Catdroool Blog

Time To Pack

January 26, 2023

What does one pack for a month long artist residency?

I leave in less than a week for Puebla and it's time to start packing! What does one bring to Mexico for 1 month where they will be making art every day? My residency provides facilities, studios, and some equipment, but I am responsible for bringing or purchasing all of my materials. Naturally, I want to bring a little of everything, but I'll pare it down once I see how it all fits (or doesn't) in my suitcase.

I've been thinking about packing in 4 different categories: clothing, art supplies, lifestyle, and self care.

Clothing

There is a laundromat nearby where I'll probably do my laundry once a week. I'm planning to bring enough clothes for 8-9 days knowing that. I've never been to Puebla, but it has a similar climate to Mexico City, where I have been several times. The temperature doesn't change much throughout the year, but in one day, there could be a 30º temperature difference. It's really important to have layers on hand for this reason.

Art Supplies

My residency is not limited to any medium, and neither is my art. It takes on different shapes and mediums all the time. Above all else, I do love to draw. I'm planning to bring a lot of different sized sketchbooks, and all sorts of drawing utensils: pens, pencils, markers, crayons, pastels, and colored pencils. I'm also bringing a watercolor set, some brushes, and watercolor paper. I've recently loved making art with cut paper, so I'm bringing some of my colored paper and X-Acto + swivel knives. My project I'm hoping to work on deals with the topic of clothing, so I'd be remiss to not bring a few articles of clothing that could become art pieces. There is a printmaking studio at the facility in Puebla. I'm not planning to bring any of my printmaking supplies or inks, but purchase those in Mexico if I decide I want to focus on printmaking.

Lifestyle

Aside from art supplies, I'll be bringing some cameras, my computer, iPad, and other digital tools I use day to day. I'm planning to bring a yoga mat so I can prioritize some exercise and stretching every day. I have a couple books packed that relate to my project topic, and a couple small art books that inspire me. I'm also bringing necessities such as: medicines, toiletries, etc. I've been getting into a great skincare routine over the past couple months, so I'm hoping to keep that up and be sure to wear lots of sunscreen when I'm there.

Self Care

Since I'll be away from home for 5 weeks without my partner, cats, friends, etc. it's important to me to bring some items for self care and comfort. To remind me of home, I'm going to bring a couple nice photos of my partner and I and our cats. Phone pictures don't compare to having real ones in your space. I'm planning to bring some ginger chews and other things to soothe any stomach stuff that comes up. I'm bringing a small bottle of lavender essential oil to use at night to help me sleep, and some room spray, since candles and incense are not allowed. Smell is a really important sense to me, and can really help me feel at home.

This weekend I'll learn if all of this actually fits in my suitcase. Fingers crossed!

What If?

January 23, 2023

9 days until I leave for Puebla

It's January 23, and I leave for Puebla, Mexico in 9 days to do a month-long artist residency with an organization called Arquetopia. I've known about this residency since early summer, and the time has finally arrived. It feels surreal. I truly don't know what to expect and haven't had much time to prepare. I'm going into this experience authentically with an open mind and open heart, ready to receive what is given to me, and ready to pour myself into the art.

A bit about the residency: In Puebla, I will be working on a self-guided project exploring themes of identity, queerness, and trauma alongside the guidance of a mentor. There will be other artists exploring their own projects at the same time. Each week I will meet with my mentor, do assigned readings, and participate in a cultural field trip. I also plan to soak up all that Puebla has to offer in my free time through the art, culture, music, nature, and food. Cannot wait to try some mole poblano!

A lot of feelings come up before I embark on this month long journey – excitement, fear, anxiety, and gratitude. I'm so grateful I gave myself this gift. I'm grateful I said "yes" to my art. I'm so grateful for my family and friends who surround me with support and excitement. Life is truly so short and it's all about making time for the things that matter most to you. It can be hard to do, but it feels so rewarding. I'm so excited to be in Mexico, escaping a month of Chicago's wintertime, surrounded by artists, and doing what I love most– making art.

A lot of anxiety comes up as well as I embark into something so unknown. I used to do this all the time in my early 20s– bouncing from one city, job, and apartment to another. I traveled much farther for much longer time, and didn't blink an eye. Yet something about finding so much stability in my life and uprooting it for a month feels jarring.

A lot of "What if's" come up…
"What if I'm too homesick and can't focus?"
"What if I get creative block and can't draw?"
"What if I can't seem to connect with the project I set out to work on?"
"What if my mentor doesn't like me?"

However, back in May, I asked myself a really important "what if" question:
"What if I went to Mexico for a month, by myself, to focus on my art?"

So after focusing on the negative "What if's" that inevitably come up, I made a new list of "what if's":
"What if I gave myself abundant permission to cherish each individual day in Puebla as is?"
"What if I love spending an indulgent amount of time with myself?"
"What if my project turns out to be more incredible than I could imagine or plan for in this moment?"

This residency comes at a time where I'm in my last year of my 20s, recently married, and recently have left corporate America to work for myself. It feels exceedingly important to invest this time and magic into myself.

Routine

Routine has been really important to me over the past couple years, and is becoming increasingly important with my recent shift to being self-employed. I've never struggled too much with self-discipline, and having a routine allows me to do the things I need to do so that I still have time to do the things I want to do.

My residency is 4 weeks long, which some days sounds like a long time, and other days sounds very short. Arquetopia states in several of their materials that they are much more concerned with residents focusing on process over products. This mindset feels extremely compassionate and welcoming to enter into. Going to design school for 5 years taught me the importance of both, but it feels very inspiring to remove some pressure from the residency and allow myself to explore art freely.