Tag Archives: artist-in-residence

Water and Fire, Drawings and Dirt: The 2018 Fiore Residents at MFT’s Gallery

During the summer of 2018 six visual artists, one writer, one performance artist and one gardener lived and worked together at Rolling Acres Farm in Jefferson, Maine. All had been selected for the MFT’s Fiore Art Center residency program, because of the common thread running through their work: a meaningful engagement with themes related to agriculture or the environment.

The solitude, natural setting and communal aspect of the residency allowed the artists to focus, explore and create in new ways. The exhibit of the work produced during their residency is a fabulous exploration of color, atmosphere, and connection to the natural environment. The 2018 Fiore Residents Exhibit opened March 18 and will be on display until May 24th. It concludes with artist talks at 5pm and a closing reception from 5:30-8pm at the MFT Gallery in Belfast.

Performance artist Heather Lyon woke many mornings at dawn to walk through dew-covered fields down to the lake. Working in and with the water, she ultimately crafted several performative videos. MFT Gallery displays her “Safety Poncho (Orange)” video. With its hushed silvery greys and bright red-oranges, the video engages in a riveting dialogue of water and fire with Michel Droge’s vibrant, atmospheric oil paintings: “Yesterday’s Fires” and “Pleiades Showers.” Through her interactions with the land and observation of constellations above the farm, Droge explored patterns in the micro and macro relationships of life in her watercolor and graphite drawing of “Queen Anne’s Last Wishes.”

Carol L. Douglas created her vivid plein air landscape paintings “Blueberry Barrens, Clary Hill” and “Blueberry Barrens, WC” in oils and watercolors respectively, investigating the confluence of paired painting to see if the fresh mark-making that occurred in her watercolors on Yupo would translate to her more familiar oil paintings.

Maxwell Nolin took advantage of the uninterrupted time in the studio to work on two large, luminous oil paintings, “Self-Portrait, 2018” and “Tea,” which enabled him to slow down and reflect on the conceptual aspects of his work, as well as explore different experimental techniques with his process.

In addition to working on her narrative manuscript, writer-in-residence Jodi Paloni produced a beautiful lyrical writing called “Rain Begins the Day,” which captures the essence of the farm landscape and the connection felt by all who were taken in and nurtured by it.

Clif Travers spent time exploring the natural environment of the field and woods and connecting with the community at the farm. In the studio, he constructed an 8 x 6 foot sculptural panel using discarded lumber and other wood products, in an attempt to honor and reconstruct the beauty of trees. Travers then painted the three-dimensional panel in a style referencing church mosaics and stained-glass windows. He contributed a print of the stunning “I Dream of Trees” for this exhibit.

During her residency, Stephanie Mercedes continued building archives of missing violent histories and created a variation of her “Relicarios” installation. Mercedes’ work honors the grandmothers who protested the disappearance of their children by wearing lockets. Her work on display includes research on those that escaped political persecution in Argentina and relocated to Maine, drawings, and a lighted locket.

Thu Kim Vu, from Vietnam, was inspired by the personal bonds formed during the residency through the communal kitchen, food, and the garden. She created a wonderful series of miniature paper drawings of pots, pans, and utensils glued on several overlapping sheets of Plexiglas that are designed to be viewed through the natural light of a window.

In addition to growing unusual vegetables and ornamental food for the residents, the resident gardener Rachel Alexandrou created a video installation called “The Nature of Stewardship”. This was inspired by her work in the garden and kitchen and explores the relationship between human, body and earth.

An interview with artist Tanja Kunz

interview & writing by Eliza Graumlich, photos by Susan Metzger

Applications for the 2018 artist residencies at the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center open early December. There will be six visual art residencies (5 for Maine artists, 1 of which is reserved for an indigenous Maine artist; 1 for an out-of-state or international artist), one performing arts residency, and one writing residency. There will also be a seasonal position for a resident gardener with an affinity for the arts. FMI or contact Denise DeSpirito, Fiore Arts Center assistant: denise@mainefarmlandtrust.org

Tanja Kunz says that she likes pretty places. She also likes light, wildflowers and the color green.

Her artwork—botanically-referenced yet abstract paintings and drawings—reads like photosynthesis distilled. Energy emanates from each canvas, as movement, illumination or both.

Kunz’ studio at the Joseph A. Fiore Art Center is a mirror to the surrounding farmland: greens and yellows spotlighted in the July sun have another life indoors, in oil paint. Everything here is radiant. Kunz is unapologetic. Why not paint that which is already lovely? Paraphrasing the American abstract painter Agnes Martin, she queries: “What is wrong with the world? So suspect of beauty!”

The first painting of Kunz’ that caught my eye was from a series depicting Queen Anne’s lace—a flower perhaps more familiar as “wild carrot” or “bird’s nest” or even “bishop’s lace,” depending on where your mother grew up. On canvas, the delicate blooms seem to stretch slightly larger than life, though their size is ultimately ambiguous; the petals grow and shrink with a tilt of the head. Kunz describes this fluctuation as the work’s generosity to the viewer, and a quality of the paint that is impossible to reproduce in a photograph. Behind the flower’s precisely rendered umbels, broad streaks of light flood into an otherwise muted background. Here, there is a breeze. There is juxtaposition of focus and gesture, and a tension between abstraction and representation.

Also of note are Kunz’ field studies. They too feature Queen Anne’s lace, but this time acrylic on paper and monotone. Despite the limited color palate, they remain luminous, drawing the eye even from their placement in the corner of the room. Imagine cyanotypes but without the cyan. Each work is an exercise in form and line. Kunz says that her field studies are a way of returning to a subject with a different language. She thinks of everything she has ever painted as one large work in progress. A circle, not a line.

Unlike many artists, quick to intertwine explanations of their work with references to their own biographies, Kunz is decidedly private. She is interested in traditional and herbal medicine. She studied cell structure through painting to earn her MFA. She has lived in New Mexico and Texas and, now, Maine. This is all. What she has to say, she says through her art.

Down East Magazine Artist Profile of Fiore Center Artist Thérèse L. Provenzano

Thérèse L. Provenzano will be one of the August artist-in-residence at Maine Farmland Trust’s new Joseph A. Fiore Art Center at Rolling Acres Farm. Her piece Buckwheat No. 8 Cutouts has been selected for the prestigious Art of Giving Gala and she selected Maine Farmland Trust to benefit from the sale of her artwork.

From her artist profile:

“Down East Magazine: Why did you choose Maine Farmland Trust to benefit from the sale of your work?

Provenzano: The reason is twofold. It is about supporting the farmer and the artist. The preservation of farmland is critical to secure farming in Maine. Maine Farmland Trust is a member-powered nonprofit organization that protects and preserves Maine farmland, supports farmers, and advances the future of farming. I wanted to become involved in some small or big way in making a connection between art and agriculture.”

Read the full article on the Down East Magazine website.