Mary Elizabeth Vance
Mary Elizabeth Vance
Reykjavik, Iceland 2015
I am spending three months in Reykjavik, Iceland, living and working at an artist residency with other artists from around the globe. At SIM, the Association of Icelandic Visual Artists, and Gullkistan in rural Iceland, I will develop a body of interactive artwork that responds to the culture and landscape of Iceland and promotes intercultural dialogue. Read More About Mary Elizabeth →

Spaces of Dialogue

I still find myself occasionally stopping in the middle of the street to marvel at where I am. The brightening skies keep each day feeing new, and slowly new residents are moving into the apartment.

Things come full circle – I was afforded a bit more time to stay at SIM this month and I will have the studio space I had the first month again – with the marvelous view of the harbor, the lighthouse, the spot where I first fell in love with Iceland even in the storms. I never stop being inspired by the endless sway of the sea, slipping from blue to silver as morning burns into afternoon, chaotic on the stormy days, smooth in the calm between them.

I have my last few weeks mapped out here – when I journey into the smaller town to create, shoot videos, when to make the most of the midnight sun, last trips with new friends.

And I am amazed at how people let us know we are where we are supposed to be. For the May show at SIM, I suddenly found myself surrounded by Belmont friends – Sarah Beth and Kelly who graduated the year before me on a layover from mainland Europe, and another new friend John who still has a couple years in Belmont’s art department who I didn’t even know until meeting him here! Iceland is small, the world is just as.

I felt very proud of the video piece I exhibited this month – and it was great compare where I am in terms of my art this month as opposed to last month. Now I have more clarity, more direction for where I want to go creatively, and perhaps a collaboration partner for the last few weeks. The nicer the weather gets, the more I wish I could have even longer to explore this limitless island, with all its flowing edges, glacial peaks, and volcanic craters.

The Reykjavik Arts Festival is beginning to wind down. As I navigate my constant dialogue with the Iceland’s particular landscapes, I have also been thinking a lot about the gallery space as a site for dialogue – in the shows I have exhibited in here and the ones I have attended. These spaces draw together all kinds of people – especially in a small city like Reykjavik – and one finds themselves on occasion talking with people you never expected to meet, or to be affected by your work. I see many of the same faces – more apparently as the months pass – and I see more and more clearly the special opportunity I have been given here. Iceland is not the home of a massive arts scene such as New York or London, but the percentage of creative people here is high, and the output is high quality. Everyone here seems to be involved in some type of creative endeavor, or at least appreciate them, even those with very different job titles. (Speaking of which, did you know that the phone book here features peoples’ professions, and one can write in whatever they wish? There are many astronauts, lion tamers, and merrymakers here.)

Belmont in Iceland!

Belmont in Iceland!

Also, my piece for the last show is too large to upload here, so I will work on getting a link here next time when I have a better internet connection for uploads!

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