Summer of Prisms

June 1 - July 31, 2012, four Academy students lived and worked in Liepzig, Germany as artists on an 8-week Artist in Residence Program.  Brian Dang (MFA 2013), Robert Fundis (MFA 2013), Elizabeth Glaessner (MFA 2013) and Noelle Timmons (MFA 2013) have continued to share their experiences here.

By Noelle Timmons (MFA 2013)

As all humans experience their lives through the bubble of their own environment, we as artists, and especially students, also get to see our artwork through the said bubble. So, luckily for us, and all other thinkers and creatives, we basically get double-bubble-exposure—we create work that exists within our environment and we process it in a way that is conducive and representative of it. Of course this is nothing new. But, when you are so completely cut-off from your bubble, for the first time, in regard to your art-making practice, when you’ve been dropped from outer space and find yourself in the most East-of-East-Germany-Leipzig, with absolutely nothing familiar around, your bubble is understandably popped. And now it’s been replaced with something different: a prism.

The prism is Leipzig, it’s the Spinnerei, and our entire abroad experience. It’s not as constricting and suffocating as the bubble; it’s multifaceted for more variety and interpretation. But, the prism makes everything seem crazy, kind of Twilight Zone. So I began to see the art world differently, to see some of my favorite artists differently, and of course, to see everything I painted, drew, and scribbled differently. It took time to see my work through this prism. It especially took time to figure out which version, which plane of the prism, I wanted my art to sync with, if any. But the most monumentally difficult thing was to become so comfortable with the new-ness and large-ness of the prism, that I saw myself, and my artwork, in spite of it all. To not get overwhelmed, to not loose sight of my core intuition and creative drive (to not runaway with the German circus), that was the real challenge of the brilliant Leipzig prism.

And so we were free to experiment, to make things we never would or “could” make in New York. We received insight from fellow residents and artists, insight so new and fresh, and sometimes severe, that we were again faced with the warped prism. This residency was enchanting, confusing, and at times, downright maddening (communal living was, ahem, new, for all of us). But I feel lighter, more free, inspired, and confident in my art practice than I ever have. I don’t think I shattered the prism; I still imagine it and let myself sit uncomfortably in it for a moment. But there was a moment in late June, and another in late July, when I just seamlessly wandered out, found myself painting, and knew I had gotten what I needed from Leipzig, from the residency, from the prism of our new space and environment. 

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