Kate Alyse Clark // Impressions of Tartu

Painting the gallery wall

For the month of January my family and I participated in the short-term residency program. I spent most days walking the city. The graffiti, street art, and color palette of Tartu directly influenced my work. It was easy to be inspired by the blankets of fresh snow and the cobblestone streets of Old Town. I was surprised by the overwhelming presence of Estonia’s past. Stories of the Soviet Era frequently came up in my conversations with locals, and I tried to understand the layers behind these perspectives. 

The first few weeks in studio were very productive and somewhat effortless. A variety of marks and washes were ready to be put on canvas. My final four paintings turned into large sketchbook pages. I allowed myself the surface to explore new shapes and applications of paint to be considered for future works. 

Kate’s studio at the Tartu Art House

My sons (two and five) were frequent visitors to my studio space filling the early evenings with painting on my unsuccessful canvases and drawing treasure maps. Their favorite aspects of Tartu were sledding through the streets, the Upside Down House, and the endless opportunities for sweets. It was endearing to watch them overcame language barriers as they played with their peers. 

The people I met throughout the month hold my favorite memories of this experience. I feel grateful for the staff of the Print and Paper Museum, my fellow artist-in-residence Bita Razavi, and the onlookers who took the time to view my body of work. The kindness of these individuals made the challenging aspects of living and working in a foreign city worth the effort. 

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