Marj Hahne, left, and Emily Wortman-Wunder, recipients of artist-in-residence awards from the Durango Art Ranch, spoke about their work Wednesday at Maria’s Bookshop.
For Emily Wortman-Wunder, a biologist and author, her science and her fiction use similar tools of observation. “Though I’ve never radio-collared a character,” she said Wednesday night at Maria’s Bookshop.
Wortman-Wunder and Marj Hahne, a poet, are in Durango for a month as artists-in-residence with the Colorado Art Ranch. They read from their work and discussed writing with a dozen people at our local bookstore.
Both talked of removing the ego from writing, nurturing the dark issues that most people reject and being aware of the key thing to focus on while discarding details.
Neither talked about mapping, the theme for the Durango Art Ranch program that brought them to town. Hahne, however, read from the project she came to Durango to work on, prose poems for every element in the periodic table.
Colorado Art Ranch brought three writers and three visual artists to Durango for a month-long residency. They were given a house and studio space to share and attended this month’s Durango Artposium, which was staged by the Art Ranch.
Wortman-Wunder, Hahne and B.K. Loren are the writers of the group. Only the first two remain in Durango. A computer problem forced Loren to return to her home in Broomfield. But all came with a specific project.
For Wortman-Wunder, it was completing a novel set in a fictional town like Durango. For Loren, it was working on a food book she is writing with a celebrity chef.
Hahne explained why she chose to participate when she saw the project.
“It was a body/gut hit,” she said. “I like that it inquires into something in a multidisciplinary way.” Hahne attended the first Art Ranch event in Salida in May.
When asked about Durango, Hahne said she didn’t yet have a sense of the people but added that it’s “easy to meet your kindred here. Not because they are few and far between, but because they live here.”
Wortman-Wunder said this residency was different from others she’s attended because it was more community centered. Residents are required to give back to the community one day. Several have worked with students at Fort Lewis College and attended a local artists’ group meeting. See box at left for the visual artists’ open house.
“There was a lot of effort put into us getting to know people and interact,” she said. She added that each resident was assigned a local art buddy. The art buddies were Katie Clark, Jules Masterjohn, Mary Ellen Long, Carol Ozaki, Joan Russell, Carol Martin, Maureen May and Paul Pennington.
For Wortman-Wonder, who is a mother with two children, the time she had here in Durango to focus on finishing her novel was “gorgeous.” And she got to return to the town she lived in 15 years ago.
Loren also has loose ties to Durango.
“I resent that most residencies are on the East Coast,” she said. “There are few in the West and very few in Colorado, so I want to support them.”
firstname.lastname@example.org Leanne Goebel is a freelance writer specializing in the arts.
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Open Studio with Roberta Smith and Julia Karll, visual artists-in-residence from Durango Art Ranch, 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Art Building, Room 170, Fort Lewis College.