In this panel discussion I sat down with Carolina Porras, Director of Elsewhere Studios, Laura Deutch, a summer resident at Elsewhere Studios, and Dr. Cara Judea Alhadeff, in Paonia, Colorado, where I was also living for several days this summer at the Elsewhere Studios residency with my own family. All three rely on a tight community and relational art practices to make their work. The combination of living or spending a few weeks as a resident in this creative Colorado town with the power of the virtual space, these women find ways to make traveling and relational works as well as write books and participate in performances.
Through discussions involving the importance of relational art practices, alternative lifestyles, and cross-cultural mindsets, we arrive at the conclusion that no matter the lifestyle choice, the difficult artist/mother dilemma remains. How do I let go of guilt and shame around making time for my art practice? How do I flex my creative muscles while my children are ever-present? Cara reflects that her artistic practice is actually all the moments that make up her life – with all its changes in energy and ambiguity throughout the day. Laura discusses how relationship-building fuels her art projects, and how she and her husband often collaborate to create experiences in their Philadelphia, PA community.
In the spirit of community, Carolina discusses the importance of family involvement of Elsewhere Studios, where she is the Director. She recounts the many times that the children attending with their artist parent or parents have presented their own artwork to the residency community, and how it has been received with great enthusiasm. All three panelists agree that the small town of Paonia, CO, while it is not a big art center in the traditional sense, offers so much – support and enthusiasm within the community, reasonable rent and living expenses, and, maybe most importantly, the freedom to explore many different types of media in a welcoming space.
Carolina Porras joined Elsewhere Studios as Program Manager in 2017, after being a resident there two years in a row. She is the co-creator of Piney Wood Atlas, a country-wide artist residency research project conceptualized with another former Elsewhere resident. She is 2018-19 recipient of Alliance of Artist Communities Diversity + Leadership Fellowship.
Laura Deutch is a Philadelphia-based artist, educator, and cultural organizer committed to using media as a tool for social justice, creative expression and community building. Her projects traverse digital and analog mediums to investigate the relationships between people, places and their stories. She currently works as the Education and Production Director at PhillyCAM, serves on the board of Termite TV, and holds an MFA in Film and Media Arts from Temple University.
Dr. Cara Judea Alhadeff is a scholar/activist/artist/mother whose work engages feminist embodied theory, and has been the subject of several documentaries for international public television and film. In addition to critically-acclaimed Zazu Dreams: Between the Scarab and the Dung Beetle, A Cautionary Fable for the Anthropocene Era (EifrigPublishing, 2017), her books include: Viscous Expectations: Justice, Vulnerability, The Ob-scene (PennState UniversityPress, 2014) and Climate Justice Now: Transforming the Anthropocene into The Ecozoic Era (Routledge, 2020 pending).
Biggest art crush: her mom
Dream trip: treehouses in Turkey
Inspiring film or book: 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Favorite meal: white kimchi with persimmons
Shoutout: her mom
Biggest art crush: Vija Celmins
Dream trip: bike across the country
Inspiring film or book: Freddie Mercury tribute concert
Favorite meal: Breakfast burritos
Shoutout: partner, Henry
Biggest art crush: Tyree Guyton (founder of the Heidelberg Project) and Isaiah Zagar
Dream trip: Eastern Europe
Inspiring film or book: Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky
Favorite meal: tacos
Shoutout: best friend, Aggie
To see more of Cara’s work please visit her website.
Images from Cara Judea Alhadeff
Images from Offspring Project- “The Offspring Project is a series of photographs of artists’ children with their parents’ creative work. I grew up as the daughter of a mother painter/installation-artist and father art-historian. I was inspired to begin this project during a meditation retreat during which I experienced a moment of tremendous gratitude for having parents as artists.”
Images from Laura Deutch:
Images from Carolina Porras: