THE ART OF EVERYDAY started out as a visual journal of my artist residency at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, and I must say that this experience was truly life-changing. I got to meet different artists from around the globe and I even got to collaborate with some of them. During my residency, I got fascinated by these interesting characters and how they turned their atelier into their temporary homes. (If you are interested to see some of it, just click on open studio and atelier on Categories)
So now, our first AIR (ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE) feature on the Art of Everyday…
Artist: DEX FERNANDEZ http://dexfernandez.blogspot.com/
Residency: VERMONT STUDIO CENTER http://www.vermontstudiocenter.org/
Date: OCT. 23 – DEC 16, 2011
What kind of art do you do?
Mixed media on photo.
How did you apply for your artist residency?
I applied twice, the first time was a half-grant but the second one was a full-grant award. I heard about this residency from a friend.
How did you prepare for it?
They provided the round-trip ticket, studio accommodation and meals for two-months. No stipend for art materials and no pocket money, but it’s all-good! I borrowed some money from my sister and friend for my personal budget. I brought my own art materials and properly packed photos because I don’t do painting on canvas anymore. And yes I brought a sketchbook so I can draw everywhere and whenever I like.
What was your initial reaction upon arriving?
At first I felt scared because it was my first time to travel alone outside the country, I’m not familiar with the airport procedure but it was okay, I approached and asked people on what to do, I’m glad no one ignored me. It was a very long trip, I spent 22hours on the plane, but I didn’t feel bored. Good thing I had my laptop with me and watched lots of films.
The moment I reached JFK airport in the US, I was fascinated by everything. I then went straight to the domestic airport headed to the state of Vermont. When I arrived there, I knew it was going to be good because I know I can work without any distraction.
The next morning, one of the assistant brought me to my working studio, and I said whoa! It was very big and very white, so empty, just one chair, one easel and a table plus good windows where the natural light comes through. I was very excited to start on my work.
Describe to us your environment there?
It’s in the countryside, very green , nice river, people are steady. It was winter, so we spent most of our time inside our studios. We kept working, we were busy, but during lunch and dinner it’s happy time. We have this dining hall where everyone gets to meet, from the VSC officers to the artists and the writers. Noisy but in a good way because everyone is talking, exchanging ideas, and getting to know each other. For me, this is my favorite part of my routine, eating with these artsy people.
Describe to us a regular day during your residency?
7 to 8am is breakfast, most of the artists skip this meal because it’s hard for them to wake up early, but not me because my bodyclock changed here. I always wake up on time maybe because I’m excited to do things as early as I can. Then after breakfast, I work in my studio and do whatever I want. Oh we got free wifi, so sometimes I check my FB first then tune in to online radio for good vibes.
Then before you know it, it’s time for lunch. It is here that I meet 50+ artists and writers, this is the only time we get to talk randomly. I really miss this part, everyone is a first-timer, so each of us is seeking and looking for a friend. Sometimes I feel like I’m in the “Big Brother” house, the artists edition, but here there are no rules, just good fellowship.
Can you share with us your process before, during and after the creation…
I already have printed materials of random images but I didn’t have any solid concept at first but later on I thought, why not paint my personal experience here.
These images represents me and my experiences, like for example the piece entitled “730” its about my everyday routine where it’s automatic for me to wake up at 7:30 every morning without an alarmclock. It’s weird but it always happen to me.
This piece entitled “I feel lonely here” where Lynyrd Paras is my model also pertains to me. I can’t deny that the first week of my residency was very lonely because I’m away from my family and friends. I didn’t have friends yet at that time, so I was always by myself.
So, I made this “ephemeral” piece, the loneliness of being away from home was just temporary because later on I found this group of friends naturally.
How were you inspired by the people you’ve met and the place itself?
White people are very open-minded, they respect everything, they listen to whatever you have to say, and they have an opinion about it. They love conversation and exchanging of ideas. Most of them are liberated and straight-forward, and I really like that because they have inspired and taught me a lot.
My solo show was held last December 16 which was the last day of my program. I painted a mural in the gallery wall and hung my finished artworks, I think it turned out good.
What did you discover about yourself during the whole stay?
I think I became more open-minded, I developed a sense of respect for everything, and I also got to practice my English! For the first time in my life, I spoke English for two months and I liked it. Sometimes I use funny words but they didn’t laugh about it, they understood everything I said, hehe. Everyone in this batch had common sense, so it was all good!
How has your artist residency helped you as an artist?
I learned how to deal with other people especially foreigners, I learned how to stand on my own feet and the most important thing, I became mature in so many ways.
Has your art in any way evolved after the experience?
Yes, it evolved ‘coz I learned new techniques by hanging out at other artist’s studios. I also learned not to restrict my work.
What are your plans now for yourself and for your art?
Hmm. I don’t have any plans right now, but I wanna do solo shows again here in the Philippines.
And then disappear.