My last night in Ibrahimpaşa was concluded with an open studio. After spending most of the day cleaning and packing, my drawings were displayed and I laid out plenty of cookies and juice for my guests. The show in Goreme had been successful and enjoyable, but I was looking forward to sharing my project with the town that had been my home for 6 weeks, and had given me so much inspiration.
At 4pm, I welcomed the women to my cave studio. Ibrahimpaşa is a gender segregated community, and in order to respect this way of living, separate times were arranged for men and women to visit the space. The girls arrived in one large group. I had spent a lot of time in their homes, helping with food or drawing their portraits, and I was so happy to welcome them into my space and show how grateful I was to know them. The room was filled with laughter and a sweet, gentle air as we passed drawings around and skyped with my parents in Wyoming (who wanted to see the show and meet my new friends.) I kissed all the girls as they left, promising that they would be dearly missed.
The woman had gone and for about 5 minutes we were left with an empty studio, until the men arrived lead by Kuş Mehmet (or Bird Mehmet). Kuş runs the local store, I had drawn his portrait many times, sat in his store eating tost, and worked in his garden with his wife, daughters and grand children. He is the town’s center of news and networking, and knew every drawing I had made for he would ask to see them everyday as I walked by his store. Kuş explained all of my drawings while I stood back and listened, noticing and smiling at the sudden change of energy. The room was no longer filled with feminine presence, but leather jackets, tennis shoes, and the clinking of spoons in tea glasses.
I called my family again on skype so that they could meet the men of the town. My dad compared notes about gardening with the locals as I translated in Turkish, and I suddenly realized how surreal and wonderful the moment was.
The open studio lingered on for several more hours while we drank çay, ate sweets and haggled about the price of drawings. I wasn’t expecting to sell much of my work, as I had only sold one piece from the show in Goreme and I was happy just to display and talk about the drawings. However, to my surprise, there were a few interested buyers. Turkish culture is well known for haggling about the price of anything, pazarlik as they call it. So, I found myself bargaining on the price of my drawings in a foreign language as eager eyes shot between myself and the buyer. When at last the prices were settled, drawings were signed, hands were shook and a few small pieces given away as gifts. I have found myself bargaining on many occasions in Turkey, but this was the first time I was on the side of selling. At the end of the night I had pulled down 7 drawings from the wall, sad to see them go, but happy they would be staying in Kapadokya.
By 9pm I realized that I hadn’t eaten dinner. So, after the crowd departed, I headed to Kuş Mehmet’s shop for one last tost, sitting in the back as I always did, eating while drawing my last village portrait.
Thank you to Willemijn and Paul at Babayan Culture House, all of the Ibrahimpaşa villagers, and everyone I met in Kapadokya this summer…it has been an irreplaceable experience!