Once again I find myself overwhelmed by how rich the experience is of having visiting artists sharing our home, lives, and community. Mayme Kratz was our first artist of 2012 and it was a love fest from the moment the plane touched down. Mayme hails from Phoenix, AZ and we met her through a dear friend of ours, Lisa Sette, who owns Lisa Sette Gallery in Scottsdale and represents Mayme's work. She is also a good friend of 2010 Cassilhaus fellow Marie Navarre who gave us gentle hints that Mayme MIGHT be interested in coming to the residency too!
One of the first stops we make with visiting artists is to Durham's Scrap Exchange, a creative reuse/recycling center. We found a large box of these amazing old scientific glass slides and unanimously declared that Marie would love and use them in her work. Even the old glassine sleeves they are in are beautiful. It's always great to see this kind of material find a new life in art.
When we were in Scottsdale we fell in love with Mayme's resin work where she casts natural materials into translucent resins but we weren't prepared to discover the breadth of her artistic practice she shared with us at Cassilhaus.
Our home is adjacent to 1600 acres of Duke Forest and while many visiting artists have enjoyed the occassional walk in the woods, Mayme devoured the forest. She came to us without a car and a computer and her enthusiasm to be HERE and about this place and this time was inspriring. Many days she spent 4 and 5 hours in the forest gathering materials and becoming part of this place. Sometimes it takes a stranger to show you your own back yard.
While here Mayme experimented with tree rubbings and various works on paper. (click to enlarge any photo in this post)
She also started fabricating nests from the materials she found on her walks. The most interesting (and scary) was the mysterious "black moss"
The nest work led us to ask Mayme about doing a commission for the entry of our home. When we designed the house we wanted to use an industrial tree grate as an entry pad. We loved the material and it was a practical way to deal with dirt etc. that came in through the front door. We wanted to eventually ask an artist to make some sort of "cornerstone" for the house to fill the large hole in the grate and we temporarily put a section of a tree stump in as a place holder. The tree section has worked so well that we have been living with it for 3+ years and I wish I had a dollar for everyone who has asked us if we cut off the tree in place from under the house.
The nest seemed the perfect metaphor for our house so Mayme made a nest to fit and took it back to Phoenix to be cast into a circular resin form. We hope to light it from underneath. Stay tuned!
Mayme gave an artist talk while she was here to a very enthusiastic crowd. We were able to see a video of her amazing recent installation called The Bower--a free standing 12'x12'x12' structure made of tumble weed.
Durham based installation artist Cici Stevens bonded immediately with Mayme.
We wanted to do a small show of Mayme's work while she was here so she sent some of her work from a collaboration she did with photographer Tim Lanterman called the Dark Matter Series. These natural-materials-in-resin-over-photograph pieces are astoundingly beautiful and have a three dimensional quality.
We have a wonderful new intern at Cassilhaus named Lisa McCarty (more on Lisa in a future post) who is a talented photographer and is enrolled in the inaugural class of Duke's new MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts. We asked her to help us curate the show and she enthusiastically stepped in and it looks amazing.
It was the first time we really used the entry gallery to its full potential and we finally got some lighting for the white metal display bookcase. Mayme showed some of her "memory cubes" in this case.
It became almost instantly clear to Ellen and I that we are getting so much more from this residency than we are giving. Mayme has such a generosity of spirit and has left a part of herself here both literally and figuratively. We have a door in the artists pod where we ask our visiting artists to leave "their mark" from their stay (more on the door in a future post) and Mayme left us this extraordinary poem in the form of a treasure hunt to find "celebrations" she had left in the woods. I wrestled for a long while about whether to share such a personal gift that Mayme had made for us on the blog but erred on the side of sharing these beautiful creations with others.
Ellen loves a treasure hunt and we both had a good time (LOTS OF TIME!) trying to solve the puzzle and find what she left as an offering to the forest. Here is the poem:
path below pod
last days of beech
edge of new hope
space of a clearing
cardinal for cardinal
past sleeping tree
where light is late
We had our young assistants Vivian and Lela with us to track down the "Cardinal for Cardinal."
After searching unsuccessfully for a few days, Mayme offered some hints and got us going in the right direction. She even had left talismans of sorts along the path to let us know we were headed in the right direction (see spiral in the creek.)
Imagine our surprise to see just how wonderful it was to arrive "HERE" We were so touched that Mayme had left a part of herself here on our land and helped us to build a deeper sense of place.
Three weeks went by in an instant. We miss Mayme so much and we are not the only ones. Fripp immediately recognized Mayme as a cat person (she has 6) and insinuated himself on a regular basis in the artist pod.