Projects, Travelogue

Harvester Arts: Welcome to Wichita

Updates from a residency in Kansas.  

I’ve received an exceedingly warm Midwestern welcome to Wichita. I’ve been here 10 12 days so far in my 18-day residency at Harvester Arts, a relatively new arts organization run by artists Kristin Beal and Kate Van Steeenhuyse, and filmmaker Ryan W. Gates. Harvester’s goal is to foster arts dialogues, and they do so by bringing artists to experiment and share their process with the public in short residencies, which culminate in an exhibition—and then local artists are invited to create and show new work in response.

I'm the inaugural resident in Harvester Arts' new location in Old Town. The ground floor is my workspace and will be the gallery for my exhibition. This was shot shortly after  I arrived.

I’m the inaugural resident in Harvester Arts’ new location in Old Town. The ground floor is my workspace and will be the gallery for my exhibition. This was shot shortly after I arrived.

As someone who has spent most of my life on the West and East coasts, the change of location has been a dramatic change of scenery (I am loving the vernacular architecture here; see Instagram) as well as a shift in attitudes. RWG said it’s unpretentious here, but more than the absence of a negative trait, everyone I’ve met has been genuine and proactively friendly. In NYC my first reaction to strangers is an immediate, instinctual suspicion—friend or foe?—”foe” a broad spectrum including anyone who will needlessly waste more than a few seconds of time. Here in Wichita, pretty much everyone I’ve met—including people outside of art contexts—has immediately asked me how I like it here, and are invested in making sure I do.

Before my artist's talk at Harvester Arts.

Before my artist’s talk at Harvester Arts last Tuesday.

I realized that this genuine mutual interest made me feel very safe, and I found myself divulging more about my life and feelings than usual during my artist’s talk last Tuesday. And it was wonderful to be myself, and to talk about personal emotions publicly, and feel completely accepted.

My project for the residency is to research collaboration. I have been conducting interviews with colleagues in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, and around Wichita. Their insights have been reflective and steadfastly optimistic. It’s been an honor to spend this time mulling the bounties of working with other people. To share their words, I’ve been hand-lettering quotes from the interviews for the exhibition, whose design is inspired by publication layouts. I’ll publish some of the interviews in a ‘zine or online.

Kristin Beal shot this great photo for my forthcoming residency project show. Featuring quotes on collaboration (L-R) by lovely interview subjects Eleanna Anagnos and Elizabeth Travelslight and from a book by Twyla Tharp as recommended by Alicia Eggert and Christian L. Frock. The title of the exhibition,

Kristin Beal shot this great photo for my forthcoming residency project show. Featuring quotes on collaboration (L-R) by lovely interview subjects Eleanna Anagnos and Elizabeth Travelslight and from a book by Twyla Tharp. The title of the exhibition, “All the Steps in the Process” is also inspired by Travelslight’s interview comments.

I also conducted a survey (thanks to everyone who responded!) and will visualize the data (with the help of number-crunching by Kate and Callie).

It’s been a whirlwind of activity—conducting interviews, drawing, meeting local artists, attending and participating in art events, and over the past two days, designing and building furniture that will be in the exhibition. In fact, this two-week residency feels not short but condensed, and I hardly have time to reflect and post here about my experiences in further detail. That can come after the opening. So hope to see you then.

Opening Reception: Final Friday, April 24, 7–10pm

Harvester Arts, 215 North Washington, Old Town, Wichita, KS

Exhibition: April 24–May 17, 2015

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