THE BENEFITS OF LEAVING HOME For some artists a residency is a dream come true. For others it is a fish out-of-water experience. Most arrive with some idea of what they hope to accomplish during their stay. But after a bit of time — and to their surprise — many come to realize the place is altering their original plans. Maybe it’s the quiet. Maybe it’s the pace, or the isolation. Or maybe it’s just the landscape itself. Djerassi and Ucross have taken extra care as sensitive custodians of the land, to preserve the extraordinary raw beauty of their natural settings, while integrating a sympathetic set of buildings for living and working. The relationship of what is natural to what has been built is seamless and supportive. The vast sky, the weather, the wildlife: it is what artists see out the window, or walk through, that transforms their thinking and their work. For the resident artist, there is no longer the need to create a studio as a fortress against the demands of daily life. Rather, the residency studio is merely a modest construct within an unfolding, dynamic and expansive sanctuary of nature. The beauty of a residency is that there is really only one goal: to make the work. Imagine if you had not four, not six, but as many as twenty-four hours a day to create — without interruption. All limits disappear, along with them the relief of distractions and excuses. Making work is hard and making good work is even harder. I confess that I have always possessed an obsessive need to create calm and order in my studios. So you can imagine my concerns in 1997 about trying to work in a new studio at Ucross — a place I’d never been before, far from the regularity of my routines. Upon my arrival at Ucross I moved into a small 10 x 12 foot studio space in the Big Red Barn (these no longer exist, replaced in 2000 with the beautiful Rock Studios, 400-square-foot spaces on the banks of Piney Creek). In stark contrast to my expansive, skylit warehouse studio, this was a very intimate space with a single window facing the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains. Maybe it was the intimacy of the room, the weather changing so dramati- cally on the other side of that glass pane, or maybe it was the doe who would visit me every evening just before dinner to press her nose up against the glass and peer in at me. I soon realized that even though my work was about the contemporary world, it need not be subservient to it. With no distractions I found an unbridled drive to work — first going back to the studio after dinner, and then gradually beginning my workdays earlier and earlier. Sleep became overrated and unnecessary. Finally, during the last week of my residency, I arrived at the studio ready to work at 4:00 AM every day. The seemingly endless amount of time to think and to pursue concepts to their logical conclusion was a luxury I had not known in a long time. This small studio had become a frame through which I could examine and question everything conceptually that had come before. I soon discovered that my residency would not be about continuing the path of work I brought with me. Rather, this residency would be about a fresh look. Here in northeastern Wyoming, I had been given the freedom to explore Left: Shelley Jordon in Djerassi studio Right: outside Ucross Rock Studios