hard tryer

Hard Tryer at ArtTeaZen

Breakfast with Ian Lowe at   ArtTeaZen in Langport  ,  after installing  Hard Tryer  small works on paper. ©2016 Kelly M. O'Brien.

Breakfast with Ian Lowe at ArtTeaZen in Langport , after installing Hard Tryer small works on paper. ©2016 Kelly M. O'Brien.

Several years into my journey as a working artist, I'm learning that you can happily revisit earlier work and it can still feel fresh. Without experience and perspective, I didn't realize this was possible. When my watercolor series, Hard Tryer, was put to bed after its debut at Galerie Uhn in early 2014, I moved on to other ideas.

Kelly M. O'Brien,  No Fear . Watercolor, coffee and pencil on paper. 20 x 15 cm. ©2013.

Kelly M. O'Brien, No Fear. Watercolor, coffee and pencil on paper. 20 x 15 cm. ©2013.

I recently installed 17 small works from this series at ArtTeaZen in Langport. Owners Andy and Clare Waller have created a welcoming, pleasant café with just enough funk to make it interesting, and happen to be steady supporters of local artists through the venue's rotating exhibitions.

Hard Tryer  small works on paper at ArtTeaZen, Langport. ©2016 Kelly M. O'Brien.

Hard Tryer small works on paper at ArtTeaZen, Langport. ©2016 Kelly M. O'Brien.

While most of the pieces are upbeat and light (It's Okay, Good Enough, Way Easier, Yay!), there's a row of darker pieces (Judgey, Consequences, Denial is Easier) that might garner some interesting comments, if people do indeed take a closer look.

Kelly M. O'Brien,  Judgey . Watercolor, coffee and pencil on paper. 40 x 30 cm. ©2013.

Kelly M. O'Brien, Judgey. Watercolor, coffee and pencil on paper. 40 x 30 cm. ©2013.

It wasn't until this past November, when I showed four pieces from this series in 44AD ArtSpace's Art+Text exhibition, that I was reminded of how fond I am of the work - both the soft, minimalist aesthetic, and the message. At a time when I'm starting to put my work out there in new ways, Hard Tryer's simple reminders are perfect timing.

Kelly M. O'Brien,  She Decides to Show Up . Watercolor, coffee and pencil on paper. 20 x 15 cm. ©2013.

Kelly M. O'Brien, She Decides to Show Up. Watercolor, coffee and pencil on paper. 20 x 15 cm. ©2013.

If you're near Langport before the end of May, stop in! Details here.

Exhibition: "Accordingly - Art+Text"

How I love the combination of art and text! The influence of the book arts has never really left my work, as I'm always fighting the urge to add text to my paintings, prints and sculpture.

Happily, the two will coexist in an upcoming group exhibition that includes several of my Hard Tryer pieces. Curated by Graeme Hobbs and Robert Lee, the exhibition will be at 44AD ArtSpace in Bath.

Accordingly...Art+Text | 44AD ArtSpace | 4 Abbey Street, Bath, BA1 1NN

November 3 - 8, 2015 | Private View: November 7th, 6 to 8 pm

Bath Artisan Market this Sunday

Hard Tryers at the Bath Artisan Market, Green Park Station

Hard Tryers at the Bath Artisan Market, Green Park Station

I'll be back at the Bath Artisan Market this Sunday, September 13, 10 am to 4pm. My first market in August was such a pleasure, so I'm really looking forward to this one.

Susan Whitelock, Pulp Paper Heaven, Bath Artisan Market

Susan Whitelock, Pulp Paper Heaven, Bath Artisan Market

The other traders were inspiring with clever booth ideas and easy customer engagement. The introvert in me always finds these kinds of events a challenge, but I'll be a hard tryer and show up again anyway.

Lydia Needle @blackdoglydia and her felted critters, Bath Artisan Market

Lydia Needle @blackdoglydia and her felted critters, Bath Artisan Market

If you're in the area, stop by and say hello. It's a wonderful way to spend a bit of your Sunday, wandering among beautifully-made work, eating food made from the heart, listening to talented musicians, and soaking up a unique slice of Bath life.

Marilyn's "home cooked food for busy people," Bath Artisan Market

Marilyn's "home cooked food for busy people," Bath Artisan Market

More details and directions here.

Kelly M. O'Brien, She Decides to Show Up (detail). Watercolor, coffee and pencil on paper, 8 x 6 inches. ©2013.

Kelly M. O'Brien, She Decides to Show Up (detail). Watercolor, coffee and pencil on paper, 8 x 6 inches. ©2013.

This Sunday at Bath Artisan Market: Hard Tryers and more!

Beginning this Sunday, I am pleased to be part of the Bath Artisan Market, a curated monthly event featuring Bath's talented artist makers, gourmet food booths and local live music.

For this first market, I'm bringing small, original Hard Tryer work and Postcards. The latter are high-quality reproductions of my original mixed media prints, in the form of lovely Moo.com blank greeting cards and postcards. The original prints are happily sold out, save for a couple that are still in Germany on exhibition at grassgrün in Frankfurt.

The market is held under cover at Green Park Station, a glass-roofed former train station in downtown Bath. I'll be there most months 10am to 4pm on the second Sunday, so please come visit!

Details and directions:

Bath Artisan Market | Sunday, August 9, 10am to 4pm | Green Park Station (map) | Bath, BA1 1JB

Exhibition and Opening Reception for "She is Herself"

Exhibition and Opening Reception for "She is Herself"

The power of art to heal! Am delighted that my work will hang in a new women's medical practice in Bad Soden, Germany. Opening reception: November 22 @3pm. I'll be there - please join me!

hard tryer at Galerie Uhn: The Path Itself Changed Her

"The Path Itself Changed Her" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media on paper, 70 x 50 cm.

"The Path Itself Changed Her" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media on paper, 70 x 50 cm.

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'm sharing brief backstories in a series of blog posts.

The Path Itself Changed Her is a mixed media print, part of the Postcards from the Edge: Taunus series.

Crossing paths with chickens, cows, sheep and horses is an everyday experience living in the Taunus. We have what we call the “chicken loop” as one of the routes we take with our dog Astro.

He used to get so excited when we encountered various farm animals along the way. Now he takes them in stride.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – March 15, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

hard tryer at Galerie Uhn: You Lead, I'll Follow

"You Lead, I'll Follow" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media on paper, 70 x 50 cm.

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'm sharing brief backstories in a series of blog posts.

You Lead, I'll Follow is a mixed media print, part of the Postcards from the Edge: Taunus series. Okay, full disclosure: this image was shot in Obergurgl, Austria, nowhere near the Taunus. Nonetheless, it's included in this series for now.

When we left the US to move overseas, it was an opportunity for me to focus full time on art. It also meant that I was leaving a good career in government consulting. In one fell swoop, my identity shifted from economic equal to financially dependent hausfrau. The adjustment was not pretty.

I'm learning that you've got to take turns in relationships. Sometimes you lead, other times you follow. And money isn't the only way to share responsibility and power. Living abroad has been a great teacher in this regard.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – March 15, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

EXTENDED: hard tryer at Galerie Uhn

Dear Local Friends,

It is with pleasure that I can tell you my exhibition at Galerie Uhn is extended through March 15.

New work will be hung later this week to replace the pieces that have already sold, including new large-scale watercolors on board and mixed media prints. You can read about the exhibition here.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
Seilerbahnweg 1
61462 Königstein

Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

hard tryer at Galerie Uhn: Plenty

"Plenty" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media on paper, 50 x 70 cm.

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'm sharing brief backstories in a series of blog posts.

Plenty is a mixed media print, part of the Postcards from the Edge: Taunus series.

A common site on a hike in the Taunus is walls of stacked timber, their cut ends creating patterns of circles that line both sides of the trail. The graphic digits spray-painted across the cut logs are apparently private timber marks, indicating ownership and transportation rights for the cut timber.

Like a secret formula, they add up to remind me that this is plenty.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – February 28, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

hard tryer at Galerie Uhn: Begin Anywhere

"Begin Anywhere" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media on paper, 50 x 70 cm.

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'm sharing brief backstories in a series of blog posts.

Begin Anywhere is a mixed media print, part of the Postcards from the Edge: Taunus series.

The Taunus is laced with hiking trails, stacks of timbered logs, and an occasional mid-hike restaurant or biergarten. Foul weather is no excuse, with the sun shining on average only 36% of the time. Rain, occasional shine, wind, snow – everyone is out in droves walking through fields and forest.

Choices abound for a pleasant outing. This ode to John Cage is a mantra for when I don't know where to start – in or out of the woods.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – February 28, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

hard tryer at Galerie Uhn: Leave Breadcrumbs

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'm sharing brief backstories in a series of blog posts.

Leave Breadcrumbs is a mixed media print, part of the Postcards from the Edge: Taunus series.

In a fairytale forest we hiked in fog so thick, we could barely see the trail in front of us. There's a lot of natural beauty here. I used to think that the illustrations in children's books were imaginary. But now I know that they're inspired by real-life scenery in Germany.

We live about an hour from Marburg, where the Brothers Grimm studied. Art imitates life that imitates art in this neck of the woods.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – February 28, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

hard tryer at Galerie Uhn: Schnell, Like a Bunny!

"Schnell Like a Bunny!" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media on paper, 50 x 70 cm.

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'm sharing brief backstories in a series of blog posts.

Schnell Like a Bunny! is a mixed media print, part of the Postcards from the Edge: Taunus series.

The grocery check-out line in Germany is like a competitive sport. There's a certain unspoken pressure to quickly unload your cart, bag your groceries, pay and get out of the way. Like these chocolate bunnies, you've got to be quick.

Unless, of course, you're paying in cash and want to dig out exact change. Then you can take as much time as you need.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – February 28, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

hard tryer at Galerie Uhn: Small World

"Small World" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media on paper, 50 x 70 cm.

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'm sharing brief backstories in a series of blog posts.

Small World is a mixed media print, part of the Postcards from the Edge: Taunus series.

I found these tiny mushrooms growing on top of an eye-level stone wall. Had I been rushing along at my usual pace, I would have missed them. But I'd slowed down to stop at the mailbox nearby to mail postcards to loved ones overseas.

Up close, the scene revealed an entire small world in a patch of moss.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – February 28, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

hard tryer at Galerie Uhn: freu dich, trau dich

"freu dich, trau dich" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media print on paper, 70 x 50 cm.

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'm sharing brief backstories in a series of blog posts.

Freu dich, trau dich is a mixed media print, part of the Postcards from the Edge: Taunus series.

Frankfurt is surrounded by small towns within a short drive of the city. The contrast between Frankfurt's post-war architecture and the undamaged, well-preserved medieval structures in the Taunus is a stark reminder of Germany's past – recent and distant. Bad Camberg is one such village full of cobbled streets and charming squares.

I regret not noting the name of the artist who sculpted this beguiling bronze goat. Does the awning behind her say “freu dich,” “trau dich” or both? Freu dich means rejoice. Trau dich has several meanings, including trust yourself. Either way, I like that you can rejoice in trusting yourself.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – February 28, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

hard tryer at Galerie Uhn: Good Energy

"Good Energy" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media on paper, 70 x 50 cm.

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'm sharing brief backstories in a series of blog posts.

Good Energy is a mixed media print, part of the Postcards from the Edge: Taunus series.

On the first drive across Germany from Frankfurt to Berlin with my husband, I couldn't get enough of the giant wind turbines scattered across the countryside. Many you see from a distance, marching over hills and through valleys. Others are right along the highway, towering over you like otherworldly sentinels.

Curious about them, I did a little research. Did you know that as of the end of 2013, there are over 23,500 wind turbines in Germany, supplying 8 percent of all power to the country? The transition to renewable energy is a hot topic in Germany – not without controversy – with focused federal support and what appears to be a determined can-do attitude about making the switch from fossil fuels and nuclear energy. 

Back to these turbines...like my travel companion, there was something about the wind turbines' scale, unison and quiet presence that I found reassuring.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – February 28, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

short stories from the taunus

"Leave Breadcrumbs" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media print on paper, 70 x 50 cm.

There's a story behind many of the pieces that I make. During the month of February while new work for my solo exhibition hangs at Galerie Uhn, I'll be sharing brief backstories about the work in a series of blog posts.

The stories are all from a series of mixed media prints, Postcards from the Taunus. The Taunus is the region where I live, just outside of Frankfurt.

The first set of Postcards were from Scotland. I was on an artist retreat to loosen up my work, take risks, and experiment with new techniques.

Postcard series made during Women's Studio Workshop Printing on the Edge retreat at Rua Reidh Lighthouse in northwestern Scotland. Trace monoprint, chine colle and monoprint on color photograph.

Postcard series made during Women's Studio Workshop Printing on the Edge retreat at Rua Reidh Lighthouse in northwestern Scotland. Trace monoprint, chine colle and monoprint on color photograph.

Printmaking can be full of surprises, perfect for these goals. Thus, the Postcards were born, and seem to be taking on a life of their own. They're becoming a way to document not only where I travel, but also particular moments, relationships, and identity.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – February 28, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

a heartfelt Danke!

Last night's Opening for Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn was wunderschön! I was feeling the love as friends, new acquaintances and gallery patrons gathered to help celebrate.

Gallery owner Jimin Leyrer did a wonderful job installing the work and rolling out the red carpet, treating us to her special Chinese New Year's rice cakes as we also toasted The Year of the Horse.

It means a lot to me that everyone who came made the time and effort to travel to Königstein, several navigating train schedules and the autobahn. As I was navigating my own limited German in a short talk, it struck me how people's mere presence was testament to exactly what Hard Tryer is about: putting ourselves out there to connect, even when it takes some effort or in the face of unknown results. Last night showed me that the results are indeed good.

All images above by the lovely Julia Schwager, unless otherwise noted.

The exhibition runs through the end of February. Details below.

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – February 28, 2014

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: 

Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn opens tonight!

"Small World" by Kelly O'Brien (2014). Mixed media print on paper, 50 x 70 cm.

My Hard Tryer solo exhibition at Galerie Uhn opens this evening at 19:00. If you can stop by for a visit, I'd love to share the work with you personally. The exhibition runs through the end of February.

If you have a small group of friends and would like to have a private tour, please let me or gallery owner Jimin Leyrer know.

There will be an exhibition catalog available for purchase, or as a gift when original art is purchased.

Throughout the month of February I'll be sharing short background stories about some of the work in the exhibition, including Postcards from the Edge: Taunus, through regular blog posts.

Gallery Uhn details and opening hours, below. I hope to see you on Friday!

"Hard Tryer" (detail). Watercolor, coffee, pencil on paper, 80 x 60 cm.

Exhibition details:

Hard Tryer at Galerie Uhn
January 31 – February 28, 2014
Vernissage: Friday, 31 January at 19:00

Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein
Tel: 06174-221750

Opening hours: Di. + Do. 14.00 – 18.00 Uhr, Mi. + Fr. + Sa. 10.00 – 13.00 Uhr und nach Vereinbarung

New Year's studio update

Happy New Year from the studio! I'll be starting 2014 off with my first solo exhibition in Germany. It will be at Galerie Uhn from January 31 to February 28, right here in Königstein. I'm thrilled to have this opportunity and am hard at work preparing for the show.

"Hard Tryer" (detail), watercolor, coffee and pencil on paper, 80 x 60 cm.

"Hard Tryer" (detail), watercolor, coffee and pencil on paper, 80 x 60 cm.

The exhibition will be centered around my Hard Tryer body of work, including brand new large-format watercolors and mixed media Postcards from the Edge: TaunusThe opening reception is Friday, January 31 at 7:00 pm.

"Small World" (2014). Mixed media print on paper, 50 x 70 cm.

"Small World" (2014). Mixed media print on paper, 50 x 70 cm.

Work has already begun to sell, so if you're interested in a piece, don't miss out! You're welcome to stop by my studio for a preview (just call or email ahead and chances are, I'll be here).

Local friends, I hope to see you at the opening! If you'd like a private tour of the work once the show is open, please let me know. I'd love to do so.

In the meantime, check out an arts-centered blog by The Torpedo Factory that featured my response to the question: "Should I major in art or go to art school?" It's a great blog for diving deeper into the studio life and work of the artists at one of the largest juried art centers in the United States.

Wishing you and yours a prosperous and happy 2014!

Exhibition details:

Hard Tryer, solo exhibition. Galerie UHN, Königstein, Germany. January 31 – February 28, 2014. Opening reception: Friday, 31 January at 19:00 Seilerbahnweg 1, 61462 Königstein-im-Taunus

solo exhibition: it takes a village

The past few weeks I've been preparing furiously for a solo exhibition that I have in February here in Germany. I'm very excited to have this opportunity, and am particularly delighted that it's at Galerie Uhn, a lovely gallery owned by Jimin Leyer here in my "hometown" of Königstein.

In addition to the satisfaction of preparing a new body of work for its gallery debut, it's a real pleasure to work closely with other local artists, makers, and design professionals who are involved in the process of creating the work and producing an exhibition.

Astrid Blasberg

Astrid Blasberg shared her studio and etching press with me last week, where I worked on a new batch of Postcards from the Edge. The new larger-format series will be in the exhibition, reflecting scenes of the Taunus (this rural region where we live just outside of Frankfurt).

Astrid Blasberg in her studio at the Fabrik in Roedelheim (Image: courtesy of Astrid Blasberg)

Astrid Blasberg in her studio at the Fabrik in Roedelheim (Image: courtesy of Astrid Blasberg)

Astrid is a painter with a great eye for color! Working along side her – even though we were each focused on our own work – was real inspiration.

Working on a fresh batch of "Postcards from the Edge" in Astrid Blasberg's studio

Working on a fresh batch of "Postcards from the Edge" in Astrid Blasberg's studio

Heinz Pflug

Heinz Pflug is a fine art photographer and digital printmaker who helped produce the base prints for the Postcards. His expertise and high standards helped me get crisp, beautifully-saturated prints of my photographs.

Heinz Pflug, photographer and large format digital print expert, with his massive Epson

Heinz Pflug, photographer and large format digital print expert, with his massive Epson

Heinz inspecting the work!

Heinz inspecting the work!

Julia Schwager

Julia Schwager is helping me photograph the work for an exhibition catalog. After trying to shoot the work myself with disappointing results, I'm learning it pays to bring in the experts! Her methodical approach is teaching me that there's a lot to getting good images. Plus, Julia's great fun to work with.

Julia Schwager photographing my work for the exhibition catalog

Julia Schwager photographing my work for the exhibition catalog

Katja von Ruville

Katja von Ruville is designing and producing the exhibition catalog. I adore Katja's esthetic (and her gorgeous handmade jewelry), so I'm very happy to tap her talents for this project.

Katja von Ruville (and studio assistant Anouk) is designing the exhibition catalog (Image: Sven Ehlers)

Katja von Ruville (and studio assistant Anouk) is designing the exhibition catalog (Image: Sven Ehlers)

Merja Herzog Hellsten

My local teacher, Merja Herzog Hellsten, has been a catalyst for the direction of this work since I started classes with her last Spring. Not only is Merja a productive, successful working artist, but a highly effective teacher with a gift for honing in on just the right feedback when it's needed.

Merja Herzon Hellsten in action during a group crit in our Staedelschule Adult Education class

Merja Herzon Hellsten in action during a group crit in our Staedelschule Adult Education class

Lisa Kokin

Last, but definitely not least, is my mentor Lisa Kokin. Lisa deserves her own blog post, which I will do. For now, suffice it to say that there would not be a village without Lisa's gentle tough love and steady presence since Fall 2011. I sought her out as an art coach when we moved overseas, knowing that not only did I need a wise guide to help me transition to fulltime working artist, but also someone to help me find the courage to put myself out there in a new town. The fact that Lisa's based in California hasn't stopped us and proves that one's "village" can be global as well as local.

Lisa Kokin, mixed media artist, teaching Bindi how to sew (Image: Lia Roozendaal)

Lisa Kokin, mixed media artist, teaching Bindi how to sew (Image: Lia Roozendaal)

One of my desires in moving overseas was to become immersed in local, everyday life. It's surprisingly easy as an expat not to integrate. You've got to put yourself out there in small ways that can easily become obstacles if you don't face them down: making phone calls in German, working all day through technical details with someone who speaks no English, deciphering a proposal in German (Google Translate does a lousy job), hunting down local resources and suppliers in German, preparing catalog text in two languages. I could go on!

None of this is a complaint, but it is an added layer of challenge. Which is why I'm grateful to everyone involved. They are collaborators, mentors, professionals, and friends. I wasn't sure that I could have this outside the comfort zone of my longtime hometown in the US. This experience is teaching me that, yes – it takes a village to pull off a "solo" exhibition – but that village can be anywhere if you're willing to put down the fear and just connect with people.