April Flanders

April Flanders traveled from her home in Boone, NC to work at Matfield Outpost in May/June 2014.

A Transformative Experience Arriving at the airport, I picked up my rental car and began the short drive from Wichita to Matfield Green. My slight disorientation at having gone from east to center was exacerbated by the wide-open landscape complete with oil rigs and cows. I kept shaking my head as if to shake off a strange feeling, but finally, with no-one to hear it, I exclaimed out loud: “This is really weird”! It was alien for me to see for such long distances as my daily life in Boone is conducted in the warm embrace of the mountains, where I am lucky to see one small patch of sky at a time.

A Transformative Experience

Arriving at the airport, I picked up my rental car and began the short drive from Wichita to Matfield Green. My slight disorientation at having gone from east to center was exacerbated by the wide-open landscape complete with oil rigs and cows. I kept shaking my head as if to shake off a strange feeling, but finally, with no-one to hear it, I exclaimed out loud: “This is really weird”! It was alien for me to see for such long distances as my daily life in Boone is conducted in the warm embrace of the mountains, where I am lucky to see one small patch of sky at a time.

My time as an artist in residence at Matfield Outpost was framed by long, hot days that seemed to never end. Nestled in absolute solitude in the little studio space, I worked on a project that has its roots in my eastern, mountain home landscape of Boone, NC. Looking up from my work, it seemed incongruous to be working with plants from the mountains but looking across a small prairie watching clouds make slow progress across the sky.

My time as an artist in residence at Matfield Outpost was framed by long, hot days that seemed to never end. Nestled in absolute solitude in the little studio space, I worked on a project that has its roots in my eastern, mountain home landscape of Boone, NC. Looking up from my work, it seemed incongruous to be working with plants from the mountains but looking across a small prairie watching clouds make slow progress across the sky.

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Time really acted differently in the Flint Hills. Perhaps it was the solitude, and the temporary shedding of my mommy and wife role, but time slowed down. I spent my days tracing and cutting, tracing and cutting and… hiking. I did some glorious hikes in the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. My first hike took me through some tall grass still wet with dew and it was there that I had my first lesson – tall grass wet with dew equals soggy socks — take them off and wring them out soggy! I was rewarded though, with a brief but spirited conversation with a hawk, and an encounter with a turtle no bigger than a silver dollar.

Every afternoon, back at the house, I saw the deer. The first day it was a mama and her tiny fawn. The second day there were four, and the following days just one at a time. Instead of “beer” time, I had “deer” time. Also inspiring was the current exhibition at Pioneer Bluffs of the artist Curtis Jones. I’ve never met him, but his work affected me deeply and gave me some new ideas. At night, I fell asleep to the omnipresent sound of freight trains rattling the windows of the little house on the prairie. My time alone was happily interrupted by the arrival of fellow artist Hilary Lorenz and her two faithful furry companions, Homer and Conrad. With them, I traveled to a local lake and saw the namesake waterfall of Cottonwood Falls. I admit, it did not resemble the waterfalls we have back in the mountains of Western North Carolina, but it was a lovely oasis. I left Matfield Green knowing that I get to return in the fall to hang my exhibition at The Gallery at Pioneer Bluffs, but I was wistful nonetheless. The prairie landscape crept into my soul in a way I could not have predicted. I need to see it again. in progress by April Flanders, 2014.

Every afternoon, back at the house, I saw the deer. The first day it was a mama and her tiny fawn. The second day there were four, and the following days just one at a time. Instead of “beer” time, I had “deer” time. Also inspiring was the current exhibition at Pioneer Bluffs of the artist Curtis Jones. I’ve never met him, but his work affected me deeply and gave me some new ideas. At night, I fell asleep to the omnipresent sound of freight trains rattling the windows of the little house on the prairie. My time alone was happily interrupted by the arrival of fellow artist Hilary Lorenz and her two faithful furry companions, Homer and Conrad. With them, I traveled to a local lake and saw the namesake waterfall of Cottonwood Falls. I admit, it did not resemble the waterfalls we have back in the mountains of Western North Carolina, but it was a lovely oasis. I left Matfield Green knowing that I get to return in the fall to hang my exhibition at The Gallery at Pioneer Bluffs, but I was wistful nonetheless. The prairie landscape crept into my soul in a way I could not have predicted. I need to see it again. in progress by April Flanders, 2014.

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Work in progress by April Flanders, 2014.