In 2010, my close friend, Cazenovia College Professor Karen Steens, introduced me to natural pigments. She was a two-time Full-bright scholar traveling to Mauritius, Africa and working with populations to merchandise and develop their work. Karen brought back stories and samples of natural dyes and batiks used in the products. At the time I was very interested but caught up in my own work. Fast forward to 2021 Post Covid-Pre Delta. In the last couple weeks I have been waiting with baited breath to hear news that Ireland was opening back up to U.S. Citizens. On July 19th, I was approved for my residency at Cill Rialaig, an enclave of pre-famine refurbished stone houses in SW coastal Ireland sitting dramatically on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic. The residency had been cancelled the year before because of Covid and tentively rescheduled for September 2021. Upon approval, I quickly booked airline tickets and car rentals through my local travel agency. That night I couldn’t sleep (mostly because of excitement and mental to-do lists) and went to the computer to research past residents at Cill Rialaig. I stumbled across 2020 resident, site-responsive visual artist, Kari Cahill (www.karicahill.com) from Sligo, Ireland. She has stellar credentials and co-founded LOTL (Lay of the Land) which supports female emerging artists and large scale environmental installations. For me, the real kicker was her work with BIO colour. Kari has been working with natural ingredients and extenders to produce stunning pigments and inks that are sustainable. By coincidence she was leading a workshop starting the weekend before my residency and had a couple openings left. I quickly mobilized and immediately changed my travel reservations to attend.
I am so looking forward to the information that Kari can provide and have thought consistently about utilizing this knowledge for my process going forward. I just have not had the right info to date. A portion of my work deals with sites that have been affected by conflict, social unrest, economic despair, or oppression. The concept of painting with ingredients from the land synthesizes and completes the visuals. I am now thinking of basing my entire residency on the information I glean from Kari Cahill's workshop. Normally I would pack my supply of paints, tools, etc. Now I think I will pick up everything I need in Ireland except for my favorite paper. This is truly an adventure into uncharted territory that has so much promise. There will be more to this story.