by Susan Johnson, Cohort ’12
This is a photo of me painting at Menemsha, a fishing village on my home island of Martha’s Vineyard. While the newer cohorts are engaged in far off travels, I have been engaged with applying a traveler’s mindset to my familiar surroundings. I call this viewing with “Italy eyes”. This activity exemplifies my overall mission as I enter my third year of study with IDSVA. The third year is the beginning of a new leg of my IDSVA journey. I am preparing for my upcoming residency at Brown University, where a process of emergence will commence that will result in a dissertation.
This year, the focus of my plein-air painting project is upon the maritime identity of my surroundings. I am spending much time on the dock for the fishing boats in Menemsha, a unique fishing village within the town of Chilmark, MA. Menemsha is historic and contemporary: self consciously scenic yet authentically active. A family visiting Menemsha sent the enclosed photo to me. They are travelers to my home island, as now am I in attitude. A few days after this photo was taken, I ran into the family again on the dock. They had been talking about my plein-air painting, and decided to ask me
if they could buy the painting they had photographed me working on. The week before, another group of travelers did the same, coming to my booth at a weekly “farmer’s market for art”. The multi-layer nature of this activity is research within a philosophical framework, along with other facets of my project. We’ll see how this all develops after my Brown residency! By the way, the boat I am painting here is a ninety-year old wooden dragger, the “Richard & Arnold”. It is an active fishing boat based in Provincetown. The owners have been fishing out of Menemsha for at least thirty years. In that time, the fishing fleet of Provincetown has declined from over sixty boats to three. Menemsha has been experiencing similar changes, and this is why I find myself spending time there this summer.