I lucked out with Elaine Reichek. She was in town for the unveiling of her facade project for the Gardner Museum. It's taken from the correspondence between Mrs. G. and Henry James. David and his crew had just finished installing the piece when I met up with Elaine for a talk in the Living Room. Elaine was the first artist to have a residency at the Gardner Museum and she produced the award winning MADAM I'M ADAMCD rom project there. I still use the piece with my students. It gives another kind of vision to Mrs. G's house and sort of foretells the augmented reality phase that is happening now.
Elaine is one of my favorite artists. I first heard of her when one of my professors showed her work in class. It was White Brushstroke 1 from the exhibition AT HOME AND IN THE WORLD. In my education, it may have been the first time that I saw a white artist directly and confidently address their position of whiteness. I was kind of stunned by the way she just turned all these things that were in the air at that time (appropriation, feminism, craft, text, history, erasure, race, and whiteness) on their heads with a cross stitch. I remember going to the MFA Bookstore and looking for all the texts I could find about her.
In 2004, I was working as Dean at Skowhegan and Elaine was one of the resident faculty. We became very close that summer and we talked a great deal not just about art, but about life, loss and the importance of community.
It was rainy when we started talking, but it cleared up. Elaine and I talk about a lot. We discuss her move to Harlem, gentrification, whiteness, maintaining a career, loss, love, food, galleries, and a bunch of other stuff, if you can believe it. We went way over time, but it was worth it. I love Elaine a great deal. At this time in my own studio practice when things are so unstable and fraught, it was good to sit down with a friend who knows how to keep the work moving forward.