Today at The Morning News, Alexander Chee waxes poetic about artist colonies.
Touching on MacDowell, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Civitella Ranieri, Chee explores the mystery behind the everyday at colonies, and dispels the myth that these places are primarily homes to artist-fueled debauchery. From “Go Away”:
After an arts colony stay, the re-entry to normal society can be difficult. It was a popular Gazette topic, for example. All of us at MacDowell found it shattering, even the homesick ones. My week of departure, I remember, several guys were leaving at the same time and we decided to grow re-entry beards. Those who couldn’t grow a beard bought re-entry underwear. It was all reported in the Gazette.
I didn’t shave mine off for months.
See also: Emily Rapp’s powerful Rumpus essay on grief, “Shadows and Ghosts: Batman, Thomas Cromwell, and The Corporation of Yaddo.” Published earlier this month, Rapp writes, among many things, about the artist colony Yaddo and its despair-driven origins.