s another summer turns into fall, Ucross staff and artists are grateful, as always, for the vast natural beauty of the Wyoming High Plains.
It’s true that for a lot of people it wasn’t exactly a dream summer. The ongoing pandemic was still wreaking havoc around the world. Western forest fires have added danger and brought a prolonged smoky haze to our region. Earlier in the summer we had the very unusual visit of a young black bear. The migration of the sucker butterfly was epic, making our daily lives a bit like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. As my colleague Mike Latham put it bluntly, this year if a pterodactyl were to pass by, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Still, Ucross is happy to be open to capacity again (10 artists, writers and composers) and the artists are thrilled to be here. Our residents frequently remind us of the importance of the natural world in their creative work.
Yesterday, I visited the studio of Sunny Kim, a New Yorker from Korea, and she noticed that the Wyoming landscape had crept into her paintings. Al Denyer, a visual artist from Utah and born in England, told us: I spent my time here working with the doors wide open, listening to the babbling of the stream, the songs of the birds and the breezes that swept through. mix. The place, the people and the scenery here come together to create something special and truly magical.
Nestled at the confluence of three Piney, Coal and Clear Ucross creeks is home to abundant wildlife that artists often encounter. A writer, Shea Sweeney from Los Angeles, was inspired to draw some of our local animals, including an art snake, based on a rattlesnake seen near the studios. (Her snake said, it’s all about process-sssss!)
Another writer, P. Carl of Providence, Rhode Island, has been visited regularly by a great horned owl. Carl is also an amazing bird photographer and he estimated that he saw 37 different species during his stay. He wrote: After a year and a half of isolation and distraction from the pandemic, Ucross has allowed me to return to this writing space with focus, purpose and time.
I left with a good start for my next book and new friends that I was able to meet in person not on Zoom. I reveled in the joy of being in the company of other live artists.
It is an honor to work close to the creative brilliance of these artists. Yesterday I looked out of my office window and saw dancer / choreographer Stephanie Sleeper filmed on the lawn by producer / director Liz Sargent. They created in collaboration with Eiko Otake, an acclaimed performance artist, who was born and raised in Japan and lived in New York City for almost 50 years. The group was there thanks to our partnership with UCLAs Center for the Art of Performance.
Eiko will perform at dawn and dusk on September 11 in New York City at Belvedere Plaza, just west of where the Twin Towers once stood. We salute Eiko, her collaborators and all the courageous artists of Ucross who have chosen to devote their lives to creative work.
Sharon dynak is president of the Ucross Foundation.
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