TLDR; I will be finishing my time at Djerassi Resident Artists Program at the end of the year, a place that I am immensely grateful for. I don’t know what’s next. (Bonus: my pronouns are they/them/theirs.)
To whom it may concern:
As of 2019, I will no longer be managing Djerassi Resident Artists Program. For nearly two and a half years it has been a pleasure to be in direct service to supporting hundred of artists from around the world. I applied for this job, knowing if I didn’t I would regret it for the rest of my life. It fit me in so many ways, syncing up to my dreams of working and living on land for an organization that prioritized investing in artists, and sometimes there were even cows. I have grown in ways I imagined I would, and in more ways than I could have predicted.
Djerassi Resident Artists Program was founded in response to the tragic death by suicide of Pamela Djerassi Bush. Pamela was just 28 years old when she took her own life. This year, when I turned 28, living on this same mountaintop nearly 40 years later, I found the void between us shrink. I honor Pamela for the life she lived, and the vast network of artists, scientists, and others that have been nurtured in direct relation to her.
I, myself, have been nurtured by this land* and by the people here. I have been blessed with a team of stunning coworkers, and even more impressive are the artists that have come through over my tenure. I love and respect each so deeply, and thank them all for letting me into a tiny piece of their life and process. It is with deep appreciation that some of those artists have stayed in my orbit even after departing from their residency.
From my spot as residency manager, I continually worked towards an atmosphere for artists to reach the level of vulnerability they need to be able to create the meaningful work we all so desperately need. In a time of increasing discontent and destruction, artists are the magicians that are creating something out of nothing. And we need this more than ever. Like a fly on the wall, I was able to witness this creation, this passion, this struggle, time and time again. And unlike a fly on the wall, I answered calls at 2 AM, wrote yet another email, and drove into town for shampoo or wine. I also witnessed hundreds of sunsets that took my break away each and every evening.
I will never be able to quantify, qualify, or explain what this position was to me. All this gratitude is not to say it hasn’t been hard. The past two and a half years have been some of the most difficult in my life. Through these challenges, though, I have grown in ways that only move me closer to the person I aspire to be. I have faced my fears in this job, daily, and that has taught me how to tackle the scarier things in all aspects of my life. I have found solutions in impossible situations. I have worked myself harder than my body could handle, and learned from it. I am immensely proud of what I have accomplished here.
This position afforded me opportunities I didn’t expect. Including living in a tiny cabin, with the downstairs neighbor (read: rat) that scuttles around at 3:30 AM every morning. I also travelled a ton, started backpacking again, and even managed to get an MA in Social Justice and Community Organizing by basically not sleeping for a year. With the support of a couple co-workers I came out as non-binary, adopting they/them/theirs pronouns (yes, I did just drop that into the middle of all this). Plus, I am now completely unbothered by spiders, learned how to tow cars out of mud, relocated live rattlesnakes, and much more. I practiced what it means to be a good ally--sometimes being more successful than others. I showed up to hard conversations and listened when people needed to be heard.
As I wrap up the end of another successful season, I plan my departure. My next adventure is still unknown, though there are a handful of options. What I do know is that I am curating an art exhibition at Sierra Nevada College that is on view January 3-February 8, 2019. More details to come, but perhaps I will see you there. Until then, I will be here finalizing projects and preparing a smooth transition for my successors through the end of the year. If you have some interest in having a job you cannot explain, while living in a place that is unbelievable, alongside the most talented artists you will ever meet, you can think about applying to replace me. I cannot say you won’t regret it, but I can guarantee there will not be a dull moment to be had.
With deep love and gratitude.
*I want to acknowledge that this land is the traditional territory of, and sacred to, the Ramaytush, Ohlone, and Ahmamutsen people