Tuesday, July 8, 2014

thank you!

printing kickstarter rewards! 

A special and huge thank you to all of my Kickstarter backers! I was moved by all of the support I received from friends, family, colleagues, fellow artists, students and strangers who supported the project. The funding received help make the month I spent in Akureryi at the Gestavinnustofa Gilfelagsins possible. Additional thanks to the Community College of Vermont for its Faculty Professional Development Grant and the Vermont Arts Council/National Endowment of the Arts for its Artist Development Grant.

An archive of the project can be found here.


Don Dickson
Angela + Kevin Gilbert
Charlotte Lin
Emily Todd
Merle Siiro
Michael Metz
Amanda Cook
Karen Guth
Michael Gravino
Mel Oliveira
Brendan McLaughlin
Michael Tallman
Rita Maas
Gretchen Farrar
Lydia Gravis
Nancy Weber
Sharon Dickerson
Drew Harbaugh
Sarah Barr
Pace Willisson
Jennifer Koch
Heather Getzinger
Anna Niemiec
Amy Rahn
Jordan Douglas
Kristen Watson
Richard Burford
Laura Lucas
Melissa Steady
Kerri Macon
Christine Collins
Michael Pursifull
Aaron Lish
Sumru Tekin
Kate Carr
Eric Brink
Ashley Landers
Evie Lovett
Kiersten Williams
Rachel Mullin
Iona Woolmington
Roland Palmer
Michael Dutton
Jessica Dyer
Rachel Mindrup
Mag Holmes
Diane Gabirel
Kitt Hodsden
Jason Pramas
Joseph Williams
Chase Pashkwich
Jesse Standfield
Ash LaRose
Carrie King

Monday, May 19, 2014


It's a sunny spring morning in Vermont. The trees outside my studio window are just starting to leaf out and everything is turning green.  The last two weeks back have flown by, as I have been reintegrating into life and work, wrapping up the semester and planning the summer. With a pot of coffee, I am starting to look through the work I made in Iceland as I enjoy the early morning quiet.

My time in Iceland combined the gathering of materials (sound clips, video clips, negatives, etc), to use as material when I returned home, as well as the opportunity to have a solo exhibition at the end of my stay at the local gallery Populus Tremula. For this show, I wanted to create new installation work - the gallery functions in many ways as a project space, and with no pressure to do anything in particular, I treated the experience as an experiment.

light landscape: myvatn

In the back half of the gallery, I created a light installation that incorporated elements of the landscape from the geothermal area in the Myvatn region with my recurring element of focus throughout the residency, the Icelandic Spar - or as Icelanders call it, "silverberg". I am excited about this direction and in creating other site-specific, light-landscape installations. 

A large print of this scan of the spar was included; this was the only previous work I incorporated. I became interested in how the natural lines in the spar seems to create a landscape, or map:

In the studio, I created a series of 8 scanner images, and these were also included in the installation:

I chose to not spend time editing video while I was in Iceland, but I did comb through the material. I printed 4x6 stills and began sequencing. I included some of those sequences:

Another experiment involved creating a short, looping, stop motion animation on the scanner:

I became interested in the ever-increasing daylight hours during the month of April. Each day, the light increases by about 6.5 minutes. Thoughout the month, I found myself staying up later and later as the days stretched longer. As a side project that did not involve the spar, I decided to calculate the number of daylight minutes for each day in April in Akureyri. The minutes from from 819 on the 1st of the month to 1028 on the 30th. Being that wool is such a significant part of the culture, I decided to crochet a free-form piece for each day of the month that had the equivalent number of stitches. The colors were chosen to reflect the dominant colors in the landscape in April - white, black, deep yellow and blue.  As the pieces formed, I thought about the construction of time, of a day, the twists and turns and changes. I installed the pieces together and projected a double-landscape through the material.

counting, poetry, yarn

 april 1-2

installed, with wine.

The experience of the exhibition was a great opportunity to come out of a month of mostly solo practice and to connect with other artists in the community about my work. I had several fascinating conversations about the Icelandic spar. Kristjan, who runs the space, brought a huge piece from home that has been in his family. One woman confessed to going to the mine years ago, filling her pockets with tiny pieces, and giving them out to children over the years. I also learned that the Akureyri church used the spar extensively on the pulpit. I was able to get in too see this just an hour before I left.

spar photo shoot.

akureyri church.

it's fun to play in the art.

I enjoyed a fun dinner with new friends after the opening, spent the next few days packing, socializing, swimming in the geothermal pool, and finally caught a ride back to Reykjavik with an artist who was transporting work for an exhibition at SIM, and another woman who was going to the city for a landscaping job. I shared the backseat her chainsaw, and watched the lava fields fly by the window. 

april 30, 2014

As the sun lowered in the sky, we saw 2 white arctic foxes running together though the fields. Such a beautiful gift on my last night in Iceland.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

until next time.

As I walked down the long, wooden staircase in Akureyri back to my studio this evening, I noticed - at midnight - that there was still light in the sky, the fading brightness visible in the breaks in the clouds over the fjord. Not often have I been out this late during my stay, but this evening I enjoyed a coffee - and then a glass of wine - and good conversation with a fellow artist Dagrun Matthiasdottir. Dagrun and I were introduced no less than three times at her opening a few weeks ago. Not only is she an excellent artist whose work I really enjoy, but she too is a cat lady. Clearly, we needed to become friends. She visited Populus Tremula last weekend while I was installing and then after my opening, I was fortunate enough to meet her tiny herd of beautiful cats before being invited to a dinner party of post-exhibition takeout at another artist's home, Hjordis Frimann. Hjordis' home is the most beautiful explosion of color and design you could imagine and the evening was a satisfying way to end a week of studio work, the installation, and the opening. More on that exhibition, soon. 

And now, just like that, it's my last night in Akureyri. Tomorrow I leave in the evening for the drive south to Reykjavik with a friend of Hrefna's. Hrefna Harðardóttir has been a generous help to me since my arrival, from introducing me to other artists, to helping with the electronics issues I had, to helping me install my show. She sent me off yesterday with two beautiful clay necklaces that she makes, one each for Kim and I.  Before I leave tomorrow I also hope to enjoy another coffee with Thora Karlsdottir, another artist and neighbor to the studio whose work and company I enjoy. 

The journey from Vermont seems like a long time ago, and in some ways, I am only just now starting to feel acclimated. The connections to the landscape and the contemplative solitude it provides were the first tie that connected me to Iceland, both in 2011 and on this trip also; the additional and new connections to people here only deepens my connection to this place. I loved Iceland when I first came here and I love it now. There is something here that speaks to me and I suspect and hope that an ongoing relationship with Iceland will be part of my art practice in the future. 

I am thinking now of that first trip. I almost canceled it, it came at the worst and the best time imaginable. In the weeks proceeding my departure, my life had changed in ways I did not expect in what had felt like an instant. I remember arriving in Iceland, uncertain and probably a bit dazed and in shock from a loss I hadn't quite accepted.  Thankfully, I didn't cancel. I photographed and wrote and had moments of clarity that were invaluable. It marked an ending and a beginning. I knew I would come back here - and, I did. Amazing, really, to think of this now. 

And so, I thank this place that has been kind to me, this apartment and studio that provided me with a rest after several years of intense work and change, while also providing a place to incubate new work; to the land that fed my heart and imagination; and to the people here who generously opened their homes and extended their friendship to me this month. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

sample collection.

fur hat keeps out the wind...

from Refrain, Einar Braggi

While the earth sleeps
wrapped in its white cloak
the cheerful warmth moves
with the dream of spring through its veins.

I do not hear their murmuring
but feel it in my blood
a silent expectation
of a green needle beneath the snow.


It's the nearing end of winter in northern Iceland. Some days are warm, and some days the howling wind seems to be conspiring to blow my tiny rental car off the icy cliff and into the ocean. Spring is arriving, and today the sun pours into the studio from the skylight above.... at least in this moment. It might be snowing or raining in a another moment. 

I spent the last two weeks exploring this region while photographing and collecting video and sound clips. In the evenings, I read Icelandic poetry and occasionally, a dense yet interesting book on sound arts (Listening to Noise and Silence).  I have also enjoyed cooking and eating Icelandic specialties, such as lamb, Graflax, and what seems like endless varieties of cultured dairy products. I'm not yet sure how I will live without this


I return my car tomorrow and have about 12 days to work in the studio, plan for my upcoming exhibition, and do research related to the Icelandic spar, which has become the unifying element in most of the new work.

I have also seen some really great exhibitions here in Akureyri. I am impressed with the vibrance of the contemporary art scene and the community of artist who live and work here. There have been new shows opening every weekend of April. 

Kristján Pétur Sigurðsson at Populus Tremula

Delicious, Dagrun Matthiasdottir at the Center for Visual Arts

...and her amazing food table, which related to the exhibition.

I also stumbled upon the wonderful Manarbakka, which is a small home museum on a dairy farm. Adalgeir Egilsson, the farmer who is also an amazing collector of housewares, china, match boxes, photographs, and everything else you could imagine, houses his collection in a small yellow house that was moved from the neighboring town of Husavik to his beautiful farm on the ocean. He recently built a historically accurate turf house on site to house more of his collection. He unlocked the museum for me and patiently brought me through every room, telling me about the things he was most excited about and answering my questions. The colors and light were quiet beautiful, and I photographed with both my iPhone and with my film camera, because I couldn't resist it. 

The museum and the carving that greeted me. Adalgeir made it from driftwood.

It's important to keep one's mustache out of one's tea.

In the turf house.

Ship photos that would come in the cigarette boxes. 

Family photos. 

Cats in several windows.... a man after my own heart. 

And of course, the landscape itself is amazing and inspiring on it's own. Lava fields, steaming mountains, blue sulphurous water, boiling mud.... Iceland is a weird and wonderful place. 

Steaming blue water. 



Boiling mud is as weird as it sounds.


from Dimmuborger, Jokobina Sigurdarottir

Dimmuborger - Rocks of Darkness
Mystery and magic are your name.
I know that spectres on winter evenings
haunt the starlit snowdrifts there.
But tonight, triumphant spirits
of life are working their charms,
while light-elves are dancing
on leaves of birch, on tufts of thyme
and heather, and airy shadows
play among the dips and rocks. 
Deep in the caves the old ghosts
of winter darkness dart their eyes,
grimace at the white magic,
toy with snow fissures.
And the ode to summer is blended
with tones of anguish, joy and weeping,
fear of death, the dream of life:
Dimmuborger, first and last. 


Speaking of Dimmuborgir, I learned that there is also a metal band in Norway of the same name. This I learned from these three ladies, who are doing a residency on Hrisey Island. I went out to the island and met them, and we decided to travel together for the day (as they do not have a car). We had a lovely time taking photographs and floating in the Myvatn Nature Baths while we briefly got to know each other. A fun diversion from my solitary time.

Sanna, from Finland

 Anne, from Germany

Kerttuli, from Finland

Back in the studio, I have been experimenting with a few things. More with the Icelandic Spar and the scanner, as seen in the test prints on the wall behind my desk. I've also been working on some animated scanner pieces involving spar and light.  I was never able to resolve my film scanner issue, so I am improvising with the older scanner in the studio. Scanning my negatives will have to wait until I return. 

I also collected soil samples, water and sulphur from Myvatn's geothermal area and have been experimenting with creating paint from these substances and scanning. Nothing I've made has moved me yet on this front, but I will continue to experiment. I did, however, become interested in putting the glass plates of mud on the overhead projector. 

Hub of activity


It's 4pm now, still many hours of daylight to enjoy here in the north, as the light lingers in the sky now until after 10pm. Now that I've posted this update, perhaps it's time to take a walk, clear my head and plan for this next phase of studio-focused work. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014


Every 15 minutes until midnight, the church bells ring in Akureyri, Iceland. This beautiful church sits on a hill above the Gestavinnustofa Gilfélagsins, or the Guest Artist Studio of the Gil Society, which is where I am in residence until the 1st of May. After a 3 day journey, I arrived here the evening of the 1st of April. The town was covered in a thick white fog upon my arrival. Fortunately, spring has since arrived, just as it has back home in Vermont - and so now I can see the mountain across from Eyjafjordur. 

Akureyri, April 2014
Studio/apt is tucked in the hillside of the white building, church above.

The first days have been spent settling in - groceries (shopping was an experience unto itself!), unpacking, catching up on sleep, setting up the studio, and meeting other artists. I have had to remind myself that this is different from traveling; its more like moving, but for a month. I am trying to wrap my mind around the concept of actually relaxing and having more space and time than I've had in a long while. It's no overstatement to say that these past few years have been a wildly intense, full and emotionally charged, filled with experiences that have been painful, beautiful, challenging, inspiring... sometimes simultaneously, and so having this month to finally pause, reflect and make new work is a gift. 


I love Icelandic cultured dairy. Sigh. 

This is not something I felt when I set up the studio....

To start, I had several mishaps setting up my studio. I bought a foldable overhead projector (thanks Vermont State Surplus) for my installation at the Populus Tremula, and when I plugged it in, it immediately blew the circuit in the studio - and both of my replacement bulbs. Fortunately, a local artist is lending me his for the month. The next and more upsetting issue was when I plugged in my borrowed flatbed film scanner. When I plugged it in, it would not turn on.

This was concerning, given how most of my work at the moment is generated with a scanner. It turns out that while computers and most other newer electronics can be plugged into the European 220V plug with a simple adaptor, some electronics require a voltage converter (we run 120V electricity in the US). So, long story short, I fried the adaptor on the scanner.

Damn. But, I must remember that the scanner experiments came from a series of mishaps, so perhaps something new that I wouldn't have discovered is in store.

While I look for a new adaptor (and it seems that several artists in town already know about this issue, and are providing suggestions), I have made friends with the ancient Brother document scanner in the studio. The work is coming out very differently than with the film scanner, as the light only comes from one direction and the resolution is different, but I am getting some initial results that I am interested in.

My main workspace. 
New work in progress.

New work in progress, and my favorite camera.


Installation tests.

View into the studio from the stairs up to the Deiglan Gallery, which is connected to the studio.

And a gift to myself from the local bookstore. It's beautiful. 

Today I went across the street to the Populus Tremula for their opening and to see the space - the gallery is the lower level of the Art Museum, which has several galleries and artist studios.  At the opening, I was swept up by the kind Hrefna Hardardottir who took me around to several openings,open studios and also by the electronics store. 

In case you are under the impression that this is all very quiet and meditative here on the fjord....

The day I arrived, I noticed a stack of ship freight containers stacked up the hill from the studio, with a huge ramp being build on it. Daily, snow from the mountains has been trucked in and now there is a huge jump built. This is happening tonight (bass is currently shaking the apartment). So, in the interest of continuing to catch up on sleep, earplugs been purchased.

fireworks, right outside the kitchen window.

Tomorrow, I pick up my rental car and will shift from settling in to the studio to taking road trips out to the lava fields and lakes to photograph and record sound and video. I am looking forward to the solitude and silence I love about Iceland and to the work that comes of it.

I'll leave with these images of the Icelandic Spar, my current obsession and a focal point in the work being created while I am here.

Today, in the kitchen....
Amazing how the colors change as the stone is moved in the sunlight: