programs through our annual and year-end giving campaigns and of the regional artists showcased in the Art Invitational. I am grateful to Art Invitational Coordinator Katie McClintock and Development Director Lisa DeGrace for bringing us together as a community in support of artists, scientists, and the healing power that opens up when we embrace our natural wonder and creative spirits and invest in organizations and individuals who uplift us.
Our 2022 Workshops are available online to preview now in advance of members-first and open registration. Thank you to Program Manager Tamara Jennings and our growing Instructor community for curating such a vibrant spring and summer of programming to which we can all look forward. Connect with nature in some small way every day, carry a sketch pad, carry binoculars, keep a journal... Whether you have a New Year’s resolution to take a workshop at Sitka this year or to nurture yourself in other ways, I hope you find as much inspiration in our catalog as I do. Watch your mailbox for a Spring + Summer Guide in the month ahead.
Over one hundred of you participated in our first Resident Talk of the New Year. Thank you to everyone who has been attending our online talks, readings and keynote speaker series, and to our current Residents for taking us inside your work. When I am feeling the most quiescent, your presence and exhange is enlivening.
Reflecting on all we have achieved as a community, I am reminded by you, and by the bulbs forcing their way up into the January light that the earth is, in fact, still in orbit, that dormancy is a natural part of growth and that the experiences and relationships we foster together at Sitka are life-giving.
Yours in constant motion,