I'm applying to the Bauhaus Residency in Dessau Germany and I thought I'd share the written portion of the application.
The Mountains and High Plains of Idaho are a far stretch from Dessau, Germany. I grew up on a small farm near extinct volcanoes just on the border of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. My foundations are inextricably linked to the land where I grew up. Rural Idaho is where the past lingers and the future stays just beyond the horizon, where Modernism and Postmodernism ran course side-by-side.
Idaho towns feel old, but not classic; new but not cutting edge. A set of contradictions give our cities a sense of urban planned purgatory. The relatively untouched wilderness of Idaho has given me my foundation. The true great human endeavors of this state have been when people look to the land for direction.
I look to mine within the natural world, without physical reduction, for the purpose of human progression. I look to dive into religious beliefs of the people around me and myself. My work began as a mimicry of the natural world and religious icons but now they are independent natural, and religious objects in their own right.
Seth Emrynt, Bauhaus Proposal:
My time at the Bauhaus residency would be spent by following a method very similar to a project I completed here in Idaho. I made works which represented significant aspects of my home: the Snake River Plain, central mountains, and southeastern volcanic features. I composed a set of design rules and then painted nine pieces which followed these parameters. Each finished work became an icon for the area from where I gleaned inspiration.
I would like to do something similar at the Bauhaus. I would look for possible paradigm shifts within objects of the area including: plants, animals, rock formations, water features, and man-made objects. I would look to isolate and recognise visually striking elements of the physical presence of the Bauhaus and Dessau, Germany and compose paintings which pay homage to what might be under-inspected by the newcomer or long time resident. I would compose a list of rules for the paintings to promote a cohesive body of final work. A goal would be to create works where the viewer familiar with the area and/or the Bauhaus would immediately recognise veins of familiarity in the painting with only abstract representation brought into existence from practices of the Idaho landscape tradition.
The first few days spent at the residency would mostly consist of documentation and the compilation of information gathered by physically exploring the area and specific sites where watershed moments took place. After the first three to four days my focus would transition to hashing out the design rules for the final works and then subsequently painting them.
I expect to make four to six 9”x12” watercolor paintings along with numerous photographs and a handful of landscape studies and sketches. I come from a western landscape tradition and I love the truth in plein air so the final body of work would include painted-on-location studies.
A showcase of my residency would include: pen and graphite sketches, watercolor plein air, photographs, found object, and the final watercolor paintings which culminated from my experience, and the set of rules I composed; I would consider these as an actual work to be included, and not just a guide.
In regard to the foundation’s topic of standards: first I think of artistic integrity standards. I think of rules and regulations set up by government and society. I also think of visual standards; not just a guide of written rules or non verbal understanding but a standard for the purpose of uniting people. A combination of homogeneity and individuality. I believe following a set of standards in art as well as in other parts of life can offer a greater platform for when one chooses to deviate. Like in my proposed project: I would compile a list of rules to give a consistent base and linking factor. These rules would then provide a chance for greater impact for the actual differences between each 9”x12” watercolor painting. Standards are often seen as restrictions or a damper on creativity; but they can also easily be recognized and seen as a framework, template, or puzzle to employ or solve. That’s what I’d like to do at the Bauhaus; solve the framework set into place by myself and outside forces in order to make new visual standards.
Some of my most pivotal and successful work was born out of restrictions and limitations on the creative process.
The Birth of Antlerhorn shown above: a painting born out of self imposed restrictions as well as physical limitations quickly became one of my favorite pieces precisely because of the road blocks I met along the way.
I began with a list of rules I wanted to follow:
I didn't want to start over again. I decided I would continue with the painting and tackle the the lack of richer areas and crisp edges at the end.
Once most of the painting was complete I turned to my pens. I used a felt tip pen on watercolor before but in The Birth of Antlerhorn I took it a couple steps further. Pen became the single biggest definer of edge and many values were taken significantly further. I saw stark contrast of the black line as a compliment to the rough edges of bone fragments and batholiths of Central Idaho. Instead of being a minor medium like in paintings before, pen became a major visual producer.
In the end, The Birth of Antlerhorn took on an uncommon look similar yet separate from anything I had completed before largely due to challenges I set for myself and others I met along the way. I'm almost positive it wouldn't be a pivotal work if I had checked my supplies more thoroughly.