Silence and Sagebrush @ Montello
In addition to outreach I’m also a practicing artist. Over the past few years one of the things that has become increasingly vital to my practice are artist residencies.
This last September I was invited to spend two weeks out in the Nevada desert making art in a cabin that is completely off the grid. No phone signal and no internet, just solar power and rainwater.
I’m incredibly grateful to the Montello Foundation and Stefan Hagen for those two transformative weeks of solitary silence living among the sagebrush and juniper of the great basin.
I’ve done a number of residencies and each one is unique. This one more so than most, and about as different as is possible from my last one in Shanghai.
The most exceptional and for me, valuable thing about this residency is its isolation. You’re a treacherous 4-mile drive (but very pleasant hike) from the nearest phone signal.
While here you consider carefully the resources you use that we often take for granted. The cabin operates off of solar power and uses a rainwater collection system, emphasizing how rare and precious water is in a desert.
My first few days were defined by smoke from the tragic wildfires around Tahoe, underscoring the fragility of our environment.
I found that even after one day I began to adjust myself to the rhythm of this stark and beautiful area. The sunrise and sunset, walks in the cool of the morning, the sometimes-fierce afternoon and evening winds, and the startling array of stars at night.
There’s a beauty and subtlety to the landscape here, so much so that you begin to notice not just its openness and grand gestures but a multitude of small and wonderful things.
This is a place that in its isolation and openness compels reflection. While I spent plenty of time painting and drawing, a lot of what I did was consider my own practice, the threads of which are already forming the beginnings of a new body of work.