For three days and two nights this October, students had access to explore the 60-acre property, which provided ample scenery to inspire artwork with meadows, ancient piñon and juniper forests, gardens, streams, and even a private lake and canoe.
“The entire day was for ourselves, we could go canoeing, make art, go and eat something, and then come back to making art,” said Jessica Fiala. “I learned just really how much I love art. How much I want to keep on doing it.”
She was joined by five other students who applied and were accepted to the residency, including Sally Hong, Jamaica Horner, Avery Wickes, and Eugenia Begay. This was an especially unique opportunity, since it was the first artist-in-resident program offered to high school students at the center. Previously, the center has provided residencies for regional artists, including two DHS art teachers, through a partnership with the Durango Arts Center. Similar to the professional artist experience, the students had to write short essays on how the residency would help them in their future careers as artists, submit pieces of their work, and their resume.
Being able to work on their art for longer than the typical 50-minute class period, was a luxury that the students took full advantage of.
“I could take my time and really get the photo that I wanted. Rather than you know, twenty that were required for class the next day,” said Avery Wickes. “I really learned about myself as an artist, that I enjoy taking my time. I found that I could capture photographs of amazing nature, which is what I focused on.”
Jessica Fiala echoed that experience, saying she purposefully didn’t take any other school work with her to the residency because she wanted to take full advantage of being able to create in the studio without any interruptions from the outside world.
The residency was funded through the Durango Education Foundation’s Michael Crane Memorial Art Fund which helps to enhance education efforts in the fine and performing arts for students of Durango School District 9-R. The goal was for students to deepen their art-making practice, as well as inspire and grow their confidence for creating art.
“At the beginning I was just soaking up all the amazing energy I got from the place, and even the vibrance of the colors affected me. It really brightened how I saw Durango, with all the colors of fall, and it made me come back to school a happier person,” said Avery.
Photos from top to bottom:
"Beautiful Decay" Artwork by Avery Wickes
Artwork by Avery Wickes
Avery Wickes and Eugenia Begay canoeing at Willowtail Springs
Sally Hong, Eugenia Begay, and Avery Wickes working in the studio
Artwork by Sally Hong
"Purple Majesty" Artwork by Jessica Fiala
Students Jessica Fiala, Avery Wickes, Eugenia Begay, and Sally Hong take a moment to relax at Willowtail Springs