Greetings from Red Wing, Minnesota. I am spending the month of August at the Anderson Center, enjoying lots of time to work and think and be and dream and relax and make and do and photograph and draw and film and paint and read and research and and and and and and…!
I am also refamiliarizing myself with this area – rereading Mni Sota Makoce. As always, when I spend time in the landscape, I think about what’s different and what’s the same…which trees might have been around before the white settlers first occupied this Dakota homeland, which bluffs and islands are still visible and which have been destroyed or eroded, what the waterways might have looked like several hundred years ago and how they look and are used now. Forts were built in this area – one possibly on what is now Prairie Island, just up the Mississippi River from Red Wing and current site of the Prairie Island Reservation and the Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant – ostensibly to help peace efforts with the Ojibwe and Dakota. Reflecting on the U.S.’s 200+ year history of starting conflicts through covert and overt means and then strategizing “peace negotiations” so that we have the best outcome of resources at our disposal – from the land I write this on to much of the countries in Latin America throughout my childhood and on into much of the Middle East as I entered adulthood. Thinking about imperialism and what it means to be an artist living in the comfort of paid residencies in this imperialist nation as I wonder how much longer we can continue to be at the “top” of this precarious ladder.
The first half of the month was endless sunny days, and the second half was rolling thunderstorms. Both completely enjoyable. I feel truly grateful to have had this opportunity – to take a break from life, from $jobs$, from alarm clocks, from cooking dinners, from the city, and from major responsibilities beyond taking care of myself and making art. This is my third residency, and it was by far the most productive, inspiring, and fun one thus far. Part of it was the luck of having a really excellent group of people as co-residents – sharing a big house and kitchen is just a lot more enjoyable when you like all the people you share it with. It’s kind of a fish bowl – plus you never know who will be there with you, as that is dependent on those who read your applications. I really lucked out because the most wonderful and amazing artist AriCoco was my next door neighbor (in home and in the studios)! Dream-team!
In terms of my art, I took 938 photos (there’s still 12 hours left, so I’m hoping to hit 1K!), 25 movies, and made 22 different animation tests (most of which can be found here or just look back through my blog posts). I painted a 20 foot long gouache/watercolor painting, drew a couple hundred animals (rabbits, bears, squirrels, coyote, foxes, bats, and mosquitoes) with both my left and right hands, made 3 potholders and 5 shrinky-dinks, and gave myself one very tiny tattoo!
I rode my bicycle so many miles on the Cannon Valley Trail, enjoyed scenic walks and hikes around Red Wing, and spent much time just sitting outside (or in the huge screened-in porch) watching the chipmunks/gophers run around and the monarchs flutter. While there was a dearth of swimming this month, I did spend much time near the Mississippi and Cannon Rivers. I spent several evenings climbing the 76 steps up to the top of the water tower to take photos of the clouds rolling over the ridges and the sun setting behind them.
And yes, that is the Prairie Island Nuclear Power Generator on the horizon – hashtagFULLCIRCLE. In other news – I spent an hour at the Goodhue County Historical Society yesterday reading up on the Prairie Island Nuclear Power Generator. I learned a lot of really interesting things, but my favorite story I found was about all the protests in the early 90s against storing radioactive waste onsite (which the plant did end up doing – and still does FYI), like the one in August 1992 that was “sponsored by the Minnesota Green’s conference, the Twin Cities Anarchist Federation, the Prairie Island Coalition against Nuclear Storage and other groups, met on the West Bank at Murphy Square and proceeded to NSP headquarters to protest what they called, ‘NSP’s rascist attempt to store radioactive waste at Prairie Island.’”