2017 Independent Artist-In-Residence

Fall has arrived and the 2017 residency season is coming to a close. This year we have welcomed over 60 artists to the site to participate in our residency programs. Below is a closer look at five artists who attended the Independent Artist program this year. 


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Vivien Abrams Collens is a mid-career abstract artist whose current practice includes site-specific installation, sculpture, and painting. She recently completed a sculpture for the Cary Hill Sculpture Park in Salem, NY and is currently working on enlarging one of her Froebel's Gift sculptures into a 16-foot painted aluminum work for a Sculpture for New Orleans commission. 

Her early works were geometric shaped constructed paintings and multipart relief painting installations. They were widely shown in NYC and elsewhere in the 70s and 80s and are displayed in museum and corporate collections. Marrying late, she retreated from the art world to focus on raising her family. In 2015, she re-emerged from this period with a solo exhibition at the Rockefeller Center headquarters of Gensler, which included her first freestanding sculptures along with her Urban Studies paintings. Collens then began to develop larger sculptures with an architectural focus that led her to a dialogue with the environment and public sculpture.

For more on Vivien's work, www.viviencollens.com

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Michèle Sennesael was born in Ghent, Belgium, 1974. After completing her studies as a photographer and earning a bachelor of Communication and Media, she worked eight years in Belgium, France, The Netherlands, and Spain as an IT specialist for Volvo Europa Trucks. The need to follow her passion for the arts forced her to quit this career to start work as photo editor for the biggest Belgian newspaper. In 2010, the earthquake in Haiti inspired her to give up this steady job to run photography workshops for street kids in Nicaragua. Between 2011 and 2014, she traveled frequently to Nicaragua and founded the Heroes project: a program devoted to documenting the everyday life of street children (Heroes) and poor families (Stories of Love, Faith, and Courage). It was created to fund a local organization ‘Las Hormiguitas’ in Nicaragua. She shared this project in Belgium by organizing lectures and exhibitions in public spaces, to raise awareness on social contemporary issues and to discuss a more general thematic. At the end of 2015, Michèle was detained while reporting on a Nicaraguan protest against the construction of a government canal. Her arrest, deportation, and loss of all her photography equipment encouraged her to start over from scratch. She started a new long-term project in 2016 on the evolution of reproductive and maternal health in Central America. The resulting documentary, titled Old Traditions and New Rituals, challenged Michèle to work with new concepts and new media.

For more on Michèle's work, www.michelesennesael.photoshelter.com  

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Jack Howard-Potter works with steel to create large-scale figurative sculptures that convey his interests in human anatomy and movement. His work has been on display throughout the world in outdoor sculpture parks, galleries and public art exhibitions. Howard-Potter grew up in New York City where he was inspired by the public sculpture of Alexander Calder, George Ricky and various performance, dance, and artistic exposure. He
earned a BA in Art History and Sculpture from Union College and has been making and displaying his original sculpture since 1997. 

In 2001 Jack enrolled in anatomy and drawing classes at the Art Students League in New York City to further his skills as a figurative artist and understand how the human form works and moves.  For two years, Jack immersed himself in the human form, sketching five days each week and completing thousands of drawings. It was this practice that gave him the in-depth knowledge of human anatomy that can be seen in his work today. In 2005 Howard-Potter made his largest and most daring sculpture to date, The Muse. Standing 27 feet tall the monumental figure of a female form taking to the sky, made out of almost two thousand pounds of steel covered in a galvanized and powder coated silver skin took 4 months to complete and representing a major success in Mr. Howard-Potter’s career. Jack has permanent and long-term displays in sculpture parks, municipalities and galleries across the country including Marco Island and Coral Springs, Florida; San Antonio, Texas;
Pemberton, New Jersey; Salem, New York; Jackson, Tennessee; Glenwood Springs,
Colorado; Chicago, Illinois and Blaine, Washington.

For more on Jack's work, www.steelstatue.com

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Excerpt from the artist: 

"My SAW Independent Artist Residency was so important to the realization of my monumental sculpture titled Justice.  I have been stalled on this project in my studio due to the lack of space and heavy equipment for about a year.  When I heard that SAW offered artists the opportunity to come and work I immediately asked what kinds of equipment that had.  I was told about the crane and boom truck, welding facilities and metal working tools of all kinds and immediately knew I had to figure out a way to go.  

When I arrived I was greeted by an intern who was spending the summer there.  In no time I was totally comfortable in my room I the main house and had a lay of the land.  The next morning I was up with the sun and spent five glorious days working from dawn to dusk on the project.  They had everything I could have ever needed to complete my work and realize the internal structure for Justice.  I had help from Gary and Zach to operate the boom truck and answer any fabrication questions I had.  All in all it was a fabulous experience, I got all the internal structures finished for this huge piece and can now spend the winter working on the modular pieces in my studio.  The interactions with the staff and interns was interesting and fun.  I spent time watching glass being blown, talking about ceramics, looking at projects that were being realized and installed by the creek. The immersion in the practice of making art and focusing on "how" to do it with all the tools at ones disposal to make it happen was like heaven!  When this piece is finished and on display I will not forget that SAW was the reason it happened."

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Rebecca Darlington is primarily a painter who uses oil sticks and lace to create abstract expressionistic work. She works large and uses wooden panels to support multiple layers and different media, as in encaustic collage in her work. These processes result in colorful and experimental paintings that seek to create beauty in times of social and cultural upheaval.  At SAW she worked to translated her practice into sculptural works that continued the dialogue of her paintings.

For the past three decades, Rebecca has supported herself as a creative director and freelancer. For years, her work conceptualizing advertising campaigns was distinctly separate from her art practice: one was work, the other play. In 2015, after a solo show, she examined reviews identifying the decorative quality of her art and became interested in combining these separate bodies of work. Today decorative pattern infuses both her graphic and artistic worlds. Pattern building remains a consistent structure in both.

For more on Rebecca's work, www.rebeccadarlington.com


Janice Sloan is a New York City based artist who works with themes of decay and impermanence that bring into question the nature of identity and that which identifies. She believes that the process of transformation is perpetual, both internally (the mystery of the unseen) and on the surface (what intermingles with the collective). She asks her viewers to consider: how does the inner and outer processes reconcile one another?  Sexuality, aging, cosmetic surgery, disease, disfigurement…what is beautiful in both the ideal and the inherent? Her work investigates the tension between decay and renewal. In affirms that in order for something new to arise there must be dissolution; of perception, of knowing, of expectation. Janice's work journeys to the border of physical identity to gaze at the internal face, sometimes unrecognizable, sometimes hideous; but pregnant with power.

For more on Janice's work, www.janicesloane.com

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