Istanbul Residency: The Charm of the City of Cats

By, Tatiana Cordoba (MFA 2016)

I always wondered how an artist residency could change and/or influence a person so much that it would be reflected in their artwork... Now, after thirteen days since we landed in this city I can see why. This city has changed us and we know it, and that has also changed our work. Our exploration of the city has taken us to galleries, mosques, quaint street cafes, ferry rides on the Bosfurus, the Golden Horn and neighborhoods on the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. We have also had the pleasure of viewing our host, Ali Kerem Bilge, family's incredibly expansive private collection with discussions of the Turkish and Global art world over Turkish tea. Ali has also graciously introduced us to several inspiring artists, among them, Didem Ulu and Beyza Boynudelik. We have been completely immersed in this new culture.

Hajia Sofia

Ali Kerem Bilge family's private collection
However, what has influenced us most is our collective desire and need to be present in this energetic city. The experience in Istanbul has been unexpected. It is a city with an amazing and large historical background where eastern and western cultures meet every day in a strange harmony. A city where we have to communicate with hand signals, and where our intuition is key. A city where some locals have tried to scam us (unfortunately several have succeeded) and where you can find at least one cat on every street corner. This city takes our breath away every single day and makes us feel alive. We are living this city while discovering our true selves.

 Simón Ramírez (MFA 2016) and Daniel – Austin López (MFA 2016) having a moment in the Sultanahmet Mosque

Cats everywhere
Jaclyn’s work is about the intimate space where the light is the main subject, making the viewer feel part of one of her paintings. The light of Istanbul has been hugely influential on her. She is currently creating imaginary spaces that contain Istanbul's emotional and captivating light. Austin has found Arabic Calligraphy as a source of inspiration for his vivid drawings. You can find him sketching every second he gets while drinking his new obsession, traditional Cay tea. Simón, after finishing classes in New York, went back to his hometown in Colombia for a month then flew to Turkey. This juxtaposition of countries, cultures and experiences are starting to reveal themselves in his subtle drawings, mimicking his reflective state. And for myself, I’ve been working on small portrait studies, allowing me to process ideas that I want to reflect in my work. Turkey has supplied an unexpected environment that is helping me push these ideas.

A Street in Eyüp

It is 11am (4am in New York, 3am Bogotá) and we are already planning ways to continue exploring and experiencing Turkey as much as we can. While I am writing this, we are making arrangements to go to Capadoccia, we cannot wait to see what this new land has prepared for us.

To be continued…

A street in Kadikoy in the Asian side of Istanbul

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