oWhen I told people I was going to "art camp" they were understandably confused; adults don't usually go to camp, they go to conferences. Art Camp was one part retreat, one part professional development and one part celebrate the kid inside you camp experience. It was organized by Oakland based artist and founder of Venison Magazine, Amber Imrie-Situnayake and hosted by Amber and the Los Angeles based artist Nazish Chunara. If you haven't heard of Venison Magazine- check it out immediately!
For its inaugural session, Camp Venison was located in Placerville, CA in an old church that was converted into a beautiful home. The best thing about this house were the two large meeting rooms that served as the locations for our workshops and critiques. There were 10 of us total and we had plenty of space- and real beds to sleep in.
The camp schedule included workshops led by fellow artists, critiques- called "venison labs", collaborative cooking, and explorer time, which was essentially free time with the option of breaking into smaller groups to explore the area.
I found the workshops to be really valuable, some highlights included a workshop by the incredibly knowledgeable Oklahoma based photographer Molly Thompson (all the photos on this post are hers) who through tips and hands on demos showed us how to best photograph our artworks using a smartphone. Another highlight was a workshop by the insta-famous Oklahoma based artist Tyler Thrasher who taught us the ins and outs of Instagram and how it is a great tool to not only to promote your art but to find other artists and build connections and community.
The Venison Labs were far different than any critique I had in school. They were essentially generative conversations about the artist's work or practice. All of the conversations were specific to the artist, but the discussion often touched on things we could all relate to- how do you talk about your work? how do you keep creating with the demands of full time work and family? what are your ultimate goals as an artist? what part of the creative process brings you joy? These labs were perhaps the most impactful part of the programing for me, they helped me reflect on my own practice and reaffirmed my current direction in my work.
Collaborative cooking was fun and a great way to get to know one another. The food was organized by day and the cooking team for each meal would simply find the ingredients for the meal they were cooking in the fridge and pantry and use the provided recipe to cook the meal for the group. Each team cooked 1 meal a day. It was fun to be creative with each other in the kitchen and to chat and laugh while we cooked. The food was healthy and delicious and always came out good.
The explorer time was super fun too-We visited a gorgeous reservoir (I jumped in the icy water of course), we hiked, and we also played hide and seek (which was way too scary- how the hell do kids play that game??)
Overall it was an incredible experience and one I highly recommend.
Photo credit: Molly Thompson http://www.mollythompsonvisuals.com/