As summer comes to an end, at least as the calendar says, I figured I'd just drop a little update as to what has gone on over the summer, and what is to come in the next few months. It has been a far busier year than I ever expected, and although it kept me from doing some things, it has allowed me to do more work related things than I could have imagined.
The summer started with me working hard to get everything ready for The Photography Master Retreat in Esparon, France. I was pleasantly surprised to even be accepted, so I felt compelled to make sure that I was as prepared as possible. I hope that I didn't in any way ignore some opportunities or people as I was working on getting ready, but it was something new for me, and an opportunity I was determined to make the best of. I'll get into the retreat a little deeper in a bit, but I feel I must stay chronological with this, whether necessary or not!
I also had the pleasure, as May came to an end, to head up to North Carolina for a weekend to visit a former professor and mentor while he was teaching at the Penland School of Crafts. It had been 14 years since we had the chance to sit down together, but it was like we hadn't skipped a beat. The only regret I have is that we only got to spend a day together. However, the day was spent talking about work, looking at one of Neal's portfolios, and going to some galleries around the area. It's refreshing to be able to reconnect with people who made a difference in your life, and this was no exception. It was even more refreshing to be able to talk freely about work, process, and projects. This was by far one of the best things I did all summer, I just hope that we don't wait this long to see each other the next time! If you want some good insight into what it is like having a career as an artist, specifically a photographer, look up Neal Rantoul and explore his blog; it is a treasure of information.
June was spent doing something I wasn't expecting, but became another highlight to the summer. Right before the end of May, I was contacted by one of my friends at the Morris Museum of Art about helping with their summer photography camp that they do in conjunction with the local Boys and Girls Clubs. I was a little hesitant at first, as once it was over I would be leaving, within days, to head to France. Needless to say, saying yes to the opportunity was one of the best decisions I could have made. Although it put me a little out of my comfort zone initially, I quickly started to feel confident in what I was doing and how my part in the program worked. I got to meet some wonderful kids, ranging in ages from 11-14. There is a lot of creativity developing in each and every one of them, and whether they decide to put it into art or not, each one of them made me happy to see what the next generation has to offer. Don't get me wrong, there were moments, but overall I wouldn't have traded it for anything. I hope that I get to do it again next year, as I now have the experience under my belt and know more clearly what it is I can offer.
Fast forward five days after the camp was over and I was on a plane to France! For whatever reason, most likely my perfectionism being out of control, I felt I wasn't prepared enough for what I was getting into. I knew I had to do a presentation at the beginning of the retreat, but felt that I was not fully prepared. What I came to find out was that I probably wasn't the only one. The retreat, however, was a wonderful experience. Beyond getting to meet twelve other amazing photographers/artists, we were immersed in what felt, at least to me, like a one week intensive, graduate level, portfolio review. The "mentors", Martine Fougeron, Lyle Rexer, and Elisabeth Biondi, were amazing! Their help in editing, sequencing, and going over my concept were exactly what I needed. The input from them, my small group, and the rest of the participants allowed me to realize that, not only was my work tight, but was more prepared and ahead of where I thought it was.
After a week in Esparon, I hopped in the car with my roommate from the retreat and headed to Arles to see some of Les Rencontres de la Photographie, an annual festival of photography. Part of me wishes I had spent another night or two there, but I would have missed all the other places I saw, so I can't complain. I will have to go back to Arles some day, though.
Along my way back towards Paris, I stopped in Grenoble, Besancon, and Meaux. All of them were amazing and really deserve their own small blogs. If you are interested in knowing about all of them, please don't hesitate to get in touch and ask! Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, I was in France when they won the World Cup. It was an experience that I hope the United States gets to have one day, but I don't know that we would celebrate it quite as emotionally as the French!
Lastly, as I was getting ready to leave France, I got an email notifying me that I was selected to share space at the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County, in Camden, SC. I will be sharing the space with an amazing painter, Lori Isom. The show will include all the pieces from the portfolio that was finalized while I was in France, so I will get to see part of the year come full circle. Although it is by far the end point to the project, it is definitely a milestone along the journey this project has been over the past year and a half, almost two. I'm glad I'll get to show it first in Camden, as my a good deal of my family will be able to come see it in person while it is up. Needless to say about this, but I have been working on getting this together since I landed back in Augusta!
As this weekend comes up, I'm excited that Arts in the Heart of Augusta will be happening. I'll have two pieces in the third edition of "Ride or Die". It will be just one exhibit around town featuring the work of some amazing artists living in, or from, the greater Augusta area. I'm more excited about this one than I've ever been. It will be amazing!
So, as we roll into fall, although it will still be sweltering hot here for a little longer, I'm enjoying looking back at a productive summer that had so much amazing things to offer. I hope for every one of you that it was just as amazing. I hope that the rest of the year continues to offer opportunities to us all.