Lazuli Residency is magical.
Being not much of a believer of places of good, I surprise myself when that word comes out of my mouth when I describe the two weeks I spent as Artist-In-Residence at Lazuli Residency. I answered to their call for POC, women artists and stalked them on Instagram for weeks trying to understand what was Vermont and Lazuli Residency.
I have the tendency to over research places. At times, I have memorized how to navigate streets from memory before I go to a place thanks to google street. This tendency stems from my weekly crossings of the border bridge between Mexico and Texas. My mother and I would cross-over to visit my father and brother. At that time, immigration policy changes had separated our family and for two years we managed to stay in touch with each other in this way.
So, the anxiety is real when I enter new spaces. More so, when I travel to a place where my brown skin stands out vividly in the crowd. For my trip to Vermont, I went through streets, stores, hotels, the city's history, police reports; I went through it all. Many times my over compensation to feel safe has been viewed by others as too much, an oversight of the real dangers faced by women of color when traveling to white spaces. It is truly magical when someone gets it because they have experienced it. Kenya Lazuli is a woman of color and artist working in Corinth, Vermont with the idea of inviting artist of color to experience the beautiful landscape that often times is only accessible to white people. Her, along with her family, Seth and Satie, have build the infrastructure of a place where artists come together during the summer to feel present.
And, it did not stop there. The magic kept happening when I got a crash course of sustainability, a topic of research I had just started back in Texas. I ate vegetarian meals and learned how to maintain a home by thinking about my own daily consumption and how it affects the earth. I worked on their lake, forest, fields and streams thinking about my own connection to place. Conversations around the table included topics of race, gender and sustainability. Such topics had been covered and heavily discussed in graduate school, but at Lazuli Residency it was not theory, but practice. In times when institutions incorporate these much necessary conversations, we need more of practice of concrete actions and examples.
When I think of my time at Lazuli, my mind keeps going to Sarah Shulman on how institutions have absorbed the radical ideas of change through public and institutional programing only to homogenize them to their agenda. When trying to figure out the endless list of residencies, the possibilities are astonishing, but few manage to create what Lazuli Residency has done—a community practicing ideas of change.