Lee Oldford Churchill, Canada

Residency Period: Sept 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017


Bio

Born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, Lee began her formal training at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook, NL. In 1998 she transferred to the University of Alberta in Edmonton, majoring first in sculpture, then switching to painting and printmaking. At U of A she earned her BFA with Distinction in 2000 and then went on to earn a M.A. (Art Conservation) and M.A. (Art History) from Queen’s University, Kingston, ON in 2000 and 2006 respectively. She currently resides in Calgary, AB, Canada, where she works as the Paper Conservator at the Glenbow Museum and as an instructor at Wildflower Art Centre, City of Calgary. Her current work utilizes watercolour, pastel, acrylic, pen, and other media.


On-hiatus Proposal Summary

Working full time and parenting, Lee has struggled to maintain her “professional artist” status as designated by Canada Council for the Arts and other public institutions, which also qualifies her to apply for funding to sustain an artist career. She feels trapped in the circle of “not enough work=not enough sales and exposure=not enough money=having to be employed=not enough time=not enough work”.

While making art has been part of who she is, the pressure and stress of “being engaged” with her practice has driven her to the point where she feels her whole life may be happier if she just stopped, if she gave up defining herself as an artist-who-does-other-work-to-support-themselves and embraced being solely an arts-industry-employee.

Through her participation in RFAOH, she wants to give herself permission not to produce art, to ultimately examine if letting go of “being an artist” will make her feel less pressure and stress, and return some joy to this aspect of her life. Her requested residency period overlaps with her son’s school year during which time she may participate in some activities without the guilt of her inner voice screaming ‘if I have any time I should be making art’.

Although she is hesitant to set out too detailed a plan for fear of creating a high pressure situation similar to the one that she is in now as an artist, one of her on-hiatus activities may be taking a class in clay. It is an area that has no association to her past art practice, and she wants to see if she can engage meaningfully with the process of creating, or whether it has become so entwined with stress/anxiety that any attempt to create is a trigger for feelings of failure, anxiety and inadequacy about her self-identification as an artist.

She hopes this hiatus would give her time and clarity to make a decision whether defining herself as an artist is worth it, or if not being an artist is better for her mental health, family life, and relationships. If she decides to return to art, she hopes it would bring fresh inspiration and perspective.


Final Report

My experience as an RFAOH resident has been amazing. It is a cause for ongoing and future reflection that having an external, and thereby legitimizing, force say it was 'ok' not to make art, I let go of an immense amount of stress and gut-wrenching anxiety. I am not entirely comfortable with the idea that I need an outside agency validate my thoughts and actions.

I did the clay class I set out in my proposal and as I hoped it showed me that I am still in love with artmaking and am so very happy when I give myself over to the process. I had thought I would review Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way" as well but I decided (after a few months of seriously avoiding getting it off the shelf) that my reluctance was something I should listen to. If I was dragging my heels, forcing myself to re-read it was against the spirit of my hiatus.

With my mother-in-law passing away and then my father being incredibly ill, my hiatus ended up looking very different than anyone could have thought. I spent a full two months of it away from everything focusing on the people who truly matter rather than immersed in the 'daily grind'. Both the hiatus and these events have drastically altered my perceptions and goals.

I still feel battered and broken. But there's been a release - like when you have a bad tooth and once the dentist fills it you realize how miserable it was and now you're a bit boneless.

I'm on the mend.

I'm human and I have bad habits.

I feel like my hiatus had changed me and that I won't try to shoehorn myself and my work into a mold we don't fit. But I know it is going to take constant vigilence to not fall into anxiety and let it push me into areas I'm not happy with. Whether my hiatus will change the look of my work, I don't know yet. But it will certainly change the spirt behind it.


archives

SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
  12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  
       
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031     
    123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930 
       
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031   
       
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30      
   1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031 
       
   1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728    
       
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031    
       
    123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031
       
  12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930   
       
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031     
    123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930 
       

 

recent comments

On Jun 21 2017, Lee Churchill commented on June 20: If I knew where I wasn't supposed to be, I wouldn't go!! :-P If you've got some idea of how I can be[...]

On Jun 21 2017, co-director (s) commented on June 20: Happy (fairly) big Birthday Lee! (: Twack on, all year! I think it's the matter of what is "everyt[...]

On Jun 12 2017, Lee Churchill commented on June 8: :-) It definitely sounds like a fascinating talk. With the idea of going for an MFA, S's situation[...]

On Jun 9 2017, co-director (m) commented on June 8: I wish we had a recording of Tehching's panel discussion in Venice last month where the convergence [...]

On May 25 2017, co-directors (s) commented on May 8: Family emergency sucks... Hope things are alright with yours![...]


Oct 31 B

On a happier note, I started my clay class. I mentioned in my earlier writing that I’m really not familiar with it as a medium and so wanted to try it.

Always things are multifold.

I am not experienced – back in my undergrad (1996-ish) my intro to sculpture class had a couple projects we did in clay but mostly we played around without much guidance. I haven’t touched it since other than to do very simple projects with my 6-8 year old art classes. The art centre sees me taking this class as professional development (so it’s free!), it gives me the liberty of being a student, and it increases the help I can give my students. Triple win.

So far, I got one ‘flower’ pinch pot made before we left for the funeral and last Friday I took the afternoon and managed to do three projects to catch up on what I missed. A coil ‘bowl-candy dish-thingy,’ a coil Christmas tree; and a slab water pitcher. We’ll see how they turn out. I’m hoping they’ll go into the kiln this week. No photos of any of them yet, it totally slipped my mind at the time. The flower was bisque fired and it’s waiting to be glazed, possibly the most exciting part of the process for me! I love the transformations I see from the matte, pastel pieces that go into the kilns vs. the vibrant shiny works that come out.

I’m finding clay fascinating. It’s such as malleable medium but also not. Figuring how to keep the clay supple and not get cracking is definitely a very different challenge from paint and glues. It’s been a long time since I worked bigger than 5 cm in 3-D, remembering to check all around the piece to make sure the lines and shapes are pleasing is taking concentration.  

I loved that almost four hours passed in the blink of an eye.

I was working in the studio with three people who have worked with clay for decades between them. I loved being able to pick their brains and immediately put their knowledge into practice. A whole body of information, tips, tricks, and suggestions that I have barely touched the surface of. A whole new vocabulary – vitrification, slip, leather hard, wedging, cones… New tools! Pin tools, scrapers, ribs, ribbon tools!  

I felt calm and centred and excited and it was good.

 

Leave a Comment (1)

co-director (m) wrote on Nov 2:

I think co-director (s) will have an affinity for this project. She likes to get into the ceramic studio when she can.

 


Oct 31 A

We arrived back in Alberta last week.

 

img_3756     img_3659img_3698

Being in Corner Brook in Fall made me remember why I still miss the East so desperately. Fall in Alberta is lovely – getting out to see the popular trees and larches turning vibrant yellow, seeing the bales of harvested hay against the big blue sky. But western Newfoundland has the perfect climate for insane colour, warm days and cold nights mean the reds and yellows are neon, their vibrancy cannot be captured in photos.  Calgary is semi-arid and I even miss rain – I went for a walk in the tail end of a hurricane because I had forgotten and remembered how amazing it is to walk in cold rain. All the colours are saturated, everything clean and shiny. The smells are clear and don’t linger.   

It’s Halloween today. My kids are super happy. The oldest is Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes and the younger wanted to be a butterfly – until he saw his brother. Well, then he had to be a butterfly tiger.  

hobbes   img_3786

Of course.

I love that.

I love how their imaginations can turn a t-shirt, tape, and some face paint into the best and wildest things.

I, on the other hand, keep finding myself tired.

Physically, sure but coffee can take care of that. But also soul-tired. A term I heard recently and thought, ‘wow, that’s a perfect descriptor.’ Talking to my GP at my last check-up he told me not to worry, that this was, statistically speaking, the worst decade of my life. Juggling work, home, and kids makes everyone stressed and miserable in their late 30’s and 40’s apparently.

Yeah.

Thanks.

Doesn’t actually make me feel any better.

“This too shall pass” is a great mantra for keeping your s#!t together when your toddler is having a tantrum. Not so much when you’re looking at a large chuck of your lifespan.

 

Leave a Comment (0)