This past spring I was fortunate enough to meet Ellen Kochansky, the director of the Rensing Center in Pickens, SC. The Rensing Center is a non-profit artist residency that houses creative individuals in a community open to artistic, environmental, and entrepreneurial fields. The center resides on twenty-seven acres in the Appalachian foothills and also offers an outreach program in Northern Italy.
I was able to take a walking tour on site led by Ellen herself and a current resident, named Matt, who was a poet. The grounds overlook a beautiful open field with cattle and other livestock as well as a hidden trail leading to a waterfall. There are a few housing areas that have a neighboring studio. Each one is full of character, especially a main gathering room with a library of books, a piano, and a house cat named Bob.
Rensing has hosted residents from numerous states and nine different countries. Resident sessions are spring, fall, and winter and last up to three months. In addition to residencies, it also sponsors lectures, exhibitions, school programs, and other opportunities throughout the year.
With a vast alumni base, they recently hosted an exhibition displaying work of past artists. I was most attracted to the works of a textile worker who made pieces out of human hair and a painter who made quick paintings using India ink washes. These works spoke to me in the way they used the body as a found object and capturing every day moments quickly like a camera.