Friday, March 28, 2014

Here we go, love. A journey with Anitra Haendel!

We talked about attending this residency together three years ago after reading Savage Beauty. Here is our spot: Millay Colony, June 2014

Dear Tereza, 

We have a Virtual Residency spot available for you at Millay Colony, either for the June or August residency, depending on your studio needs. Are you interested in attending? 

The requirements for the Virtual Residency is that during your residency month that you work on the proposal as stated in your application, with a stipend provided from the colony to help offset child care costs. You also also required to stay at least 4 days at the colony. The dates and number of days over four that you choose is entirely up to you, I will just need to know in advance your final plans. 

Let me know as soon as possible if you're available. 

All the best, 
Calliope Nicholas


At the Millay Colony, I intend to create an installation using objects, text and images from mine and a fellow artist’s, decade long collaboration. I want to reconnect with Anitra Haendel who was a very close friend, collaborator and fellow artist, and who unfortunately took her life, this year on July 23rd . I want to redefine death, seeing it not as an end, but a point in a continuum. The reason I specifically chose the Millay Colony was because Ani and I planned on attending together, having read and been inspired by, “Savage Beauty,” less than three years ago. I hope to fulfill that promise and continue our over decade long collaboration.

I question time, its linearity, and work with materials that are malleable in order to express transfiguration. Be it postcards, clay, canvas, egg shells, paper, dust on contact paper, salvaged bars of soap, or my grandmother’s bandages that she wraps around her knees daily for her aches and pains cursing my grandfather for making her ride on his motorcycle in the cold Czech winters.  Each item carries a history that I rework and then rewrite.  I erase, sand, paint, reveal, melt of one substance into another, stick, melt again, and perhaps evaporate. In What Remains?,  I paint my grandfather’s portrait in clay on a porcelain cup, fill the cup with water and let it spill, washing my grandfather’s face nearly off. (images 6 &7)  Another example is Mutual Cleanse, where I rub an Oil of Olay bar with a portrait of my great-grandmother on it on my pregnant belly nearly fading her image. (image 10)

I’ve been working with the dead since my cousin’s passing (I never asked how) twenty years ago. Her untimely death in her mid-thirties, was a shock that I could slowly cope with through working with her image, her letters, and her drawings. The small scraps left over.  But the theme of loss comes from much earlier in childhood, as we emigrated from the Czech Republic and left everyone behind not being able to return for 5 years. To an 8 year old, five years equals a lifetime. First it was the objects, the precious mail sent between my grandparents and I. Little remnants of ‘home.’ Upon my return to CZ in my teens and every two years thereafter, I had to acknowledge the continuum, not only my own, but also that of my native land.  Things don’t disappear. They change.

The theme of a continuum past death and now as a parent of before and after birth is what motivates the bulk of my work. I question our physicality. The investigation gets more and more subtle and the material becomes more and more immaterial in its final form. 

I'm reminded of your eagle paintings and Jess's beautiful girls in landscapes. I just need to build the frame of a home around you and take away the ground. 

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