Fulbright: One Month In

It always takes time to settle in to a new place. I arrived in Edmonton, Alberta at the beginning of January. Now that I’ve been here over a month, it feels like projects are well underway so I’ll share an update about what all I’m working on so far.

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with letterpress type again, after loving it the one time I learned it at a residency with Johanna Mueller. While University of Alberta classes are currently online due to COVID-19, the art studios have a partial exemption so I’m still able to work in there one or two afternoons a week. I’m in the early stages of making a small letterpress portfolio, and I am so grateful for the awesome print tech, Steven Dixon, who is guiding me along the way.

On my first day on campus, when I picked up keys to my office and got a tour of the facilities, I was so surprised to walk by this office door and see a flier from the Campaign for a New China exhibition that I curated with my students several years ago for Kauffman Museum. I haven’t yet met this faculty member (many of them are working / teaching from home right now) but I hope at some point I’ll hear the story of how this postcard made it to her office door. In any case, it felt like an unexpected warm welcome.

It’s been a joy to have a lot of time to spend reading, and in some cases I’m reading books that have been on my to-read pile for several years. Two colleagues here and I have started a reading and writing group. We’re currently reading together Maria Puig de la Bellacasa’s Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More than Human Worlds, and on the off weeks we circulate our writing to each other for feedback. It’s already been incredibly helpful to get their feedback on the early drafts of a book proposal on listening as artistic practice.

I also structure my days here with a variety of daily practices. One of those is daily walking through this snowy landscape as I seek to listen to/in this place–often by myself but sometimes with others, sometimes through neighborhoods and other times in the river valley, where the river still runs a bit even when it’s -20 degrees.

I’m drawing a lot every day as a form of responsive listening, and working on daily accordion books that will eventually be stitched into a large installation. I haven’t drawn this often, and with this much focus, for many years, and it’s a joy to rediscover certain paths and uncover new ones as well.

Other highlights from this first month have been: conducting studio visits with some of the new MFA students; participating in a pre-defense for a soon-to-graduate MFA student; connecting with faculty members from a variety of departments; learning to navigate Edmonton public transit; making some sound recordings for a possible sound piece; experiencing how the snow shifts in feel and sound as temperatures rise and fall; and just this week, participating in a group walk focused on Indigenous knowledges in this place, Treaty 6 Territory.

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