In 2017, local artists Julie and Matthew Chase-Daniel were evacuated from Florida's Loggerhead Key, one of the Dry Tortuga islands. Hurricane Irma was fast approaching, and the Chase-Daniels—a mere few days into a month-long residency through Santa Fe's National Parks Arts Foundation—had to put their plans on hold and lie low in Central Florida. Some weeks later they returned under safer conditions to conclude the program, and the results come to the Center for Contemporary Arts this Friday, March 6 (5 pm. Free. 1050 Old Pecos Trail, 982-1338) in the form of The Blue Fold, a combination book and exhibition of everything they learned, told through imagery and poetry. SFR spoke with Julie to learn more about the project. (Alex De Vore)
Was the residency just about getting away from it all?
It’s more like trying to get into it all in a way that makes sense for the time and place we find ourselves relative to climate change and the way art can support new-wave thinking about nature and our place in it. We were the only two human inhabitants for a few weeks while we were there. There’s a small bungalow on the island that was the lighthouse keeper’s cottage back in the days when the lighthouse was operational, but it was decommissioned quite a while back. There are researchers affiliated with the Parks Service who stay out on the island in order to accomplish their research goals, but there’s no phone or internet or ways other than a two-way radio with the Park Service to communicate. It was the summer Hurricane Irma swept through and just a few days after we arrived it was evacuated.
You’ll hear artists of various disciplines say that changing perspectives like this—or isolating themselves—has helped create some of their best work. Was that the case for you and Matthew?
It was certainly a container that helped us give birth to a new body of work that we’d never done before together. We’ve been working and playing and loving each other since we were in college, so, a long time, but the island gave us a chance to unfold new aspects of our creative partnerships together. I happen to be one of those people who thrives best in those delicate midnight hours when the buzz of the human world slips away. For me, the island was the deepest, most wonderful way to immerse myself in that without the interruptions of daily life.
Would you say there was any sort of epiphany or key takeaway from the experience? What have you learned that you’ll carry with you?
The challenge is picking the one to bring forward into this conversation—there were many, really. I think, as an artist, it’s important to me to feel my work is in service to something greater than myself and the vision of a world of greater flourishing for all living things and beings. I guess the takeaway for me is that art really does have a meaningful place in dialogues about how to achieve protections, conservation and restoration of our natural resources. Art and science can inspire each other to bring forward information and insight to people who are searching out ways to experience the world more meaningfully.