What would happen if you were to take a writer, a musician, a visual artist, a weaver, a sculptor, a film maker and an environmentalist and lock them in one place for a month? It’s simple – they become friends, they study from each other, they create, dine and hang together. At the end they have long goodbyes and carry memories away to different parts of the world, hoping one day to meet again.
I-Park Foundation brought us together and offered amazing studios, chef-made dinners and lots of care which stimulated our creativity and allowed to focus on our projects. Ralph Crispino and Joanne Paradis started this project about 15 years ago and it grew into an impressive art sanctuary, a very special place that any creative soul will find a muse.
But let me introduce our creative group:
Jette Mellgren, Denmark, Weaver jettemellgren.dk and fletvaerket.dk
Hong Hong, Connecticut/China, Installation Art honghonghonghonghong.com
Elise Winn, California, Creative Writing elisewinn.com
Hannah Subotnick, Rhode Island, Moving Image, hannahsubotnick.com
Florent Ghys, New Jersey/France, Music Composition/Sound Art florentghys.com
Tim de Christopher, Massachusetts, Sculpture, timdechristopher.com
and myself Ekaterina Smirnova, Seattle, environmental art, ekaterina-smirnova.com
I-Park Foundation, located at the edge of a state park in Connecticut, offers a lot of nature, where our diverse group of artists lived during the month of September 2017. There was a map with hikes throughout the forest, around the pond and across the field, and we loved walking around every day and watch how summer slowly turns into autumn. Once we even took a bird walk with professional bird watchers!
I did my daily hikes, foraging and creating small nature installations, sometimes hiding them so well that I was not able to find them the next day. During my hikes I would often meet Hong, who was working on her installation in the forest, which she called “portal”.
And I would also meet Jette, collecting moss and grasses to create intricate patterns.
Every day at 7 pm we would gather in the dining room to laugh, talk and have fun together over dinner. This time was special, this was our social portion of the day. Left to ourselves in our studios we would pretend to be hermits and spend 90% of our time solely. But here in this warm room, which smelt like spices and all sorts of delicious smells we would enjoy a glass of wine, anticipating the moment when our creative writer and a genius baker Elise would finally announce that the chocolate cake is ready!
I-Park decided to give me a very large studio, inspiring me to continue working large. This studio is very open and new, with tall windows and high ceiling. I spent a lot of time there, working on my Frozen Waters book series and making ice installations.
My neighbor – composer Florent – had a twin studio. Would would visit each other. When Florent was not in the studio, I was allowed to play a baby grand piano. Though I don’t know what he did in my studio when I was not there… perhaps played with piles of snow that I had allover the place.
Hannah had a mystery project, she was photographing ghosts… I don’t know how she managed, by we all saw the photographs and let me assure you they were not a PhotoShop product. Hannah is an amazing film-maker, who inspired me to continue studying film editing, by sharing some tricks with me.
Tim was the soul of our group, with his charming Italian smile and a free spirit. His friend, made of limestone, was called Anatoly and became a part of our group, though he was not joining us for dinners, cause he preferred Russian food. Tim and I did the artwork exchange and now I am a proud owner of a small stone sculpture!
One month might seem like a long time, but it flew by quick. Lisa and Pete were taking care of us so well, satisfying all our needs, that none of use wanted to leave and already started to make plans on how to post pone the next group of artists and stay for another month. But we had to move on.
I will missing I-Park and all of the wonderful people I met there. I hope to return one day.