Fairfield University art professor awarded prestigious Ucross residency


Image: Jo YarringtonJo Yarrington, professor of visual and performing arts in the College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University, won a coveted two-week artist residency at the Ucross Foundation in Ucross, Wyoming, one of about 100 residencies this year. Past Ucross Fellows include Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Proulx, who wrote "The Shipping News," artist Polly Apfelbaum, winner of the Guggenheim and Rome Prize whose work is in the MoMA collection, and National Book Award nominee Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat, Pray, Love." Among the other 1,200 residency winners selected over the past 25 years are Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award and MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship recipients.

Professor Yarrington, who has taught studio art at Fairfield for 22 years, will present her research from a 10-year collaborative project that she completed at UCross in a lecture and panel discussion, "In Consideration of the Rising and Falling Edge - a Discourse on the Nature of Place (as a Destination)", on Tuesday, October 16 at 6 p.m. in the Multi-media Lecture Room at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library on campus. Panelists will include Dr. Kim Bridgford, director of the West Chester University Poetry Center, and Fairfield University faculty members, Drs. Gisela Gil-Egui, Ryan Drake, David Gudelunas and Vincent Rosivach. The event is free and open to the public.

Professor Yarrington, whose drawings, photographs and installations have been shown around the world, used her time at the artists' colony to complete a collaborative travel project with Dr. Bridgford, a poet and former English professor at Fairfield. The two are nearly finished with "The Falling Edge: Iceland, Venezuela and Bhutan (2004-2012)," a 10-year interdisciplinary collaboration chronicling their visual and poetic responses to shared journeys.

Yarrington said the project with Dr. Bridgford has been an amazing experience and has profoundly changed her perception of collaboration, friendship, and ultimately her work. "The two weeks of the residency allowed both of us to have a focused amount of time to both review our responses to our journeys and then be able to rethink and expand on the contextual basis of that initial work," she said.

The project included 10-day trips to all three countries, places they see as 'at the edge' - be it geographically, economically, politically or technologically. The trips resulted in a series of three books of poems and photography through which, Yarrington said, "we explore odd balances, a way to somehow hover between the two disciplines." The project, conceptualized as both discrete objects and as components of a larger installation in an exhibition space, is based around units of 10; for instance, Dr. Bridgford's iambic line of her sonnets. Professor Yarrington's photographs will not illustrate the poetry, but speak to their common journey.

Dr. Bridgford, who said she was humbled to be named a Ucross Fellow, said her collaboration with Professor Yarrington has been a rich and inspiring experience. "Not only has this collaborative project taught me a great deal about the world - I've traveled, researched and written about countries that were new to me as a traveler and writer - but it has also taught me about the nature of friendship," said Dr. Bridgford, who taught at Fairfield for 21 years.

Professor Yarrington has had much to celebrate this year: She was the Spring 2012 recipient of the Robert Wall Award, the University's top research prize, which allowed her to work on the collaboration. She was also awarded a percentage for the arts commissions for a site project entitled "Shadow Play" for Kid's Play, the new children's museum in Torrington, Conn. An upcoming solo exhibition has been scheduled for May 2013 in the Museum Building, Grounds for Sculpture, in Hamilton Township, New Jersey.

Although Yarrington is bittersweet about coming to the conclusion of the "Failing Edge" project, she said "it has lead to discussions with Dr. Bridgford on another upcoming collaboration exploring the idea of journey 'as if drawing a continuous line around the earth'."

Professor Yarrington's work has been shown at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Conn, the Museum of Glass in Washington, the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco and The Trinity Museum in New York City, among other institutions. International exhibitions have included Galeria Sala Uno in Italy, Centro de las Artes de Guanajuato, Mexico, Glasgow School of Art in Scotland and Christuskirche in Germany. She has received fellowships from the Pollock Krasner Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, SIMS/Iceland, and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, among others. In 2001, she represented the United States at the Sharjah Biennial, United Arab Emirates.

At Fairfield, she has taught foundational drawing, printmaking and the junior/senior seminar.

Other events and upcoming projects for Professor Yarrington include a proposed residency in Ireland at Cill Rialaig. Her work for printmaking portfolio titled "Score," produced by the Printmaking Network of Southern New England, is currently on view at the Akus Gallery, Eastern Connecticut State University.

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Media Contact: Meredith Guinness, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, mguinness@fairfield.edu

Posted on August 27, 2012

Vol. 45, No. 30