I feel really blessed to be part of Columbia’s ongoing Ireland Study Abroad Program! In the past five years, the Columbia photography program has established a relationship with the Burren College of Art in western Ireland over by Galway. Each year for the past 3 we have sent a small cohort of students to the Burren College of Art to pursue intensive creative, often studio based work for approximately 3 weeks. The program is facilitated on Columbia’s end by Kelli Connell, and this year almost the entire first year, myself and two of the third years are going, including one person who has been before. Kelli has told us to invest in some wool if you can. It’s how the Irish survive their weather.
Newtown Castle is onsite, which is of interest for me. I am looking forward to being able to make fires in the public fireplaces in Newtown Castle, but aside from that the space is available for sound works, for performances, and for spending time while in school in ireland. Alot of my own work centers around looking at the relationships that we have to the natural world, and thinking about European colonization of the world. I find that in the studio, these relationships can be pieced together in much more cohesive, cogent forms which I am hoping to work on while in Ireland. i have also begun sainting houseplants by placing gold leaf around them in ways reminiscent of the gold leafing of the Book of Kells.
However I am also interested in performance. I cut my teeth as an opener in a Queer and Trans venue which myself and a few others ran out of our house in Louisville, KY. Since then I have come to use the musical works of PJ Harvey as a structural framework for the artistic works which I have produced with sound ever since, as well as in crafting a performance identity. I am hoping to perform all of the album of “Let England Shake” in Newton Castle while I am there.
Everyone who has gone to Ireland to date has come back absolutely raving about it, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to approach my work in this new place which has a special relationship to my own connections to the natural world and colonization. My own family hails from Inverness, Scotland on my dad’s side and from Appalachia on my mom’s. I have always wanted to go to Europe and think about these connections, exploring what it means to even be from somewhere, and to come from an assimilated, privileged place within that history. If it goes according to plan, I am hoping to continue to uncover the various ways in which my work is constantly referencing this search for the home, and continuously looking for the ways it manifests. Hopefully Ireland has some clues! We leave January 2 and will be gone until January 24th. Looking forward to this.