My excitement could not be tempered as my father helped me load up a U-haul rental with my current body of work in the early morning hours of an overcast Brooklyn morning. I had received my Joseph Campbell-esque call to new adventure in the form of an artist/teacher-in-residence acceptance phone call from West Nottingham Academy a few weeks prior, but now the moment of action was upon me.
|Durga (in progress)|
West Nottingham Academy has a special relationship to New York Academy of Art in that our highly respected senior critic Eric Fischl was an alumni of the boarding high school (which just so happens to be the oldest institution of its kind in the nation). Mr. Fischl decided to construct a bridge between the Academy and WNA to provide an enriched artistic program for the high school and a funded opportunity for selected Academy alumni to gain a trimester’s worth of teaching experience and a sheltered, quiet space for art production.
As my father and I pulled onto and off of busy city-scenic highways (I myself having forgotten the burden of traipsing giant automobiles through urban asphalt labyrinthian webbings; I am strictly publicly transported these days), painting and drawing projects that could finalize the syllabi for my two classes popped in and out, on and off in my mind, like interstate entrance and exit signage or traffic lights. The program to which I was headed was to provide room and board, three wonderfully well-cooked meals a day, a beautiful three-windowed studio space, a solo-exhibition, a generous stipend, and two studio courses to teach five days a week for the duration. I want to make clear the immense benefits of this for current and future alumni, because the program is available for you to apply to every session, and three alumni total are awarded the residency every year.
Upon arrival in a lush rural landscape, overgrown with the stunning type of nature I didn’t yet realize I yearned for, I met Trish Kuhlman, head of WNA’s art department. Trish, an immensely talented painter and teacher, whose care for and responsibility to her students goes above and beyond the call, introduced me to faculty, staff, and students. Everyone showed (and continues to show) me such hospitality and welcome that I immediately became convinced I serendipitously turned up in some type of cinematic vision of paradise, where community is close and caring, where nature exhales a majesty that I then breath, where education unites and illuminates.
My father and I, elated and hopeful, unloaded the truck. Within the next two days we hung my show, the gallery being a beautifully open space in the main school building, and the proud owner of an authentic Foucault Pendulum, an early mechanical device that legitimized the theory that our Earth was in orbit (I could have believed the theory without the device, seeing as how my world never sits still for too long).
I have now settled in and have moved through several wonderfully fun projects with my classes, all the while contentedly working along on my current composition. Still, only two weeks have passed!
I fear the difficulty will now be for WNA to pry me loose at the end of my trimester, for I have fallen in love with this intimate, beautiful rural oasis.
Jacob Hicks (MFA 2012) will be blogging here throughout his artist residency at West Nottingham Academy, Colora, Maryland about his experience. If you have any questions for Jacob, please leave them in the comments section of the blog.
All photographs taken by Jacob Hicks.