An Unforgotten Past: The Work of Nicolas V. Sanchez

Nicholas V. Sanchez (MFA 2013, Fellow 2014) is driven by a prolific compulsion to bear witness to everything he holds dear. In paintings that depict blind horses, decaying walls and scabrous surfaces, Sanchez suggests a world that is not only falling apart but one that is also slipping through his fingers.  By painting memories that could easily fade into oblivion, Sanchez creates an illusion, first for himself and then for the viewer, of their continuity which satisfies his quest to preserve his family's heritage.

In Nicolas' newest body of work created specifically for the "2014 Fellows" exhibition opening at the Academy on September 3rd from 6-8pm, Nicolas reveals some of his most intimate paintings yet.  On the eve of the show's opening, we caught up with him to discuss his Fellowship year, learn about his inspirations and what's next for this artist-on-the-rise. 

Q: What are the major themes you pursue in your work and can you tell me about your work from the "2014 Fellows" show?
A: Family, heritage, tradition, preservation, identity, space, and preservation are themes I tend to explore in my work.  For the 2014 Fellows show, my work continues to center around the idea of inheritance through family, specifically through my family's history. Linking different worlds by means of family photos, rural animals, and painting methods, a new identity is simultaneously created and lost through the preservation of traditions, myths, and legacies of past generations. 


Q: Would you tell us about your childhood and its influence on your work? 
A: I was born and raised in Michigan where I had equal access to urban neighborhoods and the dirt roads and open farmland. It's that quaint Midwest kind of area. I first started seeing influences of home in my work during my time in New York. I would say my bi cultural experience growing up is what influences my work the most. I would also say my connection to nature influences my work as well. As a child I went outside and ventured into the woods beyond our backyard collecting bugs and teaching myself about nature. I always had an affinity for animals and nature. I recall those times when finding links and overlaps to my past and inherited legacies.

Q: How did you start painting? Do you start with a picture, an idea, or a story in mind?  
A: I have been drawing all my life. Since I could hold a pencil. I started painting in undergrad. I can't say I start in any one way. Sometimes the work starts with an image in mind, other times its a feeling, or a technical execution that motivates me. Sometimes I'll see something and think, 'oh...yea, that should be painted like this...' So sometimes it starts with clarity and other times it starts with moments of curiosity and I have to paint or draw something to find out why I was so attracted to it. A sense of elasticity in my studio practice is important to me. When simultaneously working on a large oil painting and a small ink drawing, each medium is revisited with fresh eyes, hands, and mind. Contrary to the non-erasable and 'restrictive' idea about drawing in ink, my colored ballpoint pen drawings offer a sense of freedom. My first mark is also my last mark. There's no taking it back, so why worry about it? I just keep drawing. It pushed me to become more disciplined and develop a sense of agility.

Q: How has the Academy shaped your practice? 
A: I came to the Academy to develop my technical skills and it has done that. Because the Academy has given me a stronger foundation, I feel less restrictive and encouraged to try new things. I've acquired skills that allow me to express my ideas and explore unknown territory.

Q: If you could retake any class at the academy what would it be?
A: Wade's drawing class 

Q: What did you learn most about yourself and practice during your post graduate year?
A: I learned more about what drawing and painting mean to me. 
 
 
Q: Can you share any rituals you may have in the studio?
A: The only thing I do consistently in the studio is clean up before I leave. I need a clean and somewhat organized space so I can focus when I return. I love being able to arrive at my studio and within minutes begin working. 
  
Q: What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 
A: A wise artist named Guno Park (MFA 2011) told me to "Just draw!"

Q: If you weren't an artist what would you be? 
A: I also like teaching dance (pop-n-lock, isolation, footwork, and body waves) so maybe that's what I would be doing. 
 
Q: Pick a piece and would you tell us about it?
A: Heir, 2014 (oil on canvas, 24 x 30 in). This is Ethan. He is the youngest first cousin in my family. He battles me every time I come home. He keeps my dancing skills on point. 



Q: Finally, what's next? 
A: Immediately after the opening reception for the "2014 Fellows" show, I am assisting international artist Liu Bolin on a project in Chelsea. Then, my work will be featured in a two- person show in November.  I will also be working on a few projects with Accesso Galleria in Italy. Besides that, I will be painting and drawing every day, living and working in the city. 

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Currently, Nicolas V. Sanchez's work is featured in the "2014 Fellows" exhibition on view at the Academy's Wilkinson Gallery through September 28th.  This three-person show also features the work of 2014 Fellows Elizabeth Glaessner and Yunsung Jang.

Annually, the Academy awards Post-graduate fellowships to three exemplary graduating students chosen through a highly competitive selection process. During their Fellowship year, the Fellows receive studio accommodations, a stipend, exhibition opportunities and teaching assistantships to expand the depth and breadth of their artistic practice. The "2014 Fellows" show represents the culmination of their Fellowship year and the beginning of their promising careers beyond the Academy. 

To see more work from Nicolas V. Sanchez please visit his website.  Stay tuned for more interviews from Elizabeth Glaessner and Yunsung Jang during the exhibition's three week run.

One of the Best Paintings I Have Ever Seen

By Amanda Pulham (MFA 2014)
I know that I speak for everyone on the Moscow residency when I say that our time here has been, and continues to be, spectacular. Apart from the every day luxuries of our imperial style Stalin-era skyscraper apartment and access to a beautiful and historically significant painting studio, one of my favorite things about Russia has been visiting the museums. We have visited nine museums: The Tretyakov Museum, The Tretyakov’s Modern Art Museum, the Master and Margarita Museum, The Moscow Museum of Modern art (MMOMA), The Baron Steiglitz Academy and Museum, The Academy of Art’s Museum, The Hermitage, the Russian Museum, and the Pushkin Museum.

The Tretyakov Museum has become a very familiar place to us during our Monday copying days. The museum is closed to the public on that day and we are allowed six hours to paint, draw, and wander around the museum. They have a great collection of Repins, and also some remarkable Vasily Vereschagins, one of which James is copying.

Fortunately, our translator Sonia arranged for us to have a private (English) tour of the Tretyakov’s Modern Art Museum, where we learned about artists like Goncharova, Pavel Filonov, Alexander Yakovlev, and of course, Kandinsky.

The Master and Margarita Museum was a special treat for me, because last semester (coincidentally before I knew I was going to Moscow,) I read Mikhail Bulgakov’s masterpiece, The Master and Margarita; a book that caused a lot of controversy at the time of it’s release in 1940, but is now completely embraced and championed by the people of Moscow. The museum is located in the actual apartment where the main characters in the book lived. Outside of the museum, our translator lets me know when we pass other locations referred to in the book, and I am very excited to see them. 

We visited the Moscow Museum of Modern art as part of the biennale tour. The biennale lead us to several galleries and finally the MMOMA to see works of contemporary art by young artists. Most of the work was either instillations (video and other) or photography. Unfortunately very few paintings were included in the shows (if I remember correctly there were two small, non-representational paintings).

In St. Petersburg, we met a student who attends The Baron Steiglitz Academy. He brought us into the school and showed us around. The Baron Steiglitz Academy and Museum is one of the most extraordinary places I have ever had the privilege of touring. The site of this famous academy is one of the former homes of Baron Steiglitz, a nineteenth century philanthropist. Any description I can give will fail to do the building justice (think NYAA meets Versailles.) Students are surrounded by so much visual language provided by the building itself that in some rooms, large movable walls cover up the ornate wooden carvings, or other decorative features adorning the walls. We all agreed that The New York Academy of Art should begin a relationship with The Baron Steiglitz Academy. 



The Academy of Arts Museum had a few rooms of thesis paintings by their more noteworthy alumni, as well as several rooms displaying architectural prototypes used to plan the design and construction of famous buildings in St. Petersburg. Nikita, the same student who showed us around the Baron Steiglitz Academy, convinced the Academy of Arts Museum to allow us access to their school building, which was “closed for the summer, but also the fire.” The building was massive and abandoned. We were never given the details explaining the circumstance of the fire, but it was very obvious that this school had somewhat recently suffered a devastating fire, and was now scarred from it.



Then, of course, there was the Hermitage. The Hermitage is home to one of the greatest collections of art in the world. We spent two full days in the Hermitage and saw works by Rembrandt, Degas, Cezanne, Bonnard, Brueghel, Rubens, Titian, Pontormo, El Greco, Velazquez, Gentileschi, Goya, Ribera, Gerome, Bouguereau, Michelangelo, and many others. I am eternally grateful to the New York Academy of Art for giving me the opportunity to visit this museum.


We visited the Russian Museum on our last day in St. Petersburg and saw a remarkable collection including works by Filonov, Kramskoy, and, of course, Repin. The Russian Museum has an unrivaled collection of Repin paintings, including Zaporozhye Cossack's Writing a Mocking Letter to the Turkish Sultan, one of the best paintings I have ever seen.

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Amanda Pulham (MFA 2014) is joined by Gabriel Zea (MFA 2015), Sarah Issakharian (MFA 2015), and James Raczkowski (MFA 2015) in MoscowThese four students are spending their summer taking in the sights and creating work on an Academy-sponsored Artist in Residence Program.  Throughout the summer, their adventures will be documented on the Academy's blog. Stay tuned for more.

Seduced by Paint

By Matthew Comeau (MFA 2015)
 

Arriving at a new place, with nothing but time; the first thing one does is seek out its most vital parts to assess which pieces of this new world can be absorbed and brought back to the soul. At the start of my stay here, I was in a funk. As much as I was ecstatic about my surroundings, ready and willing to work, I couldn’t get myself out of the sketchbook, as with everyone; it seemed to take a bit of time before we really sank into our practice.

As time and momentum built up, some very exciting things began to happen in the studio. 
My work has found itself in wild flux as well. I had been having some trouble escaping the confines of my sketchbook, but ended up stumbling upon the gutted remains of an industrial elevator being fixed within the Spinnerei. I took them back to my studio, and spent 3 weeks reorganizing and piecing back together the parts into freestanding and wall sculptures, incorporating bike parts, broken casts, antique cabinets, light fixtures, telephones, street signs, tubing, and even fly tape; still covered in flies. The project eventually turned into a (still ongoing) 12-foot installation, now in the main hall of our shared space, and while I don’t think I can bring much of it home; I found the temporality of the project broke down some psychological barriers in my art-making. Now into the second half of our stay, I’ve snapped back into two-dimensional work, experimenting with oil on canvas for the first time in a number of years. Oddly, I haven’t made a single drawing outside of my sketchbook in all of my time here. It must’ve rejuvenated something in me though, because I’ve become completely seduced by paint. While I don’t think I could ever bring myself to abandon my large drawings; I can’t wait see what kind of language will pull itself out, back in the Academy studios. 
 
Esteban's new painting is easily one of my favorites.  It depicts an outlandishly colorful and impasto driven kind of “80’s party” aesthetic with a twist.   The figures seem to be inspired by an image of some Spinnerei workers from its days under the GDR, as a Cotton Mill. It became a full-fledged dive into painterly buildup, chunks of saturation climbing off the canvas’ surface, colors swimming in and out of one another in the faces of the figures. Having shared a studio for nearly two months now, I’ve steadily observed a conscience abandonment of the finesse of his hand, for the sake of a kind of absurd theatricality.
Hannah has chosen to use our travels as a conduit to push her work in an alternative direction. It seems she’s embracing a new process as well; one that pulls away for the cultural weight and pointed deliberation of her Holocaust images. Instead she’s chosen to derive references from her personal history, with a comparatively organic addition-and-removal of content, pushing towards narrative that is more intimate in subject and visceral in content; while allowing the viewer’s projections to complete her stories. Her new paintings seem to carry a sentimentality that was evident in her previous work, but is instead geared towards the intimacies and precious moments of her own life.
Camila has been exploring figures of authority, versus those of alienation and victimhood as its bi-product and polarity; and how relationships between representation and gestural abstraction can serve to support her conversations. She has been playing with the extent to which extensive rendering is necessary to convey a narrative; as well as how that kind of restraint, for the sake of leaving the open gesture, can leave space for the viewer’s imagination. On top of that, she seems to have stumbled into a kind of re-contextualized use of abstraction, as a potential narrative tool when placed appropriately in relation to the representational parts of her images. I’m excited to see how its use begins to evolve.


On the 13th of July, We had our exhibition at a castle called the Schloss in a small town just outside of Leipzig, known as Machern. The portion of the castle designated for the show was covered in bright pink and blue pastel interiors, chandeliers and Victorian style trim and furniture. The space was sliced into varying, sometimes oddly shaped rooms, emulating a strangely elegant ‘Alice in Wonderland’ feel. After a solid day of installation, all of our work (in its seemingly disjointed variety relative to one another) ended up as a great fit for the space. At the opening itself, we were shocked by how above and beyond the castle’s employment had gone to entertain its guests. There was champagne being brought around throughout the opening, a live classical pianist, a separate reception room, in which our fantastic coordinator, Kristina, gave a speech welcoming the guests, introducing us and our work. On top of a surprisingly high turnout, given its location outside of Leipzig, the exhibition was even written about in two newspapers! 




Thus far, the experience has been a wild one, with each of our practice’s driven in some unexpected directions. While it is exhilarating to observe one another in such significant transition; one cannot help their own excitement for what is to come next year.

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Matthew Comeau (MFA 2015) is joined by Hannah Stahl (MFA 2015), Camila Rocha (MFA 2015), and Esteban Ocampo (MFA 2015) in Leipzig, Germany for a two-month Residency.  The students will share their adventures in Germany throughout the summer on the Academy's blog.  Stay tuned!

Free From Self Doubt

By Sarah Schlesinger (MFA 2015)

MERHABA FROM ISTANBUL 
To prepare properly for this residency, I spent hours asking google questions like "What's the weather like in Istanbul?" and "Where is Istanbul?" to "Can women wear shorts?* The wealth of information that experienced tourist bloggers gave made me nervous and overwhelmed. I hope this blog post reaches all timid Turkish travelers and eases their worry.

ISTANBUL IS AMAZING
After landing in Istanbul, all of my concerns melted away instantly. To answer my first question, the weather is perfect. It is hot, sunny, and breezy during the day and turns cool in the evening. Even during the hot parts of the day, a breeze coming off of the Bosphorus cools the city down.  The Bosphorus is a glorious waterway that connects the Black Sea and Sea of Marmara.  It divides Europe from Asia. It is full of leisure, commercial, and commuter boats. Russian cargo ships can be seen speeding past fishing boats and day trippers, all dwarfed by the massive cruise ships that dock in Istanbul for the day.

Mimar Sinan University, where our studios are located, is under the constant slapping of waves made from the passing boats. Having such a gorgeous view of the Bosphorus just outside the building creates a calming and inspiring setting to create work. The school and our lodging are located on the European side of Istanbul. Erinn and I are staying in a girls dormitory located by the Bosphorus Bridge about a 15 minute bus ride from school. Getting around has been incredibly easy. They have functional, efficient, and inexpensive public transportation, as well as an abundance of taxis.

FREE FROM SELF DOUBT 
While most people do not speak English, and my attempts at speaking Turkish have left me with blank stares, everyone I have met has been incredibly friendly and helpful. As a foreigner I do not feel out of place at all, as I have often felt in other places I have traveled.  Through jet lag, supply shopping, cultural mysteries, and limited open studio hours, we have managed to get ourselves situated and have all delved into our various projects. The limited building hours are allowing us to explore the city and experience the Turkish culture to a greater extent than if we were working around the clock. I have found the change of scenery freeing especially from the usual set of creative self-doubt. I have enjoyed making decisions with less hesitance, knowing that I have the whole month to have failures and fix them before anyone in North America finds out about them. Sharing studio space with the others has been motivating and inspiring, and I can already tell I will miss being here.

PROOF OF GENEROSITY
We have all set up and begun to work in our nooks, not unlike the pigeon and her babies who have found a home in the stairwell. Also found in every nook and cranny of the city are kittens. The treatment of stray animals are further proof of the generosity and hospitality of Turkish people  

The Saturday after arriving, the four of us had the delight of seeing Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque in the old city. To our surprise, visiting these popular monuments did not feel touristy. Between the two buildings lies a gardened park, filled with picnickers and napping Turks. To my dismay, there was a real lack of knick-knacks and postcards being sold (there is a post card shortage in this entire city - finding some is my unending quest).



PRINCES ISLANDS
We then had the pleasure of traveling with Gökhan, a fellow New York Academy student who is from Istanbul, to one of the Princes Islands. Gökhan painted a beautiful water scene while the rest of us swam in said water scene. The islands are automobile free, and the only way to get around is by bike or horse drawn carriage, the horses having a special desire to run over Erinn.
All in all, the city is beautiful, the people are lovely, and I might never leave. And if I do, I'm taking a kitten.

*Yes, they can and do. This is a stupid question.

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Erinn Heilman (MFA 2015), Nick Lepard (MFA 2015), Sarah Schlesinger (MFA 2015) and Jacob Hayes (MFA 2014) are currently spending their summer on an Academy sponsored residency in Istanbul.  To learn more about their experiences and progress check back in on the Academy's blog for new entries each week.

The Occasional Dance Party

By James Raczkowski (MFA 2015)

Having just arrived back from Moscow from a short but incredibly memorable trip to Saint Petersburg I am full of spirit and inspiration.  Both Moscow and St. Petersburg are vibrant and alive. The streets are full and never empty. The sun shines for 20 hours a day and the locals savor every moment of that warmth. This innate energy coupled with an immense amount of artistic culture imbedded into Russian society breads creativity and verve.


The people we met here were generous and kind. We had tea and cognac with friends' grandparents, taken out to dinner by strangers and have been guided  through Saint Petersburg to visit secret landmarks well off the beaten path by a stranger and now new friend Nikita.


Altogether this residency has been magical  and memorable. Each day was filled with history, art, and friends. This  very foreign land with different culture, customs, language, and even alphabet is at the same time oddly familiar .  This familiarity is created by a common human spirit, love for one's country and an eager willingness to share.

  
AN AVERAGE DAY IN MOSCOW

At four in the morning just as sun was creeping over the horizon many locals were just closing their eyes. We too have adopted this interesting and sometimes confusing sleep pattern. Our afternoons were filled with sight seeing, going to cafés, museums and our sun drenched evenings were spent at the studio working late through one breathtaking sunset and equally beautiful sunrise after another.


I spent most of my mornings running through Moscow taking a new route each time to discover something unique and inspiring along the way.


In the afternoon our friends and guides Sonia and Nikolay lead us with authority through the city. Sometimes we took the subway or taxi, however we always end up waking and walking from one monument to another.


The subway was always such a treat as each station is unique and grand and often equipped with wifi.  All the stations are designed by a different artists or architect which created an elaborate underground museum.


The taxis were also different, mostly because there are no taxis. Your ride through out the city is determined by anyone who decides to pull over on a whim. We have ridden in everything's from BMW's to green fur covered soviet sedans reeking of gasoline. This always unique experience was the norm and it costs $8 dollars or 300 rubles to go anywhere in the city, even down the street.

After a day of walking and visual overload we found ourselves inside our beautiful light filled studio equipped with same cast sculptures you could find at the Academy with an incredible view of downtown Moscow.


The studio was always buzzing with music conversation, painting, and the occasional dance party. Creating work inside such a beautiful space and working next to other talented artists has been nothing but a pleasure and growing experience. 

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James Raczkowski (MFA 2015) was joined by Sarah Issakharian (MFA 2015), Gabriel Zea (MFA 2015) and Amanda Pulham (MFA 2014) in Moscow.  These four students spent the summer taking in the sights and creating work on an Academy-sponsored Artist in Residence Program.  Throughout the summer, their adventures will be documented on the Academy's blog. Stay tuned for more.

Relearning How to Exist



Participating in a residency in Shanghai is unlike anything we have experienced. China is unique because of our lack of familiarity with contemporary Chinese culture, customs, and language barriers. The process of trying to make sense of this new world is a phenomenological undertaking.  Our thoughts and needs are communicated via hand gestures, pictures, electronic devices or a third party--who may selectively translate what we are saying.

Our ability to function through known means has been removed, and the result is a sort of ontological shock.  Even the simplest elements of life become a phenomenon, and we are essentially relearning how to exist. 

In the text, Being and Time by Martin Heidegger, dealing with the nature of existence is explored; "Being cannot be grasped except by taking time into consideration, the answer to the question of being cannot lie in any proposition that is blind and isolated". As we experience life in China we can only open ourselves to the supreme novelty of the residency. Our experiences do not need to be made sense of in the moment, but rather, this is an opportunity to gather information. To truly understand something one must surrender preconceived notions about what could or should happen. One must simply Be and experience life as it is in the moment, and only in hindsight, we can reflect upon what we learned.
 
Being here is a wonderful opportunity to learn. One of the most curious aspects that I have found deals with the arrangement of space. Architecture in Shanghai is bold and imposing. Each grouping of buildings appears to be based on one Architectonic model, which is repeated a number of times. The lumping of structures divides the city into a series of rhyming blocks of buildings, which is followed by a vast expanse of flat land that extends forever.
 
The traditional city of Hangzhou is what one might imagine of China in the early 20th Century to be.  We hiked through a bamboo forest to the top of a mountain. We looked down through the clouds to see an impression of the city, and a tea farming town in the distance. While walking the countless steps to the Pagoda atop the mountain, I kept thinking about the overall composition of traditional Chinese ink drawings. In them the viewer experiences space not in terms of linear perspective, but as a holistic impression of how space feels.
One day Wang Yi took us to the opening of "Return to Simplicity", a retrospective of Wu Shanming's work,  I realized that climbing the mountain actually felt like the works we saw at the Zhejiang Art Museum. Shanming's oeuvre was comprised of variations of wash drawing techniques. He answered questions regarding the use of color as a compositional device, where to crop an image, where to simplify, and where to allow the abstract nature of the medium to flow, for the sake of creating an image that is captivating and sensitive. 
China is a land of many joys, such as the pleasure of truly getting to know fellow residents, as people and as Artists.  Our weekly critiques have been challenging at times, and yet because of the respect we have developed for each other, and because of the fact that we are all mutually invested in the success of the other's work, positive changes are happening in the studio.  This residency has benefited us not only in studio time, and cultural learning, but also in the freedom to sit and read. I find myself reflecting on  a quote by Nietzsche, in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, "You teach that there is a great year of becoming, a prodigy of a great year; it must, like a sand-glass, ever turn up anew..." The challenge understanding a place so detached from Western Culture is that we are forced to rethink ourselves, not just as the character we know ourselves to be, but as artists, whose work is eternally evolving, influenced by our surroundings and stimuli.

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On May 26, four Academy ventured to Shanghai, China to participate in a six-week residency. Tamalin BaumgartenDana KotlerArcmanoro Niles, and Ryan Schroeder (all members of the MFA class of 2015) will share their experiences here throughout the summer.

Marble's Elusive Fruit


By Steve Shaheen (MFA 2005)

After six weeks in seaside Carrara, the skin is tan, the body sore, the stomach accustomed to heaping portions of carbohydrates, and the New York grind a fleeting bad dream.  The rust has finally been scraped off my Italian, but my brain is amply scrambled from constant translation, so much so that I am now responding to Italians in English and Americans in Italian.

The days are long, and the hardcore among us work from 7am to 9:30pm. Sculpting in natural daylight is infinitely better than under studio lights, and there is a local adage that reinforces this: Che si fa di notte si vede di giorno (what you do by night you see by day).  In Carrara there is no sense of a relaxed Mediterranean culture that is perpetually tardy and punctuated by siestas; as long as the sun shines and blood stirs in your veins, you work.

What is work?

Work is donning a respirator, safety glasses, ear protection and gloves to dive into a clamorous white mist of strenuous and irrevocable decision making.  Work is subduing a writhing pneumatic hammer that delivers 6,000 blows per minute, and submitting its abusive concussions to a mass of 200-million-year-old crystallized marine skeletons with the hope that somehow all this violence will eventually make sense.  Work is cradling a 2400-watt angle grinder with 9-inch blade screaming at 10,000 rpm, three inches from your hands, as you whittle a block of marble that was moved by a crane at breakfast into something you can hoist with one arm by lunch.

This is the world of contemporary stone sculpture, at least to those of us remaining who do our own work.  It's not for everyone.

But Heena Kim (MFA 2014) and Josh Henderson (MFA 2015) have assimilated disconcertingly well into this severe and otherworldly gulag.  After the first few days I realized they were hopelessly corrupted, and no dust or noise or consternating technical hurdle would sway them.  Something about the beauty of the material, the direct engagement with it, the challenge of the process--as well as the hope for what it might someday become--holds a transfixing allure for those who taste of marble's elusive fruit.  Heena and Josh are approximately halfway through their pieces.  In general, however long it takes you to rough out and model your forms on a stone sculpture, you can calculate the same time to rasp, sand and finish the work. While accolades are premature, Heena and Josh have so far done exceptionally well.  After four years of leading this residency (Quentin McCaffrey 2011, Joseph Brickey 2012, Heather Personett and Zoe Swenson-Taylor 2013), I feel spoiled by Academy students' level of preparedness and their ability to jump into one of the most technically challenging media available to artists.  

Italy is a place of surprises, whether it's discovering your rental car's spare tire has a hole in it while on the shoulder of a highway, or your train catching on fire.  In addition to these memorable occurrences, we've had many pleasant impreviste.  Highlights include: Josh and Heena's invitation to participate in Carrara Marble Week (an art and design fair in the city's historic center); a lunch with American expatriate, painter/engraver Robert Carroll; admission to a closed room in the Bargello for a private viewing of Bernini's Costanza Bonarelli; a six-hour hike in the green mountains above Camaiore.  Josh also claims that he is surprised to discover that olive oil tastes like olive oil, and tomatoes taste like tomatoes.

I'm about to leave the land of vermentino and spaghetti allo scoglio for the concrete and steel jungle I call home.  Check out more details about the Carrara residency on Josh Henderson's blog.

Alla prossima,
Steve Shaheen

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This summer Steve Shaheen (MFA 2005) led a two-week stone carving residency in Carrara, Italy generously sponsored by ABC Stone.  The residency  promotes the use of stone in artistic practice by pairing young artists with master sculptors for experimental learning through intensive mentoring.