For my residency project, I was interested in dealing with man’s relationship to food and nature. I believe this is a sacred relationship, one that is increasingly disrespected as the modern world becomes more disconnected from the land. I have always been concerned with humanity’s relationship to food, and after my previous travels in rural and urban Turkey, I became particularly interested in open markets, food displays and Turkey’s agricultural system. The artist in residence program at Babayan seemed to be the perfect opportunity to explore this idea, allow it to develop, and possibly take it in new directions.
After spending a few days getting familiar with ibrahimpaşa, and reflecting more on my concept, I decided the best place to get started was with the small village market, open in ibrahimpaşa square every Friday. It was a wonderful experience sit on my little stool, use a box crate as a table for my paper and watercolors, watch interactions between the villagers as they came and went, buying their weekly supply of produce. And of course…I was always offered a çay and a small handful of fruit while I worked.
Manzara is the Turkish word for view or landscape. On my walks outside of the village, I always found myself quit stunned by the view of Ibrahimpaşa from every direction. So, I began taking my little stool with me on my walks over the bridge and up the hill. I sat with my paper, bag of pens and little watercolor tray, trying to capture as much as I could before my fingers became too cold, or the light faded, or before I was pulled into the nearest house for çay and roasted peanuts.
My first sustained drawing out on the streets of İbrahimpaşa…getting acquainted with my surroundings. There is no better way to do it than to visit the same place for several days, sit in the shade against the houses, watch the tractors drive by, practice my Turkish with locals, and fulfill that uncontrollable desire to capture not only what I see, but everything I feel at that moment.
It had almost been 2 years since my last visit to Kapadokya. I have visited this surreal and almost lunar area of Turkey on 3 previous occassions. Each time as a tourist, but always returning with a wider knowlege and understanding of Turkish culture and language. A tourist experiences the superficial, and even though the desire to see more may be there, it is tough to break down the barrier that exists between visiter and place. There is something about Turkey that is deeply rooted within me, I have known it since my first encounter with the country in 2008. I have returned again and again, and even when I am away, aspects from my life and experiences here emerge in my artwork. I am eager to break down the barrier that exists between Turkey and myself. I no longer want the superficial experience, but long to grow, understand and connect.
So, after living in Istanbul for a year, and returning to the US for another year, I found myself longing to be back in the only other country that has felt like home to me. I applied, and was accepted into my first artist in residence program at the Babyan Culture House in İbrahimpaşa, Kapadokya.
After spending a week back in the dizzying spell of Istanbul, I made my way inland, to the heart of Anatolia. Arriving late at night, I stepped off the bus into rural Turkey, real Turkey. A group of men at the Kahve Hane cliked their çay glasses and stared while I paid the driver and inquired where to find the residency. I am never left disappointed when it comes to Turkish hospitality. For it only took a few questions in my shaky Turkish, and a few looks of feeling lost and bewildered before I was helped with my oversized bag of art materials down the steep cobblestone road to my new home for the following 6 weeks.
There is no greater sleep after travel than sleep in a cave, and no greater feeling than waking up with the clarity of a quiet country. My first day was overwhelmed with beauty, and the endless opportunities of the village, just beckoning my to draw.