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DUMBO Artist-in-Residence: Char Healey (MFA 2023)

Char Healy, working on the floor.
Installation shot (Anthro-Shift)

For things I create to be any good (or anything at all), they require several things from me and the world around me. First, they demand my time and attention, energy and skill to form themselves into being. Next, they ask to be seen by eyes other than my own, whether in progress by the keen senses of another artist or as a realized, formed thing seen by the curious and enthusiastic. The works demand that I bring them lived experiences as fodder and bunting. They cannot and will not feel alive without this substance. The fortitude of these elements (along with others, unlisted) and my heightened constitution in the studio directly relate to the space and time awarded to me at the NYSS DUMBO Studio and Gallery.

Installation of Some Hours (solo show).
Aidan (L) and Alida (R) 2nd performance in the space.

Because of this opportunity, I could continue uninterrupted with process-building begun during my MFA: including, but not limited to, plaster work, paper-making, and experimenting with new materials such as expanding foam and concrete. Beyond technical exploration, it has lent me perspective on the essential qualities I will look for in spaces I inhabit in the future. Foremost of which is good company. I, perhaps through sheer dumb luck, shared suite 307 with one of my favorite artists and people, Anita Trombetta. We are great friends and have a bond of trust and respect that has grown over the past few years through conversations about art and living. We worked in tandem, feeding off each other’s moods and energy, and had consistent check-ins where we discussed issues within each other’s work without sugar-coating or tip-toeing. With our powers combined, we executed two fantastic group shows in the gallery, Anthro-Shift and In Absentia. One of us took the leadership role in one show, the other taking on extra workload and keeping us within theme and reality. If I had to curate these shows alone, neither would have been as successful. We invited friends to perform in the gallery both to extend the viewership of ongoing exhibitions and to imbue the space with special energy. Our first event was a musical performance by duo Alida and Aidan, who sang Latin folk songs with acoustic guitar and accordion. This beautiful performance and intimate gathering were the perfect way to launch our time there. We invited them back with other musicians and performance artists throughout the year, and it was a pleasure to share our temporary home.

Anthro-Shift opening night.

            As time has progressed at 20 Jay St., I have fallen into a groove. Achieving, with some difficulty, a balance of hours spent in the studio and hours spent at a part-time job. The residency has felt like a soft launch of how I might continue my practice in a ‘real-world’ setting, juggling making ends meet with the true joy and passion of my life. I am grateful for this chance to continue parsing out what I want out of my work, my community, and myself.

Installation shot (In Absentia).

 

Snapshots From NYSS

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