With their signature yellow ochre paint on the barn and matching sunset in the distance, this residency stirred up a lot of creativity during my stay. It seems fitting that they have chosen such a warm, glowing color since yellow works well with our creativity. Studies show it helps you feel expressive, curious, and experimental. The weather also was an added bonus during my 30 day stay. It was sunny and warm nearly every single day in October! For me, this residency was about feeling the fear of traveling alone and doing it anyway. I’ve done plenty of travel in my life but never alone to a remote Bulgarian village. It made me feel brave and empowered. Additionally, as an artist, I wanted to really dig deep and work hard creating something different. IMAGO provides everything you need to live comfortably and gently nudges you to surrender to your environment: one you’ll never forget in your lifetime. It was a true cultural experience that cultivated ideas in my head that I never would have had in my home town of Wilmington, NC.
The village of Tsarimir and home of IMAGO somehow works into your skin and you suddenly feel gripped with creativity. If you allow yourself to surrender to the almost surreal surroundings and sit with abandoned structures, and walk the empty spaces and observe time worn infrastructure, the same magic will happen for you. If you take time to listen to the birds in the courtyard, or sift through vintage records in the house and listen to them, and maybe sip a little Rakia in the evening, magic will happen.
You have to be able to adapt to solitude.
It is what I sought to have in the beginning. But remember that making connections with your other residency friends is important. Try to establish a routine, have a drink together and don’t let competitiveness enter the room. Enjoy each other’s company at night, learn about their craft. It’s important to stay positive and not let negative energy seep into the cracks. If it’s there for some odd reason, quietly go In the other direction and make friends with the artist within. Go for walks in the neighborhood or grab a cold drink at the village center. Language barriers are for real here and you might have to just smile your way through a situation. You will have new Bulgarian friends forever and every single person I met had a worry free attitude that instantly broke down any anxious feelings I had brought with me.
You’ll quickly learn that relaxing and not sweating the small stuff is key to life here (along with yogurt, cheese and Rakia). It has shifted my perspective on life and I have adopted the phrase: “it’s no problem” whenever I start to feel stressed. Rado and Teddy were especially accommodating and very knowledgeable about art history and curating. I enjoyed our conversations immensely and learned so much about exhibiting. They have an extensive friendly network of people in the art world and I left feeling accepted, accomplished and inspired. They are friends forever.