RESIDENCY FOR LITERARY ARTISTS
January 29th – February 5th 2024
THE HORTUS RESIDENCY PROGRAM IS OPEN TO ESTABLISHED AND EMERGING LITERARY ARTISTS
WHO ARE EXPLORING THEMES OF NATURE AND/OR THE HUMAN CONNECTION WITH NATURE.
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List of our past residents
Susan Graham – Visual Art – Spring 2019
My work, originating with memories, dreams, and personal stories that ultimately broaden in focus to address social and political topics, is inextricably linked to my hometown, my family, and my childhood. My sculptures and prints use strategies of pattern and decoration to poetically depict the eternal struggle between nature and technology. The flora that composes the base of my patterns are interspersed with industrial structures such as transmission towers, satellite dishes, or cell phone towers disguised as trees. Some of these works are portraits of my local surroundings. While I was a resident at Hortus, I sketched plants and flowers from the collection, and have used them to make the ukiyo-e wood blocks that I use in my printmaking.
Judy Thomas – Visual Art – Summer 2019
Though artists are keen observers of the world around them, the artistic practice of botanical artists involves intense examination of their subjects. As I walk through a garden or natural area, I make observations of the many layers, from looking down at plants on a forest floor or garden bed, across the herbaceous and shrubby layers, and up at the tree canopy. I take notes and photographs and make sketches as I go. I am often most attracted to things that look different to me, different to the area in which I live and the other places I’ve been. It’s the differences that give me a thrill, they lead to new discoveries, at least new to me. (Botanical artists walk very slowly while searching out plants: our joke is we walk “10 hours per mile!”)
After I have identified a plant, a few plants, or a plant community that I want to illustrate, I will take more reference photographs and spend hours doing field sketches. Not all botanical artists do this, often finding the challenges of outdoor sketching to be difficult to surmount. But it is essential so as not to disturb the flora I wish to draw. Field sketches include drawing the plant and all its parts (with the exception of roots!) from different perspectives and orientations. Measurement and determining key identifying features of the plant are important. At this point I will also match colors using my wide array of art materials. Then I’m ready to return to the studio, either my own or a temporary one. This, however, will not be my last visit to the plant or plant community as I often need to return to confirm my observations, to settle questions I might have, and to make new observations.
Botanical art typically involves multiple stages: preliminary sketches, contour drawings, value studies, planning the composition, and then beginning the final composition. It’s a long process and intensive work, but often leads to the most satisfying and pleasing result. The process I’m writing about may sound dry, but it is exciting and exhilarating. The exploration and discovery, the meditative nature of deep observation, and the practice of rendering a plant into a beautiful work are transcendent.
Bundith Phunsombatlert – Visual Art- Summer 2020
Bundith Phunsombatlert is an artist exploring media archaeology. Through various forms of media, his artworks examine how new media technology can connect to past forms of media and their contexts, and subtly imbue everyday experiences with new layers of meaning. His work offers a unique definition of “new” media art, defined not only by the use of technology. For him, “new” media can reveal a fresh new meaning of something old, and be defined by the ways in which each individual connects with their personal background and cultural identity, allowing them to reinvent traditional interpretations of history.
Hillary Fayle Waters – Visual Artist – Fall 2020
I bring together materials and processes that express the union of humanity and the physical world, most often textile traditions, in collaboration with botanical material. We all have a deep historical and lived experience with cloth- powerful and ever-present. Plants and cloth both represent specific and symbolic connections to place, time, people, and memory. Leaves are infinitely replenishable, uniquely exquisite, ubiquitous to the point of being taken for granted- remarkable, yet invisible. Plants connect us directly to the land, grounding us in our understanding of our place on the planet.
Whether stitching, drawing, planting seeds, or harvesting, my hands echo the gestures made by thousands of hands over thousands of years and I feel connected to the lineage of people working with textiles, plants, and the land. Stitching, like horticulture, can be functional– a technical solution to join materials/a means of survival– or both can be done purely in service of the soul, lifting the spirit through beauty and wonder.
Laura McLaughlin – Writer – Winter 2020
I am a ghostwriter and fiction editor living in New Paltz, NY. I have also had my own poetry and short stories published all over the world. My writing process relies on a long-fostered relationship and communication with the plant and animal kingdoms.
Joanne Yun – Visual Artist – Spring 2020
I am a writer and artist based in New York City. I work with flowers primarily as a botanical illustrator, sometimes as a practitioner of ikebana. Inherent in my work is always the tension of working with subjects that are fading with each moment, yet whose beauty fills me with a unique sense of meditative joy. My hope is that when people see my art, they feel the same exultation and recognition that I feel when I work with the subjects in real life.
Ellyn Gaydos – Writer – Winter 2021
Ellyn Gaydos is a non-fiction writer whose first book, Pig Years, came out in 2022. She works on a small vegetable farm in New York.
Matthew López-Jensen – Visual Artist – Spring 2021
Engaging people with local landscapes is one way to make the world a better place. When people feel connected, when they have a pathway to exhibit care, they become stewards, and the world changes. Each one of my varied projects is connected by the same sentiment: people make places better. My interdisciplinary approach to art making is not accidental. I adapt my process and mediums to best suit the site, scenario, and potentials of a place.
Lukas Milanak – Visual Artist – Summer 2021
In the last hundred years, capitalism has revealed the evolution of technology from a means of production into a means of destruction. The threat of excessive waste, mass extinctions and a weakening connection to our landscape motivate me to create artifacts that preserve and illustrate the natural phenomena we take for granted as we build a post-natural society. Taking inspiration from DIY resourcefulness and alchemical study, my work transforms 21st century materials into future relics that mimic today’s environmental systems. I often use display mechanisms from the Victorian era such as the bell jar, reliquary and oil lantern to connect these artifacts of a not-so-distant time to a sense of nostalgia for a pre-industrial world. Each work serves as a poetic reminder of what we stand to lose as we slip deeper into the anthropocene era. They personify nature and distill sensory experiences, like walking through a field of fireflies, listening to cicadas and the warm light of the sunset, into romanticized objects. Ultimately, these pieces fall short of their natural counterparts, but point to the importance of preserving the wonders we have before they are gone..
Walter Smelt Writer – Writer – Winter 2021
In my poems and essays, I try to access what Geoffrey Hill called “the hidden intelligence of the language itself” to knit together what we too often think of as separate: humans and the more-than-human world of nature; the present and history; the present and the future; each “one” of us. Words are soft tools, but they’re subtle ones, and I take an unseemly amount of joy in pushing them together into new combinations, to see what they’ll think of next.
Julia Forrest – Visual Artist – Fall 2021
A woman presents herself within the landscape. She turns a mirror towards the viewer, breaking up the solid environment. She interacts with the landscape she wanders in, blending into the background, changing with scale, or holding a part of the landscape itself. The whole image becomes a pictorial illusion and as the photographer, I am in complete control of the composition. In reference to greek mythological stories of goddesses, these women misleadingly appear docile, yet posses a strong power. Without seeing their faces the identity becomes unimportant, the focus being on their performance. The variety of mirrors I use help them blend into their surroundings, the mirror serving as an illusion to show off their power by changing the landscape at will. Using a medium format film camera and no digital manipulation, I create an illusion within the lens. I am inspired by 1890’s Pictoralist photographers and how they create a purely photographic reality in their images. Shooting in black and white, I make a historical reference to this period. I use Infrared film to emphasize the grain and to create a more surreal and distant reality. I challenge the notion of the landscape by referencing what makes a photograph: the women use their mirror to re-frame what I have framed and capture in their mirror like a camera captures in the lens.
Gabriella Boros – Visual Artist – Spring 2022
Gabriella Boros was born in Jerusalem, Israel to Holocaust survivors. Her family immigrated to the US for her father’s studies when she was young.
A graduate of the University of Michigan School of Art, Gabriella has exhibited her woodblock prints nationally and internationally since 1986. She has completed three artist residencies and is a recipient of a State of Illinois Artist Grant. She has been chosen to participate in two fellowships, the Spertus Museum’s Midwest Artist Lab and the Amen Institute’s Artist Week. Her work is included in both private and institutional collections. Her handmade books Esh: Sanctity in Fire, Symbiosis and Eighteen Stones are in the permanent collection of the University of Michigan Libraries Special Collections.
Her themes include the intersection of plants and humans and Judaic commentary. Most of her prints are created as series, with a theme, which she researches and develops into a visual narrative.
Jackie Skrzynski – Visual Artist – Summer 2022
Throughout my career, I have challenged the arbitrary physical and psychological boundaries between humans and nature. In my most recent work, I collapse the perception of interior and exterior space by suggesting similarities between botany and anatomy. My walks through the woods provide inspiration and a sense of connection with a larger natural system. Observing growth, decay and rebirth, I confront my own mortality and the ephemeral quality of life.
These are my “meta-thoughts” when puzzling out the colors of a newly emerged invasive plant or the fleshy vascular structures of a flower petal. I am here, and I am there. I intend to draw and paint what I observe and how it feels to observe it. I depict what I find visually compelling and hope to engage the viewer with color, form and light.
Jadina Lilien – Visual Artist – Fall 2022
With this photography I continue to document between moments of stillness and movement. What we don’t see, the changing time. Inspiration or wild with spirit is what I experienced in the garden beyond.
Kasey Jueds – Writer – Winter 2023
My poems open into intimate encounters with the more-than-human world—rivers, birds, stones—and with a “you” that is not a person, necessarily, but also not not a person: maybe God, maybe an aspect of the self, maybe neither or both. My poems often speak of/to the places that gave birth to me, Wisconsin and Florida, and of the small: weeds by a roadside, hole in the fence a cat slips through. They—my poems—orient themselves toward edges, liminal spaces like the one where field shifts into woods. Where does one body stop? My poems take an interest in becoming, one thing flowing into something else.
Kasey Jueds is the author of two collections of poetry, both from the University of Pittsburgh Press: Keeper, which won the 2012 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, and The Thicket. Her work can be found in journals including American Poetry Review, Crazyhorse, Narrative, Beloit Poetry Journal, Ninth Letter, Cincinnati Review, Bennington Review, and Pleiades. She lives in a small town in the mountains of New York State.
Weina Li – Visual Artist – Spring – 2023
Weina Li (b. 1994; lives and works in Brooklyn, New York) uses elements in nature and technology to create immersive, interactive installations, sculptures and video. Li’s work starts from her exploration of nature, expressing her understanding of the world as well as the state of being. Li received a MFA in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in 2022, and a BFA from the Academy of Art University in 2018. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions, You Are The Star, ChaShaMa, New York, NY (2023). The Butterfly of Styx River, Chinatown Soup, New York, NY (2020). A Piece of Red Cloth, 688 Sutter Gallery, San Francisco, CA (2018). Li’s recent residency includes ChaNorth, Pine Plains, NY (2023). Li is the author of You Are The Star published in 2022 at Printed Matter.
Katherine Patterson – Visual Artist – Summer- 2023
Kate is an artist, mother, and educator living in the Adirondacks who seeks out landscapes for pleasure and solace. Inspired by memory, time, and sense of place, her work compares the sensory experience of being somewhere to opposed to seeing it photographically and explores the slippage inherent between the two. She works alternately with plain air painting, drawing on site with a camera obscura and drawing in the studio from photo reference. She then prints her lens based drawings in Cyanotype, creating “slow photographs” as a counter point to the immediate apprehension of a scene through digital means. How does our memory of a place differ when the images are processed and viewed in these different ways?