No Boundaries International
Art Colony 2012 Opening Gala
Saturday, 11/17, 6-9 p.m.
ACME Art Studios • 711 N. 5th Ave
Inspired by an artist colony in Macedonia, St. Joakim Osogovski, Wilmington artists Pam Toll, Gayle Tustin and Dick Roberts decided to found Wilmington’s first international artist colony in 1998. The idea came in September 1994 sometime after Toll had spent two affecting weeks attending St. Joakim. “I was given an artist’s dream there: freedom and time to create,” Toll says.
Local artists, colony organizer at St. Joakim Osogvoski and curator of the National Gallery of Skopje asked Toll to bring artists back with her to the U.S. In 1995, Toll returned with Tustin to the Macedonian colony and again in 1996 with Roberts. They used the colony at St. Joakim as the model for No Boundaries. Toll says another important piece to the puzzle was the cooperation of Bald Head Island, which was cemented in 1998 due to the generosity of their friend, Kent Mitchell.
“The name ‘No Boundaries’ was appropriate because part of our mission is about putting down boundaries, especially between countries in turmoil,” Tustin explains. “We witnessed artists workng together in peace when their home countries were hostile. This was the stepping stone we took off from.”
For 14 years No Boundaries International (NBI) has successfully connected artists from around the world in an environment that inspires camaraderie and creativity. In the past participating artists have come from many countries, including Macedonia, Bulgaria, Canada, Ghana, Holland, France, Scotland, Germany, Iraq, Switzerland, Turkey, Italy, Denmark, Austria, Serbia, Peru, Argentina and Wilmington’s Sister Cities in Barbados, China and England
“[It’s] a brilliant way to enrich artists’ lives and, at the same time, equip them with a powerful network of talented artists across the globe,” participating artist Bonnie England says. “The connections are priceless, and the experience really has been one of complete richness since we basically feed off of each other and are immersed in so many different approaches to making art.”
England, a local painter, met NBI co-founders Tustin and Toll while an undergrad in UNCW’s studio art program. Later, she interned with Gayle before going on to be a local entrepreneur, opening and selling galleries like Bottega and Projekte. England was invited to attend the colony in 2006 and has been invited back every year since; in 2010, she joined the NBI board of directors.
Aside from Toll, Tustin and England, this year’s colony also features local artists Catherine Lea, Colleen Ringarose, Courtney Johnson, Stephanie Hagens, Evelyn Boyd Hines, Fritzi Huber, Leslie Stucker Pearson, Michelle Connolly, Shannon Bourne, and Shawn Best. Visiting artists are G. Scott Queen (Charlotte), Sergej Andreevski (Macedonia), Stainslav Buban (Slovakia), Éva Mayer (Slovakia) and Glenn Ziemke (Vermont).
Andreevski, one of the artists who originally met Toll in Macedonia, has participated in NBI since 1998. He says the transition from painting in a predominantly mountainous country in Southeastern Europe to the ebb and tide of the coast on Bald Head Island is quite drastic. Yet, the change awakens something new in his work.
“[The ocean] inspires my paintings very much, and especially the sun and sky,” Andreevski says. “Here, each day the sky is ever changing. After the storms, the sky is very dramatic before night comes,and we can use this dramatic part in our artwork.”
Even with environmental inspiration, Andreevski’s post-expressionistic style ultimately comes from within. “I watch the nature, but my artwork is more about how I feel,” he clarifies. “I never make sketches before I work; I’m like a jazz musician, I go right into my work. Nothing on my canvas is in my mind. I feel and take the energy from nature and the people [here] and, with my hands, try to organize something with my artwork.”
Tustin says the one of the main points of No Boundaries is about getting out of one’s familiar environment to meet a challenge somewhere outside the box.
“What I love about the colony is the exposure to so many different approaches to making art,” England concurs. “I can test-drive these methods myself and then forge it into my own style, and if it doesn’t work then dispose of it and try something else. Creating alongside other artists is a certified guarantee to artistic growth.”
Though what seems like an artist’s boot camp on paper, Toll’s description of an average day makes it sound like an artist’s resort. She describes the typical itinerary as: coffee, walk on the beach (“scavenging for materials or meditation on the beach, maybe making art on the beach.”), breakfast, making art, lunch, a swim, making more art (“which might involve finding the perfect site”), celebrating the sunset, a glass of wine (“with lively discussions, laughter, good food made by artists or locals”), and dancing and looking at the stars.
“Because there are no other distractions or hindrances—and we’re away from our daily obligations—this is a time to play and explore,” England explains. “I attend the colony without a preset agenda and respond to it wholly with an open mind to all possibilities. We are creating from sun until sun down—sometimes even through the night.”
Likewise, at every turn an artist has turned a normal space into her work place—from living rooms and kitchens to bedrooms and front porches, the beach or forest.“Really anywhere and everywhere,” Tustin says.
After the two weeks’ end, the artists will pack up and leave their cottages armed with many new works of all mediums. They will all reconvene at ACME Art Studios, downtown Wilmington, where they will exhibit the fruits of their labor. The exhibition opens on Saturday the 16th and hangs at ACME through December 3rd.
“No Boundaries is unique in that we bring artists here from around the world, most whom have never been to the U.S. before,” says Tustin. “It’s in part about sharing our culture and who we are as citizens. It’s a small way to make the world a better place, a ‘drop in the sea’ for world peace and understanding.”
If an artist would like to be considered for next year’s art colony, an application process that can be found on their website www.nbiac.org.