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Artist in Residence - Sonya Darrow






Dobrý den from the Mill!


Before I discuss my projects, I want to introduce a bit of my art practice. I’m an Artist-Teacher, heirloom caretaker and community organizer.  I connect my practice to a folk tradition; use objects from your immediate environment as the main material for expression.  The objects I use range from debris on the ground to towels donated as an expression of one's Babi (Czech Grandmother).  The core of the my art practice is collaboration within communities to start a dialogue on Czech culture and the importance of heritage. My art is used as a tool to start this discussion and provide educational outreach.  The pieces I create are used in my everyday life; continuing the tradition of folk art - rhythm of life.



(319)Czech is a folk name that I gave to my art practice.  The folk name connects to a particular Czech community that I grew up in.  It refers to the area code of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This particular community had the largest population of Czech immigrants in the United States.  It is home to the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library.  I use (319)Czech as a tool to start dialogue about local history and culture; creating cross-cultural explorations of identity that go beyond whether you’re Czech or Slovak.  I will continue (319)Czech at ArtMill through different outlets across the Southern Bohemian region and throughout the Czech Republic.



The other part of my art practice is about sustainability - on being a practicing artist.  I create opportunities for other artists in the form of a residency program or by creating a job in an organization.  I have worked with Goodwill regions across America to create a residency program that impacts their mission.  This has been a 5 year project, started in the Heartland of Iowa.  I build these projects to be sustainable, so that the artist gets paid and receives benefits while balancing with the organization’s needs.  I think it is important to have an artist's role in different settings.  I’m interested in learning about the movement of art in southern Bohemia - rural to city - and the impacts it has on future artists. 



Of course, sustainability also relates to the materials.  I mentioned before that I'm an heirloom caretaker.  I recieve donations from people and collect stories - I continue the story with the object and person.  The materials aren't the only item being used for sustainable purposes - the story becomes sustainable, too - continuing to be part of our dialogue.  There's a lot to discuss about how materials relate to my art practice, so I'll wait on talking about this further....   



For now, I want to end this blog post with....



It is a honor for me to be at ArtMill - creating art in the land of my ancestry.  This is the region where a lot of people from my hometown came from as well.  My time at this residency program will greatly impact my art practice - thank you Barbara for inviting me! 



There’s a lot to dig into with my projects at the Mill.  In the coming posts, I will begin to discuss the projects at ArtMill.  This blog will be my space for process work on them.  Feel free to send me a message via email: 




- Sonya Darrow


2014-12-09 - 20:37:00  by 319czech

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