On August 13, eight Academy students arrived at the Terra Foundation for American Art-Europe in Giverny, France to begin a two-week Artist in Residence Program. Daniel Bilodeau (MFA 2013), Adam Carnes (MFA 2013), Ivy Hickam (MFA 2013), Jacob Hicks (MFA 2012), Gaetanne Lavoie (MFA 2013), Robert Plater (MFA 2013), Amanda Scuglia (MFA 2013) and Valentina Stanislavskaia (MFA 2013) will share their experiences here throughout their residency.
Giverny is a place of beauty. Replete with trees and flowers, filled with fresh air, the lifestyle in this small French village is at once both simple and sophisticated.
On the day of our arrival we were met at the train station in the neighboring town of Vernon by Miranda, our hostess and facilitator. Taking us into Giverny, she introduced us to the area and took us on a tour of the grounds. We chose rooms to live in, studios to work in, and bicycles with which to explore. Miranda has been truly kind and helpful to us. As a group we walked, visited Monet's outdoor grave, and ate our first residency meals.
When I woke up yesterday I just lay there for a while listening to the birds sing. Eventually, there came the charming and unexpected bbbaaaaaa sound of a sheep bleating. It is kept nearby with emu and ostriches. We began the day with a trip to the Impressionist Museum right here in town. We had a nice guide who had a strong accent and a good command of English, but had probably never addressed a group of people for a long time in the language before. Her voice would begin to shake with nervousness, and we would seek to ease her with approving looks of interest and comprehension. The collection was great and unexpected. Afterwards, we moved our bicycles then went into Vernon by van to satisfy outstanding needs for supplies and personal snacks and wine. We had a lot of fun with french words, the radio, and potato chips in unfamiliar flavors such as roast chicken with thyme, cheeseburger and kebab.
Today we went to Monet's house and garden first thing. Monet's extensive collection of Japanese woodblock prints was superb, and the garden beautiful. Best for sure is the large lily pond surrounded by so many beautiful trees and flowers; featuring two little bridges. I remained in this area for a long time, as it grew more enchanting as I stayed longer. I made two little drawings. As tourists passed me, they commented in a variety of the world's languages and about fifteen different parties took my picture, which was funny.
We are well taken care of here. The food has been excellent. In the morning there are various breads and cheeses and jams and fruit and of course, Nutella. For lunch we all meet at 12:30 in the museum cafeteria where we have a variety of fresh options including a new plat du jour and desert du jour each day. Chicken, pork, fish,french sauces, big salads. It is delicious fare, and comes with beer or wine or orangina, etc. and a desert from a long list of temptations including chocolate lava cake and numerous flavors of amazing ice cream. Add to it espresso or cafe creme, and it is a satisfying but lengthy operation; taking nearly two hours each day. The dinner is equally good, delivered by a chef to our fridge and only requiring that we set the table and heat it up in the oven.
Everything in this picturesque village is very attractive, well attended by tourists, and well kept. I'm looking forward to biking around and exploring the natural outskirts some more. My studio space has an old European personality and opens into a beautifully manicured group of apple trees. I share it with Jacob, and we will be spending a lot of time in there.
There is a great sense of appreciation amongst the group, and we all look forward to the nourishment, creation, and building of fond memories promised by an experience such as this.