The Occasional Dance Party

By James Raczkowski (MFA 2015)

Having just arrived back from Moscow from a short but incredibly memorable trip to Saint Petersburg I am full of spirit and inspiration.  Both Moscow and St. Petersburg are vibrant and alive. The streets are full and never empty. The sun shines for 20 hours a day and the locals savor every moment of that warmth. This innate energy coupled with an immense amount of artistic culture imbedded into Russian society breads creativity and verve.

The people we met here were generous and kind. We had tea and cognac with friends' grandparents, taken out to dinner by strangers and have been guided  through Saint Petersburg to visit secret landmarks well off the beaten path by a stranger and now new friend Nikita.

Altogether this residency has been magical  and memorable. Each day was filled with history, art, and friends. This  very foreign land with different culture, customs, language, and even alphabet is at the same time oddly familiar .  This familiarity is created by a common human spirit, love for one's country and an eager willingness to share.


At four in the morning just as sun was creeping over the horizon many locals were just closing their eyes. We too have adopted this interesting and sometimes confusing sleep pattern. Our afternoons were filled with sight seeing, going to caf├ęs, museums and our sun drenched evenings were spent at the studio working late through one breathtaking sunset and equally beautiful sunrise after another.

I spent most of my mornings running through Moscow taking a new route each time to discover something unique and inspiring along the way.

In the afternoon our friends and guides Sonia and Nikolay lead us with authority through the city. Sometimes we took the subway or taxi, however we always end up waking and walking from one monument to another.

The subway was always such a treat as each station is unique and grand and often equipped with wifi.  All the stations are designed by a different artists or architect which created an elaborate underground museum.

The taxis were also different, mostly because there are no taxis. Your ride through out the city is determined by anyone who decides to pull over on a whim. We have ridden in everything's from BMW's to green fur covered soviet sedans reeking of gasoline. This always unique experience was the norm and it costs $8 dollars or 300 rubles to go anywhere in the city, even down the street.

After a day of walking and visual overload we found ourselves inside our beautiful light filled studio equipped with same cast sculptures you could find at the Academy with an incredible view of downtown Moscow.

The studio was always buzzing with music conversation, painting, and the occasional dance party. Creating work inside such a beautiful space and working next to other talented artists has been nothing but a pleasure and growing experience. 


James Raczkowski (MFA 2015) was joined by Sarah Issakharian (MFA 2015), Gabriel Zea (MFA 2015) and Amanda Pulham (MFA 2014) in Moscow.  These four students spent the summer taking in the sights and creating work on an Academy-sponsored Artist in Residence Program.  Throughout the summer, their adventures will be documented on the Academy's blog. Stay tuned for more.

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