Andrea Sisson

Weeks 3-4
Roanoke, Virginia 

Weeks 3-4 for me, have been about finding a new structure amid all this absolute free-time. The free-time has felt surprisingly shocking for me in this second half of the month. Realizing this is not just a small vacation or trip for inspiration, but a full 6 weeks. I found myself, in these weeks, much more introspective. My first two were very energetic - getting materials, exploring the town, planning art-work, but as we settle in, I find myself writing, journalling, and reading a lot more. In my everyday life (normally), I’m used to fighting for my free time. Art-making, diary, and reflection time I have to I sneak into moments between work and obligations. 

I’ve been reading a new book on New Narrative Literature (“Writers Who Love Too Much”) that is enlightening new and exciting ways to think about my own art-word. I’ve also been reading Chris Kraus, “Aliens and Anorexia”. The upstairs media room during the day, has been a great respite to sit and read. 

I’ve been archiving some of my dairy and essays into something I call “The Virginia Pages” - a collection of loose pages printed out of entries or essays written during my time here. In a recent project, I had stacks of pages as part of an installation - for viewers to read at random. Maybe “The Virginia Pages” will turn into something like that as well. I’ve been making small ready-made sculptures that I call “poeticas” - objects put together to make a visual poem. And I’ve been filming. I filmed wind and close up rain on a windshield, and have taken pictures of people around town. 

I’ve also been thinking a lot about my family and upbringing in these two weeks, which has started to become very creatively stimulating. I live in Los Angeles but was raised in Ohio, and lived on the east coast. Maybe its the environment (more akin to Ohio than the west coast), or the free time to be introspective (or both), but something’s leading me to stories of the past. I’m finding now, a lot of the texture and temperature of those memories making its way into my work. I feel like the time for introspection here at this residency is going to be a big part of this experience for me. Having space for flooding thoughts, images and old memories, and time to be surrounded by these things - It feels like a sort of reset or cleans to my practice.

On the third week, the residents took a trip out to the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. It was a nature drive into farms and woods. I suggest anyone coming to the residency to find time for this. To rent a car and see the woods and country-side of Virginia. 

On week 4, The leaves started changing.

I also want to mention one of my favorite places here in Roanoke. Its a thrift store called Disabled American Veterans. To describe this place with words can’t do justice. Its a thrift store with the most colorful of workers and shoppers. The workers call you baby and doll, and all the shoppers talk to each other across the store like they are all the closest neighbors. A thrift store is a place where you can really get a sense of the area. The items for sale are memorabilia and a record of that area and its people, and at this specific store, the people shopping have the same affect. A real Virginia gem. I’ll have to get some pictures for the next blog. 

Taking space
Writing a lot about my work 
Letting time slow down 
Letting myself slow down 
Thinking about my days here
Thinking about what I want to do when I leave here
Leaving space for these things 

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