Artists at The Haven

 

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For the better part of a year now, The Haven has provided shelter for visual artists Victoria Long, Chicho Lorenzo, and Liz Kleberg. During their time here, each has engaged with The Haven’s community in creative, compassionate, individual, and inspiring ways. For example, one Wednesday morning I walked into the dining room an hour after breakfast had ended and found Victoria in the brightly lit sunroom sitting with a couple guests at a table covered in drawing paper and different types of brushes. The group was working on a beautiful collaboration, a collage of visions that seemed diverse, immediate, and somehow unified all at once. Here are a couple quick snapshots:

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The atmosphere around them as they worked was calm, intent, and positive.  The room, normally used for meals and a place to organize one’s  belongings, had been transformed into an interactive space. While I watched them work, a few others gathered. We discussed what they were doing and how we each interpreted the images. Many different narratives, concepts, and philosophies were considered.  With a few simple art supplies and someone with an intentional project, community had been created.

Victoria and Liz were kind enough to answer a few question about making art at The Haven:

 

 

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An Interview with Artist-in-Residence Victoria Long

1. What drew you to this residency?

I was drawn to the Haven residency because it offered artists both a beautiful sunlit studio to make their own artwork and the opportunity to engage in art activities with the guests. I believe art can be a catalyst for community-building, so I was especially interested in how that could take place in a meaningful way at the Haven.

2. What has been meaningful to you during your time here?

There has been so much for me that has been meaningful during my residency. First, meeting the guests and getting to know them little by little since September has made me feel more connected to Charlottesville at large. For example, when I see a guest from Haven elsewhere in town, I can stop to say hello instead of walking by as if we are strangers. But also it has helped me see the issues that we as a whole community are facing, like affordable housing, more clearly. Second, interacting with the other artists who use the studio as well as the Haven staff and the New City Arts staff has been inspiring and fun.

3. What has been challenging?

I think the most challenging part for me was actually starting my art activities with the Haven guests. I wanted to spend the first part of my residency volunteering in the kitchen or at the welcome desk to get to know people before I tried to start art activities with guests at the Haven. But I felt so shy that it was hard for me to ever feel like I was ready! I finally did, though, and now I hold a weekly collaborative drawing activity for two hours on Wednesday mornings. I tape a big piece of paper to a table in the sunroom, bring out black ink and bamboo brushes, and invite guests to draw together. The drawing is a pretext for gathering strangers together and then hopefully those social interactions bleed into everyday life. A common remark that people make when they first approach the table is “I’m no artist” but once they actually pick up a brush, I noticed that those remarks tend to vanish and people just focus on the act of drawing itself. The first time I organized this activity, a guest named M drew for almost an hour. He was initially wary of participating, but once he got going, he would periodically exclaim that it was really relaxing for him and put his mind at ease.

 

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An Interview with Artist-in-Residence Liz Kleberg

1. What drew you to this residency?

I was drawn to the residency at the Haven by it’s community-centered spirit.  I loved the idea of physically being downtown in the midst of all types of activities within the city.  The Haven functions within this atmosphere as a vibrant hub of activity as well, involving all types of people serving different purposes, intended for the good of the city and its people.  Being an artist in this environment is stimulating and exciting, challenging the artistic tendency to withdraw and isolate.  I am motivated by the energy the Haven generates, and the spirit of community that it fosters. 

 

 2. What has been meaningful to you during your time here?
I have enjoyed volunteering in the kitchen as part of my role as artist-in-residence.  It has been great to interact with guests on a regular weekly basis, and to create friendships that are enforced as the physical space is shared.  It is exciting to tell others that I have a studio at the Haven because it changes people’s expectations about the Haven’s role in the surrounding community, and it generates curiosity.  
3. What has been challenging?
It has been challenging at times to maintain a practice that is mostly private, while being intentional about interacting with others sharing the Haven’s space.  At times I struggle balancing focused studio work with the desire to build relationships with others– staff, guests, and volunteers.  It is a good problem to have, however, because the Haven is constantly buzzing with life
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