Thursday, June 18, 2015

A walk around the Rensing Center

(Above:  Filigree in Blue, a fiber vessel made by zigzag machine embroidery.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

It's hard to believe that a week ago I was spending my last day at Wormfarm Institute, an art residency set on a working organic farm.  I left last Friday morning to spend the day in the Chicago Institute of Art.  I took scores of photos and hope to blog about it later ... but time is precious, especially since I'm now at the Rensing Center in Pickens, SC ... another art residency ... the gift of even more time!

(Above:  The Main building at the Rensing Center.  My studio is actually just inside the sliding garage doors!

The Rensing Center is located on 26 acres in the Appalachian foothills near Pickens, South Carolina.  It is owned by Ellen Kochansky, an internationally respected fiber artist, who also serves as the center's executive director.  I've know of Ellen long before we were finally introduced (a moment I remember very, very well ... it was in June 2008 at my solo show opening for Blues Chapel at the Pickens County Museum of Art and History.  I was honored ... floored that someone with her reputation would even come ... and I said so on this very blog!)  I also wrote about Ellen's solo show, Embedded Energy, the inaugural show at 701 CCA.  That was February 2009.  Since that time, Ellen has focused on creating the Rensing Center.

The Rensing Center is unique among art residencies as it focuses not only on art but ecology and professional creative development.  I'm thrilled to be here and plan on making art, learning more about composting and ecological issues, and also doing quite a bit of "professional development" as I have several great opportunities on the horizon.

From their website: 
The Rensing Center nourishes creative capability. It fosters individual renewal, community connection, and interdisciplinary interaction among people in artistic, environmental, and entrepreneurial fields.

We are a residency program, providing living and work space to self-motivated applicants looking for an isolated rural, creative landscape, for periods ranging from three weeks to three months. Focus may be creative, professional, environmental, or all of these.

So ... This is the door into the Rensing Center's main building.

It opens onto an indoor porch ... where containers for recycling are located.  I've already had the opportunity to take them to the Pickens County Trash Facility.  It was great!  I've never been to a dump before ... especially one that has a recycling bin for everything from electronics to corrugated to paper, glass, plastic, and a working compactor!

There's also a laundry area!  No more laundromats like I used in Wisconsin!

Here's my bedroom.  Please notice it comes with a cat!

This is Bob.  He rules!  He's already protected me from "something".  I'm not sure what it was as Bob left only the intestines uneaten!  Good cat!

The Main Building is the location of a large and well stocked library.  It also has a WiFi hook up!  Yippee!

Books range in topics from all area of art, art history, environmental concerns, poetry, non-fiction, and even a section for DVDs and other media!

Here's the kitchen.  (Please notice, Bob has his own door!)

Best of all ... a BATHROOM WITH A FLUSH TOILET!  No more out house!  Yippee!

My studio is enormous!

No, I didn't bring most of the things in this area ... but I have more than enough space!  (It doubles as a wood working studio ... thus there are plenty of tools around too!  Love it!)

(Above:  Three fiber vessels.)

I was able to arrange my machines and materials and get right to work.  Using cording made at the Anderson Center in early May, I immediately made these three fiber vessels.

This is a detail of the "open" one that I'm calling Filigree in Blue.  I'm very happy with how it turned out.

This one ended up a bit flatter than I anticipated, but I still like it.

These photographs were taken on the studio floor ... when I had the garage door up.

Some local guy drove up to inquire about the logging being done elsewhere on the property.  He was quite taken with my vessels even though he thought they were hats! LOL!  So ... let's look around the rest of the place!

My large studio garage door looks directly across to Ellen's new, sustainable house!

(Above:  A former resident, the new intern, two residents, the goat herder, and Ellen.)
This is where everyone gathered for a potluck dinner on Tuesday evening.

We ate on the back porch ... which looks over the pasture ... including several goats.  Two were born just this week!

Aren't they adorable!

Every day Chad comes by to milk them.  They are his goats.  He has lots more grazing on other local farms.  He's very generous with the milk!

The goats (and some cows) have a nice barn ...

... on the other side of which is Evelyn Rensing Kochansky's house.  The center is named for her.  She is exactly how I hope I am at ninety-five years of age ... smart, adventuresome, independent, and living to the max!

Just down from there is the "guest house".  It might look small but there's a screened porch on the back which makes it a perfect place for writers or poets or other artists who don't need an enormous studio!

Unfortunately, the guest house is beside a steep slope that was once planted with cotton.  Cotton doesn't fair well in this soil and especially in this near vertical orientation.  The crop failed.  Pine trees were allowed to grow among the hardwoods ... but they are now dying and have to be torn down before they fall into the road below (or onto a person!)  I'm learning plenty on soil management!

Next comes a garden.  It's been a couple of years since it was well maintained.  Part of my "work detail" is helping to reclaim this area.  Pulling wisteria is actually great fun.  The roots go on forever!

Soon this will be the site of a lovely wedding.  The Rensing Center's book keeper will be saying her vows here!

Beside the raised beds in the garden is "The Pottery".  It was once a large pottery studio but is now a large place for an artist or two in residency.

This is the back area of "the pottery".

Very near there is the entrance to the Alder Creek trail ...
... which winds down along the pasture ...

... until reaching the water ...

... always near quilted trail markers ...

... but it was the details that really caught my eye!

A great spider's web

Beautiful moss

Interesting lichen

A blossom on the water

I'm not sure if this is rhododendron or mountain laurel ... but it sure is pretty!

Finally ... a cascade of little waterfalls ...

... and the end of the trail.


Julie said...

Looks like you've moved across to luxury for this stay. I'm intrigued by the potential opportunities ahead as well. Have a great residency!

Maggi said...

What a wonderful place. Still plenty of hard work ahead for you but softened by the addition of some luxuries. Bob sounds as though he is doing his job well. Enjoy yourself.

Unknown said...

What a beautiful place to allow your muse to blossom, I will look forward to seeing whatever you produce in this calming environment

Yael said...

Wishing you a marvelous time there!
These lace-ly vessels are gorgeous, so beautiful, I love them! :-)