Julia Hill in the Old Pottery Studio

Fellows’ Experiences

Fellow: Abby Goldstein
Residency Dates:  7/29/14 - 8/17/14
Discipline: Visual Arts

Hambidge offered a wonderful work and living environment. It fostered friendly evenings of talk and healthy meals within a creative community. The residency allowed me to combine, rest, work, contemplation, critical analysis, with walks in nature, and lovely swims surrounded by mountains in the nearby pond.  The fellowship at Hambidge afforded me an opportunity to immerse myself in my work without outside stress and to separate completely from the hustle and bustle of every day life; in my case, since I did not bring a computer and access to the internet was limited to the main house, I was able to really unplug, and focus solely on reading, listening, thinking, and making work. I am so grateful to have been a fellow at Hambidge. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet other artists in the various disciplines, to talk about work, share meals, relax and support the frustrations of bad days in the studio and good; To live and work in this very special, nurturing and artistic environment was a wonderful gift.

Hambidge exceeded all my expectations. The architecture, grounds and surrounding area are all beautiful and inviting. Great care was taken by everyone at Hambidge to allow us privacy and make us feel comfortable and taken care of. Even the weather, during the hottest month of August, was lovely. The studio at Brenna, nestled among the trees, was large, airy well equipped with many windows, plentiful working tables, a long open wall space and lots of overhead lights. A comfortable living space made it an ideal place to unwind, work, critique, rest and revive.

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Fellow: Alex Gingrow
Residency Dates: 10/15/13 - 11/17/13
Discipline: Visual Arts

I fully realized a project that I have been thinking about since the beginning of 2013 during my residency at Hambidge and was able to generate an inordinate amount of work. It is an endurance series that will eventually be comprised of 365 drawings. The mental and physical space provided by my studio is what predicated this breakthrough in the series, and the conversations with other residents during dinner and studio visits really helped me to cement my thoughts. I also got more sleep, read more, and spent more time outside than I have in years in my bustling Brooklyn life. I consider these healthy accomplishments as well.

The mental and physical space allowed at Hambidge—the studios, the solitude, the land—are invaluable resources for artists otherwise consumed by the hustle and bustle of every day life. I found space to breathe and to step back and take a look at my work and I found time to think about it and mull it over. Additionally, I was with a group of fellow artists with whom I could talk about ideas and processes and, even though we all worked in different mediums, we could all understand what the other was talking about and could—and did--discuss it at length. I have made lifelong friends and colleagues. I am leaving Hambidge with a substantial body of work that I feel good about—informed and confident in its execution. This has been one of the highlights of my artistic career on all fronts.

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Fellow: Simone Gorrindo
Residency Dates: 9/3/13 - 9/15/13
Discipline: Non-Fiction Writing

I'm still processing my time at Hambidge, but I can say, without a doubt, that it was a transformative two weeks. My husband is in the Army, and when he's away -- which is often -- I get to feeling a bit starved for artistic community in Columbus, GA, where we are stationed. Five weeks into his most recent absence, I am feeling more refreshed and replenished than ever, thanks to Hambidge. The gorgeous natural surroundings, the cozy cabins, the inspiring, kind, down to earth artists who I got to know so well, the incredible staff -- all of these ingredients went into the subtle alchemy that's involved in creation for me. They strengthened my work and my spirit, and I am so grateful for all of it.

I got a lot of work done while I was at Hambidge, but I also learned a ton about abstract visual art, contemporary poetry, and all sorts of topics, including the history of the national park system, the political and religious climate in Cairo, and the best hikes in North Georgia. Meeting and spending time with my fellow residents was perhaps the most enriching part of a deeply rewarding experience. Thank you, Hambidge!

Simone Gorrindo is a writer and editor currently based in Columbus, Georgia, where she lives with her husband, a soldier stationed at Fort Benning with the 75th Ranger Regiment. She is a Contributing Editor at Vela Magazine, and her work has also appeared in Tablet, The Huffington Post, and Matador, among other publications. She holds an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University, and her work was recently included in Byliner’s “102 Spectacular Nonfiction Stories from 2012.”

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Fellow: Katie Fesuk Hartsock
Residency Dates: 8/27/13 - 9/1/13
Discipline: Poet

accomplishments: Spending this time at Hambidge, albeit a shorter amount than most, helped to fulfill two of my main goals for my first residency experience. First, I "renewed" an older manuscript project that has been awaiting my attention for several years; I took out weaker poems, revised stronger ones, added new work that pertained to the collection, and completely re-ordered the piece by theme instead of chronologically. At dinner after sharing our writing, the other Hambidge fellows voted on a fresh title to christen the new piece as it finds its way back into the world. Second, I generated more than a dozen new poems in their entirety and filed or organized four years' worth of notes and scribbles into future projects: a multigenre collection of work honoring my late mother, a young-adult work of fiction based in Georgia, and a series of children's books and poems called "The Gracias Tree."

experience: How to testify? A few random observations and facts: I could not wipe the smile off my face the entire time I was here. Spreading all of my ideas out on the floor without abandon and pinning them to the wall helps me put them together better. Rain on the skylight window in Cove Cottage sounds like heaven. If you step outside of Lucinda's Rock House late enough on a clear enough night, you can see the Milky Way. A good night of rest helps me write more clearly. A good---no--a divine meal (dear goodness Rae) is even more enjoyable in the company of new friends and artists who understand that creating art in whatever form it comes to you is NOT a luxury but a necessity, an urge that cannot be ignored (and when it is, personal disaster may follow). Mary Crovatt Hambidge is a genius, and I would never have read her philosophy if I hadn't come here. It's nice to walk into a screened porch after a long day of work and find people who are excited to see you and want to know what you accomplished and pour you a glass of wine and tell you their own story. I am so glad I encountered neither bears nor snakes--just the occasional millipede or ungodly large spider (blech).

Beyond this, I could not have completed this amount of work at home in my day to day life. It is a blessed life, for sure--one filled with a doting husband and healthy children who say incredible things and now happy work as a teacher that allows me to encourage and be with teenagers and foster a love for words in them. And yet, there is the daily tedium of domesticity, the early mornings and long commutes and traveling husband and laundry and bills and cleaning and... well, life. I count my blessings, as I was raised to do. It's been a difficult few years marked by serious illnesses on my part, loss of work for my husband (followed 6 months later by a great job), doubts about keeping the home we love, the long illness and subsequent death of my mother just three months after my daughter was born, a car accident which I honestly should not have survived and nearly forced us to bankruptcy... each one of these things presented us with a challenge to overcome, and we did so, I hope, with grace and faith. We've been humbled. Life at the moment is very much on the upswing, and writing and publishing is a huge part of that return to life for me. I mention these things not for pity or to list woes, but to help you see that this blessed, uplifting, renewing, artistic, protected experience at Hambidge is part of a larger healing process. It is a luxury I could not have imagined--solitude, peace, quiet, focus, simplicity, community. I was ready to work, ready to receive, ready to write what I've carried around for years, and I got the opportunity to be nestled here in the peace of the mountains and let all that good writing happen. It was cleansing, exciting, healing, and precious.

Now I have the opportunity to return to my home renewed and refortified, invigorated and able to share this experience with my friends, my family, my fellow teachers, my students, and the other poets and writers and artists in my community. I will, as our binder says about leaving, be a publicist for Hambidge. A whole book (!) and the seeds of others happened here, and I have you all to thank. Please oh please have me back someday. You can expect an application from me in the future and any help I can give you from my neck of the woods outside Atlanta. Many deepest thanks.

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Fellow: Bethany Collins
Residency Dates: 5/14/13 - 5/19/13
Discipline: Visual Arts

Thank you for the time, space and crafted experience of a Hambidge residency. My residency involved much more experimentation than finished results. And I left with so many more grounds to explore than when I arrived, which is a lovely place to be.

Actually, my last two nights of residency proved the most rewarding. I finally stumbled upon a simple but, for me, big realization. A new direction for my work. Such a simple idea and yet so hard to come by. And it was absolutely the silence which Hambidge so generously offers which finally fostered this new direction. Thank you, thank you for the time and space and quiet.

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Fellow: Marcy Brenner
Residency Dates: 3/19/13 -3/31/13
Discipline: Literary Non-Fiction Writing

I had never been on writing retreat in residency before, so I had no idea what to expect. I have to say, there is NOTHING negative to say about Hambidge and my experience there. The schedule of meals during the week is perfect, just the right amount of time to establish relationships with fellow residents for support and camaraderie. The selection of the other residents was inspired, the perfect mix. And because we knew each other, when the stretch of no meals together and solitude arrived, we knew each other enough to know we all were there if anyone needed anything, but could sink into the work.

My cabin was perfect in every way. The food prepared by Rae was spectacular. The staff were friendly, responsive, intuitive, compassionate and efficient. The grounds and setting were exquisite.

My Hambidge residency was the single most useful and fruitful artistic experience of my life! It was “art-changing” – I am a better working writer with a 300-page manuscript in the box ready to approach editors and publishers with a piece I’ve been working on for over 10 years. I could not have accomplished this without the support of Hambidge. You are handing out diamonds! One word describes how I feel about my experience: grateful.

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Fellow: Libby Falk Jones
Residency Dates: 2/14/12 - 3/4/12
Discipline: Poetry and Photography

My Hambidge residency was an immensely fruitful experience. I’ve identified several important components of this richly-creative time: 

The welcoming, nurturing environment. This was expressed through language – “honored guest” appeared in several documents – and through the friendly smiles and greetings from staff members, the delicious food, the thoughtful supplying of equipment and living needs in the studio. Even Mr. Big and the dogs always seemed happy to see me! I felt treasured, not peripheral or an imposition. What a difference that makes to the flowering of creativity! Creativity grows from abundance, not scarcity; Hambidge is a place of abundance and appreciation. 

Solitude. I used my time alone to read, write, and do art (photography and brush painting), and to look out my window, think, and dream. Not only did I accomplish a great deal of work on a variety of writing projects, I got new ideas that will fuel my work for the next several months. My residency was a period of incubation: a time when my mind was both focused and relaxed, where I could be receptive to odd ideas coming at unexpected times. A line for a new poem, for instance, or an image for a piece I’d begun previously, might come to me when I was taking notes on an essay on two women artists. Being at Hambidge freed me up from the chaos and noise of organized life – not only was I not interrupted, I knew I wouldn’t be interrupted – so that I could listen to new voices within and without.  

Immersion in nature.
 For artists generally, and for me in particular, nature is an important wellspring of creativity. I loved living with only a thin skin between me and the natural world. The huge windows and skylight in Cove Studio made me feel always within nature. I walked every day, often several different times (and even in the rain!), sometimes with camera but many times not, and I always discovered natural elements new to me. I loved my increasing familiarity with my immediate environment – I was able to notice tiny changes as the weather shifted and spring began to emerge.  Being able to be immediately in nature – tossing on a jacket and just walking out my door, without encountering a primarily-human landscape – was a great joy. What I saw and heard, the language that developed in my body and mind as I walked, found its way into my writing and art.  

The community provided in the evenings was diverse and lively. Our discussions of our particular projects and of art and creativity in general gave me many ideas and opened me to some new approaches, such as researching through art (a/r/tography), investigating subjects through visuals and language (art mapping), and combining music with poetry (collaborating with Martha Bishop, composer, on a song cycle of three of my poems). The studio tours were stimulating through helping me understand particular projects and also the tools and workspaces of various artists. I also appreciated learning about Hambidge’s history and current initiatives through conversations with the director and a board member. Their great interest in residents’ work and residency experiences was evident! 

Time span. I’m very happy I was awarded a three-week residency. Each week was valuable, and each brought about a steady deepening within myself and in my work. On the one hand, the time passed quickly – too quickly! – but on the other, the three weeks seemed like three months. In the few days since I’ve returned home, I’ve seen a continuation of the rich inner life and the attentiveness to the natural world that I developed during the residency.  

Thank you very much for making this important creative experience possible for me.

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Fellow: Gary Eldon Peter
Residency Dates: 7/5/11 - 7/19/11
Discipline: Writing/Fiction

The natural environment of Hambidge was very inspiring to me. To be able to get up each morning, to look out at the woods near the Mellinger Studio, and to begin my work in quiet, was exactly what I needed to push my project further to completion. As someone who takes a very slow and deliberative approach to writing (sometimes to a fault!), I was surprised at how much I was able to accomplish each day, and to be able to see the pages “pile up” was very rewarding for me.

I found the time spent with other residents on the Rock House porch for dinner and conversation to be equally inspiring. We were all curious about each other’s work, and when it came time to share our progress through open studios and readings, supportive of one another’s goals and visions. In that way, I found my residency at Hambidge to be an almost ideal mix of solitude for serious work along with an opportunity to engage with a community of artists eager to discuss their own journeys in creating.