You LIVE here?
If you came to September's First Friday at the Harrison Center for the Arts in the Old Northside and stopped by the studio right beside the gymnasium, you may have been one of the numerous people who toured my studio, saw a pull out couch and an Eno hammock hanging from the rafters and asked, "Do you take naps here?" I replied, "I actually live here. This is my apartment." My response was met with confused faces. "You LIVE here?"
I do. I sleep here, and cook my meals here, and paint here too. I don't just have a big bed in my studio to take naps on when the painting has been too rigorous and I need a siesta. Although, not a bad idea for future reference. I live in one of the three studio apartments in the Harrison Center for the Arts. I just moved in a few weeks ago and the space feels like home already. My work space and my living space co-inhabit one room. At the back there is a closet space and a bathroom with a big sink where I try not to brush my teeth over dirty dishes, because there isn't a kitchen. This fun facet of the space actually fosters more creativity when it comes to meal time. Only so much can fit in a mini fridge, and mini-George Foreman and I have become fast friends (I like fun-sized appliances, if you can't tell.) Have no fear, I am well fed with nutritious goodness each day, and even popcorn can be made in a rice-cooker if you are patient enough.
I love this living space for more reasons than those particular quirks. Living and working in the same place enables endless accessibility to my creating. I no longer have to plan ahead, pack my things, foretell my hunger, travel to a different place, or occasionally forget things I need. Everything I could need or want is all at my finger tips, or just a few steps - or rolls of my rolly-chair wheels- away. Everything I own I purchased because it inspires me in some way, and I no longer have to decide which things should go in my home and which would add life to my studio space. The type of space in which I reside and create has always been important to me. I must be inspired by it, but I also need room to breathe. Some might say that being right in the midst of your work sounds awful. How do you ever get away from it? I've thought about this too, and intentionally established a physical separation between my creating place and my living and resting place. Mentally, I needed that distinction so that I could truly rest when I needed to, despite the appeal of accessibility, I do not want to be constantly drowning in untamed creative juices.
My favorite aspect of a living/work space is that I can always be, whatever I am. If I just woke up and want to get something down on paper while I eat my bowl of cereal, or if I am an emotional mess as I process something that deeply impacted me, there's total freedom to be what I am. The fact that I am creating in such a comfortable, safe environment allows for an honesty in my work that I really value.
In sharing a studio space over the summer while living elsewhere, and then making the transition to living in the building and inside my studio itself, I have immense respect for both situations. I'm quickly realizing that the Harrison Center offers an amazing community of artists like none I have found elsewhere. I am surrounded by people I can learn from, share with, and work alongside. I have a safe place to ask myself hard questions, to be challenged, to grow and be stretched in countless ways. The community I have found here in Indy feels more like family than neighbors. I have already learned so much, everything from basic survival skills to truly valuable life lessons. I am incredibly thankful to call my one room studio apartment here at the Harrison Center "home."