Kirsten Furlong worked as an Artist-in-Residence at Prairieside Outpost in July 2018. Kirsten is from Boise, Idaho where she is the Director of the Visual Arts Center at Boise State University. Kirsten was joined at Prairieside Outpost by her partner, artist William Lewis and they exhibited their work together in the two-person show You Don’t Know Me & House Contents Grounds in July 2018 at The Bank Artspace in Matfield Green, KS.
My artist residency at Prairieside Outpost was the first two weeks of July 2018. We quickly settled into the wonderful house and studio and I began working to complete a series of drawings for an upcoming show. I immediately felt a connection between this place and my work - the prairie is a place for immersive and detailed observation - which I value in my drawing practice. The weather was hot and still with very little wind so I put off starting my kite project for a few days and focused on looking at the grasses and forbs along with the insects and birds nearby.
My partner William Lewis http://wmlewispainting.com and I were having an exhibition at the Bank Art Space so we went to the gallery to deliver the paintings. Gallery manager Matthew Regier mentioned that the open range road may be a good place for kite flying and that evening a small front came through so we hopped in the car and headed out. It was the most beautiful evening of light winds, clouds, and a rainbow stretching over the rolling Flint Hills.
It was great to meet residents of Matfield Green and folks visiting from nearby places such as Kansas City at the opening reception of our show.
We had a great visit to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve and learned more about the grassland ecosystem while seeing bison, collared lizard, lubber grasshoppers, and northern bobwhite. I was dismayed to hear from the ranger on our bus tour that he hadn't seen a prairie chicken in the preserve for several years. This inspired a kite that was flown in various places around Matfield Green and the surrounding area.
The diversity of insect life here is truly amazing - the variety of katydids and grasshoppers, spiders, and the sounds and sights of the cicadas and fireflies were so interesting. Being avid birdwatchers, we also were delighted to see mississippi kites, scissortail flycatchers, wild turkeys, brown thrashers, and many others.
Our final night in Kansas we had an open studio to show our work and say goodbye to the new friends we had made in Matfiled Green. A lovely breeze showed up that evening so everyone enjoyed some kite flying.