When fellows leave the grounds of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts after their residency, they are greeted by this reminder:
One really feels they are crossing the boundary between two distinct ways of being, simply by driving through this gate. It is an hour drive between VCCA and Charlottesville, Virginia. I purposefully kept my radio off, driving in silence to be with my thoughts and the lush southern countryside.
My residency was an opportunity to be with myself and my creative work for a time, unfettered by the concerns of the “real world.” After a few days in this creatively generative space, I found myself able to begin allowing new thoughts in. Though my residency was only 9 days, I was able to sketch out the beginnings of 7 new solo piano pieces. These works are far from finished, but I feel they are good beginnings. It was exciting to be in a position of creative generation again, after spending so many years on finishing up my last project.
If nothing else, my time at VCCA reminded me of the contours of a creative life. I don’t believe the sign at the boundary between these two places is meant to instill dread. Rather, I believe its purpose is to remind leaving fellows that it is their duty to keep one foot firmly planted in the practice they developed while in residency. There is no greater gift one can give themselves than to be generous with their work, or with those around them.
As I navigate the year ahead, I am excited to put this theory into practice. My residency has opened me up to allow new creative influences into my life. I will be heading off to Spain soon, collecting inspiration for new creative work. I don’t know the shape of this new work yet, but I feel I am able to receive whatever the universe is willing to share with me.