Osage Arts Community is an artist residency located in Belle, Missouri, run by directors Mark McClane and Tony Hayden. Osage is a growing, ever-changing creative community unique for its location in rural Missouri as well as the variety of working spaces available for residents. Artists can choose to live on the farm on the banks of the Gasconade River, surrounded by forest and wildlife; or in one of the many residences in town. I began my residency in the middle of winter in January 2016 on the recommendation of a former professor, Aaron Fine, who was there working on a book on color theory. Osage invites writers, musicians, and poets, as well as visual artists. Current residents John Dorsey; a poet, and Greg Edmondson; a painter, help to organize events in and beyond Belle that bring new residents there as well as to promote former and current Osage artists.
My studio and living space was located in the gallery space in town, which is a beautiful and well-lit facility, a place almost surprising to find in a town with a population less than 2,000. It is located on the main street, a five minute walk from one end to the other. One unique feature of living in the gallery is the communal kitchen that is connected to the gallery space, which encourages casual interaction between residents and gallery visitors.
I spent most of my time at Osage engaging with the land and the forest, exploring its histories and mythologies, as well as understanding my place within it as someone who is both foreign and familiar. As a Filipino-American who was born in Missouri, my work attempts to reconcile my sense of place and identity. I became interested in the practice of prescribed burning (the practice of using controlled fire to manage and restore grassland habitats) and its trauma to the land, but also the regeneration that occurs. I also started working with camouflage patterns and ideas of assimilation/un-assimilation. These patterns are ubiquitous around Belle since it’s a town with a strong hunting culture.
I will return this fall 2016 to continue my work there and prepare for an upcoming solo show, Do Not Drive Into Smoke, which will incorporate a large-scale photography installation with video and sculpture components. The title comes from highway signs that are commonly seen in areas that are especially prone to burning. The show will explore ideas of visibility and belongingness in relation to the specific sites I worked with in Belle. It will be installed in Osage Arts Community’s gallery space from June through August 2017.