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Residents wrap up special month

Raymond Luczak of Minneapolis is one of five deaf artists and residents living at the Anderson Center in Red Wing for the month of June.
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RED WING — The Anderson Center welcomes temporary residents throughout the year, but for the first time this summer, it offered a month exclusively for deaf artists.

Five artists have spent the month of June using the Center's space to work on their projects. A public reception displaying some of their work will be held Thursday.

"The first few weeks at the Anderson Center have been wonderful," said Lilah Katcher, of Washington, D.C., and Madison, Wis., one of the artists. "It's an amazing experience to not only have the gift of time and space to focus on our work, but to also do this in such good company.

"I am so glad to be part of this historic first deaf artist residency," she said. "This is the first time I have worked at a writing residency, and I feel like it has given me the freedom to focus on my work with fewer distractions and obligations."

Other artists in the residency include Bex Freund, of Berkeley, Calif.; Raymond Luczak, of Minneapolis; Rachel Mazique, of Austin, Texas; and Jeremy Quiroga, of Bellevue, Wash. Cynthia Weitzel, a full-time Anderson Center resident and also a deaf writer, helped set up the historic program.


For Freund, an oil painter, who is crafting her first graphic novel, the solitary environment was just what the doctor ordered to jump start her book.

"The first few weeks have been very productive," she said. "I've been able to finally start the first chapter of my book after years of planning and struggling to improve my process. The first chapter alone has a hundred pages, and as of now I'm at page 25," Freund said. "It's a very slow, painstaking process, but it feels so good just to have started already."

For Luczak, the residency was not just a chance to write and work with other artists, it was also a chance to meet with other deaf people and talk about what it's like to be a deaf artist.

"Given that all five of us are sharing the same house, it's pretty hard to avoid each other," he said. "The ease of accessibility that comes from using ASL makes it very easy for all of us to have deep conversations about our viewpoints on art and the deaf experience. It's truly a wonderful experience that is unfortunately too rare these days.

"If I'd felt honored in having been chosen before, I feel more of it now" Luczak said. "Being in each other's presence is a gift because we each know how rare it is to have such stimulating conversations among deaf artists who understand what being an artist involves, as opposed to having to explain to non-artists the process and the challenges of being an artist."

While many of the artists have used their time in southeastern Minnesota to write, they have also gotten out and toured Red Wing and surrounding areas.

"I've been a hermit and have mostly been confined to my studio, but I've been able to drive around a little with my studio buddy, and what I've seen so far is incredible," Freund said. "I love how big the sky is here. The cloud formations and thunderstorms are unlike anything I've ever seen in California. And so many shades of green! There truly isn't enough green in the cities where I come from."


Related Topics: ART
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