Lenka Konopasek, Adjunct Assistant Professor in Painting and Drawing, with current MFA candidates Etsuko Kato and Josh Graham participated in the Art Dialogue – Interspaces, a tradition of interaction of art professors and emerging student artists from selected art schools in the Gallery of Klatovy / Klenova, in the Czech Republic. The Symposium was a creative meeting of art professors and emerging artists to collaborate on art projects in the inspirational environment of the Granary Gallery, in the Klatovy / Klenova castle and its surroundings. During the symposium the students and their professors participated in multimedia projects, which were composed of installations using video, photography, sculpture, or painting, using local materials. The symposium was accompanied by lectures and videos to inform about current trends in various fields of art. The theme was specifically focused on interspace dialogue not on material processing.
Although I have done a few residencies in the past this one was very different. Lenka, Etsuko and I flew into Prague and then took a train a few hours south to a town on the Czech Germany border called Klenova. It is a very small town nestled around an ancient castle that dates back to the 13th century. The three of us stayed in a villa with approximately 12 other artists and their professors, most of whom were from the area in and around the Czech Republic. It was a wonderfully communal experience to talk, cook, and laugh with so many thoughtful artists from around the world. The experience was creatively fruitful as well. We were given the opportunity to create work which responded to the geographic area we were living in. During my time there I created two works, an earthwork that resides inside the castle as well as an installation in the neighboring gallery. The earthwork represents an attempt to help individuals recalibrate their relationship with nature through the experience of inhabiting a psychologically liberating space. The intervention of this subtle art piece within the context of the Klenova Castle is an attempt to embed an intimate space within a public environment, highlighting the need for self-reflection and communication. The installation within the gallery is a companion piece to the earthwork. It is my hope that by combining the biological and the pedagological that the advancement of self-reflexive learning may occur.
The experience was truly once in a lifetime and I cannot stress enough the role that Lenka played in all of this. Without her connections and guidance this opportunity would not have been available to the graduate students in the MFA program. She deserves a lot of credit.
This International symposium Art Dialog in the Czech Republic gave me some thoughtful experiences. English was a second language for all participants including me, that situation made me realize that “Art” was the common language between us. Two weeks of living a small-town life reset my busy mind and put me back to my starting point (my original idea). If I hadn’t gone outside of the US or Japan, I would never have had this experience.
During the symposium I paid attention with all my heart, mind, and strength, to the participants, the people in the town, their lives, their culture, their stories, their language, the wind, the breeze from the woods, the song from the birds. I was just observing and recording that moment. After the symposium, I discovered that I made some connections with wonderful artists and professors, with words and without words, in Europe. I also received a refreshed look at my previous works. For me, this symposium reminded me who I am. This experience will help me when I need to go back to the starting point of my art.
The symposium took place September 18-29, 2018, with the exhibition running until October 31, 2018.
Photos courtesy of Lenka Konapasek, Josh Graham, and Etsuko Kato