Joya: AiR / Ya Tien Shih / Taiwan
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“I started my masters research about environmental issues last year, I have been thinking about how art practices can reflect to it. Having a residency at Joya: AiR is no doubt a place where brought me inspiration and provided an environment for me to push my research idea further than staying in an urban city.

A week staying in Joya: AiR is a short but memorable experience. In the first few days, I finished a short essay for a magazine, and drafted another one with me fully able to concentration in the spacious studio with a French window facing the spectacular landscape. When I was not working, I took long walks, exploring the area with other residents. We shared ideas, our projects or even just talking our life stories while hiking in the rocky mountains, spring forests and the steep riverbed. It was inspiring to work together and to go through the whole processes of exploring, coming up with ideas, and testing the found materials, such as clay, stone, and plants. The rest of the days, I also did reading about the topic of materiality which concreted my research and formulated my potential future plan of making a publication. Joya: AiR is truly a good place for meditating, working productively and meeting amazing people from all around the world”!

Ya Tien Shih .

Joya: AiR / Kimberly Callas / USA
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“I went to Joya: AiR seeking patterns of place and how place marks us. Specifically how we hold these markings in the body memory: the smell of home, the topography of the sight line, the way the foot holds the ground.

Inspired by environmental artist, Michele Stuart, I came with paper mounted on muslin to do rubbings in graphite and crayon to collect patterns literally from place: bark, cracks in mud, olive tree leaves.

While looking for patterns in nature, Joya: AiR inspired me to consider human patterns as well. How can our daily habits (our patterns) help ecosystems, create better water systems, restore soil, use energy when it is abundant and not when it is scarce? Fitting into to these natural systems and supporting them seemed to create a whole new form of beauty. Could it be that when we are most naturally aligned with the cycles of life patterns of the earth is when we, too, are most beautiful? 

I come away still wondering how we can remember that we are not separate from the earth, but part of it. And that that relationship, this vital relationship, should be of primary concern, not a thoughtless consequence of living. 

I’ll bring back these patterns and combine them with a figurative sculpture through 3D printing. I’m interested in this ‘Embodied Place’. Can the body and body memories of place (of home)  - info in the body – these patterns, images and symbols from nature that become an intricate part of us – part of our body memory  be a valuable metaphor for deepening our relationship w/nature and ourselves”?

The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people.

Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.

Langston Hughes

Kimberly Callas is a sculptor and Social Practice artist working in both Maine and New Jersey, USA. She uses both handmade and emerging technologies to combine the human body with patterns and symbols from nature focusing on the idea of an ecological self. Art New England called work from her series Portrait of the Ecological Self, “Unforgettable.” Her work has been exhibited internationally in galleries and museums, including Flowers Gallery in New York City and the CICA Museum in Korea . She has received national and international grants and awards, recently a Pollination Project Grant. Callas received her MFA from the New York Academy of Art and her BFA from Stamps School of Art at the University of Michigan. She is an Assistant Professor of Art and Design at Monmouth University.

Kimberly Callas

Joya: AiR / Nana Sawada / Japan / Elliott Haigh / UK
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“Joya: AiR for us was the beginning of a collaborative process after both graduating from Central St Martins UAL, last year. We approached the residency with very little forethought with the intention to let the experience of the place and people guide our approach, with only one set of ideals which was to respond in sculpture. 

After arriving at Joya: AiR it became apparent that the physicality of the landscape captured our attention in the potential of the abundance of clay. We had used clay as a sculpting material before, primarily to make moulds for casting however prior to Joya: AiR we had never worked with natural clay on the spot. We therefore began a learning process of how to refine and mix the clay beneath our feet and the use of cob as a building material. This led to a range of sculptural pieces with process and the heart of the work, through experiments with the clay we also discovered that the making process and outcome were also beginning to emulate the landscape itself in terms of the building of layer after layer evoking the sedimentary layers visible in the landscape. 

We also spent much of our time walking and hiking in the local area, especially in the winding baranco’s where we became captivated with the opportunity to find fossils and the experience of the scale of time that this generates. Over the 2 weeks we developed a small collection of fossils and rocks with which we attempted to weave in to our work to explore the notions of time and place, resulting in a pseudo scientific lab within our studio.

The residency challenged our previous perceptions of making work, which made us reconsider our approach to making art both technically and conceptually. 

Nana Sawada Elliott Haigh .

obra Nana Sawada Elliott Haigh

obra Nana Sawada Elliott Haigh

obra Nana Sawada Elliott Haigh

obra Nana Sawada Elliott Haigh

obra Nana Sawada Elliott Haigh

obra Nana Sawada Elliott Haigh

Joya: AiR / Pamela Aldridge / UK
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


About Joya: AiR

Two weeks working in a friendly environment in which contemplation or interaction can

 be freely chosen has been an invaluable opportunity. Listening to people talking about

 their work, including looking at the night sky with an artist who is working with scientists

 involved with new discoveries, has been an important element of the residency”.

Pamela Aldridge .


Joya: AiR / Alizée Gazeau / France
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“When I arrived at Joya: AiR I had with me one book, Pablo Neruda’s memories.

"Luminous solitude"

There is an old lavandería (hand wash) near the house. One of the stones in the wall of the lavandería was scored with lines and formed a space-time grid.

Una flor que crece.

Flowers, compressed between the paper and this stone, appear on the surface of the drawing. Placed between the space of the paper and that of the stone, the flowers mark a continual temporality. The history of the site mixes with the present realisation of the drawing and the imminent future that the plants represent.

A luminous solitude floods this residency in the heart of the Sierra Maria - Los Velez. I wanted to testify to the luminous sensation that I lost myself in in this dramatic landscape. Long solitary walks along the rocky, arid trails allowed me to find silent answers.

All time limits seemed to be abolished during those weeks.

I wanted to make a second series of drawings that would evoke this idea of radical, absolute and permanent present. I used a mixture of acrylic and clay. By their furtive passage on the surface of the paper, the plants marked their light imprint in reverse.

"Time is the moving image of eternity" and when time is suspended by this radical present where past and future mingle and merge, we experience the flight of time in which we pass. Joya: AiR makes such an absolute present possible; this retreat in the heart of nature invites a radiant dialectic between the passage and suspension of time”.

Alizée Gazeau .

obra de Alizée Gazeau

obra de Alizée Gazeau

Joya: AiR / Pascal Ungerer / Ireland
self portrait for Joya: AiR

self portrait for Joya: AiR


“I have a long standing interest in marginal topographies and often use these peripheral environments as a starting point in my work and that is one of the main reasons I wanted to do a residency at Joya: arte + ecología / AiR. 

I had a hugely productive week at JOYA. I divided my time between staying at Los Gázquez (home of Joya: AiR) and exploring the beautiful surrounding hills and forests there, where I had time to contemplate my work in an incredibly serene environment, as well as driving around and exploring the wider Almería province. I documented and explored old mines, quarries and abandoned houses, as well as near empty villages, and wide expanses of desert landscape, all of which will form the background material for two of my current projects. 

The remoteness, ecology and landscape in this part or Spain is really unique and inspiring as an artist and I found Los Gázquez to be the ideal location to gather source material and explore this part of the country. 

The standard of accommodation and food at JOYA was excellent and by far surpassed my expectations. The ecological ethos of Simon and Donna and their use of sustainable and renewable methods of conservation and energy production is also really inspiring. 

The company there was also great with a real sense camaraderie, which led to many great conversations over diner and a great week at Los Gázquez”.

Pascal Ungerer

Joya: AiR / poet / Andrea Read / USA
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“Having recently completed a full-length poetry collection, I knew I needed a lot of uninterrupted time immersed in nature – and silence – in order to see what might be next. I spent hours each day walking the dirt tracks that wind through almond orchards, hiking up to the peaks of the surrounding sierra, gathering objects and making sound recordings. As part of my creative practice I make artefacts – using paper, objects from the land, photographs, found language, handmade books, text from a manual typewriter – as a way of unearthing my most elusive material. While these tactile artefacts have long been an important part of my composition and revision processes, I am beginning to understand them as thought-objects in their own right.

One of these artefacts is a book-length erasure poem. What started over a year ago as a distraction from those moments when I couldn’t seem to write eventually took on a life of its own. Something about the process of erasing text one page at a time, leaving only whatever felt resonant as poetry, demanded a certain intuitive focus due to the particular limitations of erasure – namely, once you erase text, the field of possibilities changes, and condenses, instantly. The uninterrupted ´ – and the long hikes – allowed me to finish the last remaining, and difficult, pages of the project.

I am grateful for such a restorative two weeks – Simon and Donna’s hospitality, the beautifully simple accommodations, the quiet, the delicious meals, and the enlivening conversations with other artists and interns (Lucy and Maddie)”.

Andrea Read

Andrea Read’s poems have appeared most recently, or are forthcoming, in Barrow Street, Black Rabbit Quarterly, Copper Nickel, FIELD, Ilanot Review, Lily Poetry Review, Plume, The Missouri Review (online Poem-of-the-Week feature), and Tupelo Quarterly (winner of TQ11’s ‘Call & Response’ contest). Her poetry manuscript was a finalist for the Berkshire Poetry Prize.

She was a co-founder of Newforest Institute (2006-2012), an art+permaculture non-profit, where she developed forest-based conceptual artworks including The Women’s Earth Project, a community-based forest management initiative for local women; and Home Again, a handmade broom and sweeping project between Maine and New Jersey.

Andrea earned her PhD from the University of Chicago in Romance Languages and Literatures (specialising in Spanish and Latin American poetry and drama) and an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. A recipient of a National Resource Fellowship, a Tinker Foundation Grant, and an Artist’s Fellowship from the Somerville Arts Council, Andrea has taught creative writing, literature, and language at Stanford University, The University of Chicago, and elsewhere. Currently, she facilitates a weekly poetry workshop at the Jeanne Jugen Residence in Somerville. Andrea divides her time between Massachusetts and Brooks, Maine, where she and her family tend 500 acres of forest.

Joya: AiR / Ania Mokrzycka / Poland
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“I arrived in Vélez Blanco on an early morning; as we drove with Donna to Joya: AiR through the arid landscape, I realised how secluded the residency was. The house was calm and quiet, I quickly settled in and went for a short walk which turned into a five hour hike. When I returned I felt jet-lagged and a bit disoriented - the passage of time felt very different, a sensation that would stay with me during the whole week.

The first few days I was just walking and exploring, going back to places that resonated with me the most, trying to navigate my way and my thinking through them. I was looking at the soil, the dried and cracked clay formations changing colours as I continued walking. Before coming to Joya: AIR I naively assumed I would be able to easily extract wet clay - a material I have recently worked a lot with. Instead, digging in the ground that has not experienced rain for months, I was left with fistfuls of chalky pieces of various sizes.

I spent the week working with still and moving images, sound recording and reading. I experimented with rehydrating clay and making small objects thinking about ancient Iberian idols. I experienced the Equinox, the moon’s bright light and the pronounced shadows it casted. I thought about the gesture of mark making, its duration and transient nature. Reading “Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More than Human Worlds” by María Puig de la Bellacasa I was drawn to the concept of making time and searching for different ways of engagement with alternative temporalities.

It felt like for a week I was in a different state of being in the environment and with my work. In the silent and beautiful interior of the house I had the needed space to process intense experiences of the outside. Coming together every evening after days spent mostly in solitude, talking with other residents and volunteers and enjoying incredible meals cooked by Donna was nourishing and very special.

I am yet to go through all the gathered material, but I know it is full of new threads, thoughts and sketches, and I am curious to see how they evolve”.

Ania Mokrzycka .

Joya: AiR / Sarah Thomas / UK
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“I came to Joya: AiR at the beginning of a new phase in my life and in my creative practice. I am for the first time making artwork that is explicitly about myself and I wanted to use the opportunity of this residency in such a unique place to be both a contemplative and productive space to further explore this new autobiographical investigation.

When first hearing about Joya: AiR I was fascinated by its location in one of the sunniest regions in Europe and I wanted this to be an area of focus for my practice whilst here. I am interested in the idea of documenting and capturing the physical and psychological influence that such a place has had on me as a person and as an artist. I know that the sun and warmer climates can have a substantially positive impact upon my well being and subsequently my creative productivity.

Before I came to Joya: AIR I read a book by Linda Geddes called ‘Chasing the Sun’ which talks about how our biology is set up to work in partnership with the sun. From our sleep cycles to our immune systems and our mental health, sunlight is crucial for living a happy and fulfilling life. I find living in a light polluted world increasingly looking at my laptop screen either as part of my day to day life or art practice is having a negative impact. This recent default to use artificial aesthetics and digital methods to create artwork was something that I wanted to challenge whilst at the residency. Being at Joya: AiR has given me the space I needed to experience being creative in a physical place and to be in the moment, being here and working in the beautiful surroundings has greatly reduced my dependency on digital technology.

The landscape around Joya is breathtaking from the monumental hills to the colour of the soil to the wind blowing through the pines, it has made me want to slow down and truly observe everything around me. My two weeks at Joya was just what I needed, I have so many new ideas that have been formed here that I want to develop further. I have been able to play, see things in a new way and take risks with my work.

I am so grateful to Simon and Donna, the volunteers and all the artists for making Joya: AiR such a welcoming, inspiring and productive residency, it is truly a special place”.

Sarah Thomas

Joya: AiR / Peter Ranyard / Australia
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“I have always been drawn to the constructed object, particularly those abandoned. The fragile nature of made objects is a constant reminder of our impermanence and that sometimes their beauty is a result of neglect and the patina that is acquired through the process of decay. I tried, through my time at Joya: Air, to explore these ideas. The story of Simon and Donna’s efforts in creating Joya: Air is immensely interesting, as is the history of the area. Coming from Australia, I am used to dry, difficult environments: it took me a few days to settle into a rhythm and begin to really look at what was available photographically. Each day bought a better appreciation of the landscape, the history, and the  markers of the place. As we realise how finite our world is, there is a desire to protect what is left of our natural and urban worlds, and indeed to take steps to not only protect but to enshrine them in our collected conscience. Population increases, modernisation, changing diets and war all place immense pressure on our ability to manage our urban and natural landscapes. 

Susan Sontag wrote of our diminishing touch with our past and that our objects should “have a patina, old furniture, grandparents’ pots and pans–the used things, warm with generations of human touch, ...essential to a human landscape. Instead, we have our paper phantoms, transistorised landscapes. A featherweight portable museum.”

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Joya: Air, living for a short time, in an ecologically sustainable environment, and spending time with a diverse group of talented, engaging artists.

Peter Ranyard

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Dylan Cram / Canada
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“I came to Joya arte + ecología / AIR in another state of mind. Things were framed-in pretty heavily after getting my degree and applying for residencies and shows. But after being at Joya: AiR for a week I can honestly say that my perspective shifted on a somewhat geological level. It begins with the landscape; arriving at night it was the headlights chasing rabbits down the dirt road, and the stars like I haven’t seen in years. But very quickly, I adjusted to life around the dinner table, the long discussions forming an all-to-uncommon thread between art and experience which belong to both and neither at the same time.

In the broader sense, my project aim was to expand on my Master’s thesis, which investigated shifts between embodied media, forms of representation and technology. My intention was to engage in an open-ended search for transitory forms – something that speaks to a zone in between technology and nature, bridging the global and the specific; the impersonal and the personal. By analysing my surroundings, either through traditional or technological means, I could acquire information which could then be pushed into a transitory state, existing in more than one medium simultaneously – in various roles, or layers, to greater or lesser degrees. This is what I came in with, and I can say that it was achieved, but I learned something else that I now view as more important.

As the specificity of the place itself unfolded (that is, the broader project of Simon and Donna that is Joya arte + ecología ), me and my art process became noticeably affected. Art has often been considered a surplus activity, and achieving surplus while remaining carbon neutral in such an environment is anything but automatic. I quickly realised the connection between the wind turbine and my computer processor was not something to be taken for granted. To borrow a pun: the generative power of Joya is real, traceable and earned.

Somehow, the premise of my project allowed me to become integrated into the fibrous network of natural and man-made elements and events: swales, wind storms, meandering hikes and endearing conversations filtered directly in. As a result, I found myself and my art-attempts moving in perfectly concentric circles. While things orbited and spun in my studio, I circled out into the kitchen or to the piano, or into discussions with the others. Then, out to the borders of the house, and beyond into the garden to dig and clear, or out into the surrounding hills to walk up and down the tributaries, circling and scanning objects. This concentric formalism increased my understanding of the landscape, the people around me, and my work and it is not something I will soon forget.

Dylan Cram

Weimar, Germany

Joya: AiR / Emily Corbett / Canada
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


”Joya: AiR is an artist’s haven woven into a landscape of mountains and almond tree fields. The studios were the perfect balance of solitude and community. The days were productive and filled with painting, writing and exploring the landscape around the property for hours. The outdoor exploration spanned several kilometres in every direction and would rarely include a sighting of another person. In my creative work I was able to explore new techniques that I will continue to use and hope to explore further. The evenings were filled with good conversations with other residents and Simon and Donna, and of course wonderful food. 

Thank you both, Simon and Donna.

Emily Corbett

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Walter Lewis / UK
photo by Simon Beckmann

photo by Simon Beckmann


¨My visit to Joya: AiR in February 2019 was a second stay, some 12 months after first visiting this unique place. I returned to try to complete a project borne out of the experience of my first visit. I am a photographer who seeks to challenge our general lack of relationship with the world around us, in particular looking to narrate my personal experiences of place and space in hope of inspiring others to see the world anew. I booked on a residency with Joya in 2018 intrigued but with an open mind. I was quickly captivated by Cortijada Los Gázquez (home of Joya: AiR) and its surrounds. A love affair had begun.

Cortijada Los Gázquez sits in a vast bowl of land within the Sierra Maria mountains of Andalucía, some 3,000 feet above sea level. The surrounding land is arid and barren – indeed technically it is desert so small is the annual rainfall. Agriculturally it is fit only for almonds and a few cereals, with a constant battle to keep at bay the marauding pine trees which fill the rest of the area - give them half a chance and they take over virtually anywhere. 

Just a few dirt track roads run through the area. The place is littered with abandoned farms as people have left for the surrounding towns – and even emigration - and a more comfortable, on-grid living. As a result you just get the odd passing car – often a hunter looking for wild boar - or tractor carrying a solitary commuting farmer who has come in to work on his crops. Otherwise just ghosts.

The result is that you can walk miles without seeing another human being, oblivious to anything outside the immediate stark yet beautiful landscape. It’s a landscape often ripped asunder by the storm water channels or 'barrancos' gouged out of the land by infrequent but torrential rains when they do come. Such torrents though are of increasing in frequency as climate change grips the earth, they seem to represent a foretaste of our own disappearance. Thus, whilst walking alone I walked with the ghosts of past, present and future as my constant company.

On my return to the UK, I found unable to get out everything that I wanted from the images I had made. I needed to return. I was lucky enough to have the time and money to be able to do so and have Simon and Donna welcome me again. Time will tell whether I can now express the unique experiences with a collection of images. I will post a link here to the result when I do. In the meantime, a brief insight into the sort of thing that might arise can be gained from a quick glance at my website –

Walter Lewis

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Kathryn Hughes / Wales / UK
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“I came to Joya: AiR for the solitude, serenity and clarity of mind that I envisaged a week-long residency in an off-grid location in Andalusia would provide. I am currently writing a thesis on philosophy, concerning certain elements of contemporary ‘post-digital’ culture, more specifically how our interactions with digital devices translate our bodies, identities and subjective experiences into algorithms and a ‘data-language’ that leaves a trace of us somewhere in the ether of a ‘virtual space’; a phenomenon that many of us still can’t quite begin to fully grasp, understand or even comprehend.

 The landscape and microclimate of the Sierra Maria-Los Velez Natural Park is one of extremes, and it’s difficult not to be constantly awestruck by its startling natural beauty and deep tranquillity; time seemed slower and stiller there, the senses more in tune with elemental rhythms. Trail running through this testing terrain, negotiating the loose and rocky ground underfoot, became a humbling experience, made bearable by immersion in the densely wooded pine forests of the north-facing slopes, incredible views across the steep sloping valleys, and the occasional glimpse of prematurely blossoming almond trees.

Inspired by conversations with the other resident artists, about trekking to find the prehistoric cave paintings located nearby- preserved on the surface walls of a steep, rocky overhanging shelter within a sheer rock-face- my thinking process began to expand towards how language, writing-systems, drawing, mark-making, and painting developed thousands of years ago, as our primary human technologies for communication and meaning-making. This, in turn, prompted me to take my own writing practice out of the studio and into the terrain of the Sierra Maria-Los Velez Natural Park, drawing small-scale binary code interventions onto the exposed limestone surfaces of the landscape, minor gestures to make-visible the increasingly predominant ‘writing’-system of our digital age.”

Kathryn Hughes

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Natalia Kasprzycka / Poland
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“The moment I arrived at Joya: AiR, the only noise I could hear was the ringing inside my own head –  no doubt a symptom of a city creature being transferred outside of its habitat. As days followed and every step I took into the quiet air of Sierra María-Los Vélez sounded like a bag of stones being dropped into the undergrowth, I wondered about the invasive potential of human presence on a previously unknown territory.  

Joya: AiR, however, is a place where intelligent human intervention becomes a form of care for the land. Simon and Donna built their residency on the unique history of the landscape and constructed their living space and resource systems with respect to its nature and limitations, without asking it for more than it can give.

So, human intervention as cooperation with the landscape.

I kept that in mind as I worked around this question: how to be present without being invasive?

I played with the idea of leaving gentle traces, objects which in their own time will dissolve, disappear.

I experimented with the land's native materials – limestone, white, green, red clays, pigments, pine resin as well as its strong, unique vegetation, often spiky or thorny, or otherwise adapted

to the difficult, dry climate. 

My mind went out to Robert Smithson, Anthony Goldsworthy and Chris Drury. 

Claire Fisher, a common friend of Simon's, Donna's and mine and a big supporter of my work was the one who thought I should come here. Claire, you were right, thank you for making this happen. 

Thank you Simon and Donna, all the artists and volunteers for making this a very special, productive and though-provoking time”. 


Natalia Kasprzycka

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Violetta Paez - Argentina / Maria Paris - Columbia
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


Maria is a Colombian artist based in Paris working with text, publication and various researches on myth, time, distance and repetition, a continual conversation and inquiry about fact and belief, myth and reality. Violeta is an Argentinian writer based in London working with curation and performative lectures that aim to think affectively, theoretically and politically about sustainability and living amongst other species. 

“We went to Joya: AiR to work on ´To say soft is not to say tender´,  a collaborative project involving a publication and a series of lectures on ideas of translatability, language and sustainability. 

We’ve been working on collaborative projects like Twice and elsewhere an online platform consisting of a series of monthly exchanges between two artists from different contexts.

 During our time in the residency, we spent a lot of time laying the foundations for a new project, discussing what each one of us wanted to work on. 

Being in Joya gave us the unique experience of being isolated while working, which gave us the opportunity to spend an unlimited amount of time to discuss and argue and forced us to stay with the project and with the process of collaborating that can be uncomfortable at times. 

Besides our collaboration being surrounded by other artists was extremely helpful, as there were a lot of conversations and peer discussions with other artists, Simon and Donna. Each night,  one of the participating artists presented their work before dinner, it was a unique opportunity to discuss work in a relaxed amicable context. As the artists were from around the world and didn’t know each other, the exchange was very fertile. To have to talk about your practice in a context where is not usually shown and to people that are not already familiar with it, makes you look at it from different perspectives. 

It was really good to hear from Simon about how the house functions and the different sustainable systems that allow them to reutilise resources and produce as little waste as possible. 

From a more personal point of view being able to spend time with the landscape was refreshing as we were both coming from fast-paced cities and cloudy winters.  

Thanks for such a wonderful experience! 

Violeta Paez and Maria Paris

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Robyn Jacob / musician / Canada
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“Before arriving in Spain, I was gearing up for this residency with ambitious goals. I intended to earnestly begin work on my next larger musical composition, be it for one of my bands or another ensemble. I was going to bask in the benefit of unstructured time and pound out an opus. The week before arriving, my project Only A Visitor released our second full length album. Between the release that gave me, and my recent readings of composer John Luther Adams, who writes a lot about compositional process, I realized that my initial goals were needing readjustment. I instead decided that I would “do” and “make” very little, taking off the pressure. I wanted to really open up, become a vessel. I’m so glad that I made that change to my plans, and this residency has been the absolute perfect place to do that.

The first morning that I was at Joya: AiR, I was very jet lagged and up at 5am, which happened to coincide with the “blood moon” full lunar eclipse – I could see it from bed! That set the stage for a deeply resonant week. Even though some participants stays overlapped with mine for only a day or so, I felt like I learned a lot from the other participants. Putting together a short presentation helped me solidify my current lens into my artistic practice. Long walks, exploring, listening to the landscape; a few ideas came to me during this time that seem like such obvious directions for me, but I really feel that I would not have been able to access them if I was at home. 

The food, the design, the space, the quiet, the stars, the dedication to sustainable living both environmentally and psychologically: this place is a true gem.

I am so grateful for Simon and Donna and what they have cultivated here at Joya: AiR. Even a short stay of one week has given me a lot, and I am thankful to be able to carry that back with me to my every day in Vancouver”.

Robyn Jacob

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Liv Solberg Andersen / Norway

”I am almost always thinking about the next painting I am going to paint, the next idea I want to try out, or what I am deeply engaged with. And somehow I think my interest is very much about the body, the embodiment. To see the remains of a process, to see that something has happened, even if the motive is representational. I am always searching for those things and it offers a kind of meaning. Since I usually paint and work alone in my studio, I think it is very healthy for me to go to a residency like this and meet other artists. The conversations help me understand more of what I am looking for, more of myself, and my view of life.

I brought my grown up daughter. We only meet about three times a year, so this intense week lead us into joyful and deeper conversations of arts and life. We enjoyed walks in the nature reserve, and both of us were really inspired by the ecological way of living. We want to bring elements of that with us home.

Since I live in a small city in Norway with no sunshine six months of the year, it is no secret that I appreciated the sun of Spain this week, which we got pretty much of. I collected colours. On a distance you could think that the landscape is all the same pale ochre, but that is not true. When you look closer, you can see a lot of variations of yellow, raw sienna, purple, crimson, brown, white, green, and even blue. And lines. You will find wonderful fragrances from dry wild herbs when you crush them between your fingers. I believe these sensory experiences will influence my on-going and future work”.

Liv Solberg Anderson, Rjukan, Norway






Liv Solberg Andersen

Rjukan, February 1, 2019

Simon Beckmann
Joya: AiR / Jennifer Wenker / artist-curator / USA
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“I keep coming back to layers and time—geologic, metamorphic, metaphysical, personal—and the way we understand them. Or, fail to understand our place in time.  The way we use time, spend time, waste time, busy ourselves in actions and labor and production without reflection, without wondering whether we are happy, whether our busyness makes any contribution to care or beauty or meaning or joy.

We spend most of our days here, hearing almost nothing.  It is so gorgeously silent that I’ve come to notice small things.  The wind turbine, still and silent, suddenly animated by an invisible force, and sound emerges from the turning blades, piercing the quiet—making me suddenly aware of the wind on my own face, moving my hair against my cheek.

I am aware that I cannot hear birds in the daylight.  They are briefly here in the early darkness and then they go somewhere else most of our waking hours, returning to the mountain late in the evening.  I hear nothing but my own footsteps negotiating the rocky alluvial beds as sand slides beneath my shoes rhythmically shifting chalky stones to powder on the desert roads.

I am aware of my keyboard strokes.  I am aware of a small honeybee flying nearby my ear.  When someone else is near, we share quiet rhythms and our patterns become layered.  My keyboard clicks, Louie’s weaving bobbin taps against the loom frame, French music plays softly from his phone.  Caz’s paper catches a bit of breeze and flaps about.

We are all engaged in a dance to understand one another’s rhythms—of waking, sharing coffee and kitchen space, working, walking, talking, sharing space in the studio or on the sunny west facing wall at sunset, or sharing wine, or conversation at dinner, of resting and reading and working again into the night.  Knowing how to be in a shifting space with others, all creative and differently paced, from cultures and languages and traditions and disciplines and time zones that daily shift the balance and cause one to renegotiate one’s own contribution to the whole, as well as when to withdraw and retreat from it to create.

We are each layered in this space and these moments, for a brief time of regeneration, reflection and renewal.  Are we called to produce work while in residency—or is this a time to be fully exploratory, where we are fully permitted not to produce, but instead to be porous and to draw love and care and newness into ourselves without expectation or commodification of the time spent?  Are we permitted to just exist and move and walk and collect and observe and rest and dream and wonder?

* * *

Stringing up Clotheslines and Standing Beneath Stars



What do the clotheslines mean?  Are they about domesticity, repetition, feminine work, in concert with daily rhythms?  It feels like it might be about the layers again, and about time? We are so small and insignificant in such a vast landscape.  But here, where water and resources are vastly differently regarded, even the simple work of washing takes on a different level of importance than it does at home where water is not regarded at all.  

I save my bucketfuls of cold shower water to refill the cistern tanks—and those two buckets matter.  Here small acts are significant in ways you rarely consider. Every turn of the wind turbine is a reminder that the wind is a gift and that it is needed and valuable and provides energy for the pump to bring water through the copper pipes to the sinks and the showers.  

In this landscape, the elements are regarded with care and the rhythms of wind and sun and light and darkness, dryness and rain are present with such clarity here that it is impossible to take any of these things for granted.  

We have learned to adjust our own patterns to the established rhythms of the high desert; we work with the daylight, we use water as if it is precious (and it is), we make our creative work and take our walks and warm our bodies outside most of the day—in the warming sun, and then in perfect concert with the sun, we retreat to the woodstove as soon as the sun slips behind the mountain peak, where we gather afghans and our dog-eared books to read and reflect and collect our thoughts.

Heat is not taken for granted either—not like a furnace at home—but instead the fire attracts us to it, like kids around a campfire.  It feels physically wonderful and everything about the wood heat and the setting of the gathering room, in fact, invites us to gather. Layered in colorful down pillows and afghans and soft light and fireglow.  It makes me think about why most living rooms focus on the television and not on each other. Here, conversation and care flow easily.

And, meals here are about so much more than feeding the body calories—hours are spent preparing fresh simple ingredients into layers of color and flavors and textures and aromas. We eat Spanish time, about 9 pm and the anticipation of what might emerge from the kitchen is part of the joy here.  Always simple, usually vegan, made from humble ingredients—sweet potatoes, chickpeas, couscous, quinoa, lemon, fresh greens, beautiful aromatic herbs.

We have bottles of local wine and a table set with pillar candles every evening and we stay at the table, gathered and telling stories lingering for hours after dinner.  I am enamored with their ability to keep a conversation so incredibly funny and lively. I am aware of how much we don’t know about the art of hosting while I am in the presence of gifted thinkers and storytellers.  Every night has been deeply affecting—or hysterically funny.

Our usual rhythm: coffee, coffee, coffee, tea, tea, beer, beer, wine, sip of water at dinner, then wine, wine and wine.

* *

Layers and time and rhythms and value/Commodity/Labor

When do we get time to sort it all out?  

I think this is my reason for being here.  To be. Just be.  No prescribed reason or schedule or expectation of labor or output.  We already do that all the time. Here in residency is a re-set, a time to consider things or rest or think different thoughts—reading, walking, making—or not making, evaluating what it all means—all of it—and being open and willing to be fully porous—to whatever else there is, and perhaps making different (or the same) choices in our lives.  Are we on the path we want to be on? Are we making decisions and choices that we’ve actually consciously chosen or are we on a conveyer belt to God knows where without considering other options?

We can choose to put ourselves in the path of beauty, but do we?  Have we?

Do we surround ourselves with beauty in the objects we keep in our private spaces, our public spaces, our work spaces?  In the activities we choose? In the daily work we do? Do we choose to surround ourselves with beautiful spirits and creative, optimistic lovers of life, or not?  Why not?

So, layers….

Sunlight, folds, ripples, waves, moving in invisible currents.

Buttery yellows pressing up against azure color fields.  Cloth and wind.

Starry, glittery twinkling flickers in an impossibly vast Universe, under which I am imperceptibly small.  I am obsessed every night to witness them. To just be underneath them. In awe of them. Time will pass whether I see them or not, but I want to be here, awake.  I want to be present. I want the magic.

The sheets are probably about magic too.

The golden hour is so brief—never an hour, of course—ten golden minutes if you’re lucky enough to catch it.  And, I want to be there too. To be present for the final performance of the evening. The final act before we all retreat inside, and gather around a different radiance.  The light is everything.  Aren’t we all drawn to the light?  The warmth of fire, of candles, of sunrises and sunsets, of color and heat and all-consuming oneness with something vast and beautiful?  

* * *

We do not walk on the earth

but in it, wading

in that acid sea

where flesh is etched from

molten bone and re-forms.

In this massive tide

warm as liquid

sun, all waves are one

wave; there is no other.

--Margaret Atwood

Circe/Mud Poems

* * *

Thank you Donna and Simon, Soli and Sessi for sharing your magic.   I am humbled by the daily ways you transform the humble into the extraordinary through JOYA. Caz, Natalia, Catie, Dayna, Lucy, Louie, Bjørn, Mia, Maria, Violetta, Mai—your light warmed my spirit—each one of you a treasured part of my experience of this magical space and time.

xo, Jennifer 'Jenny' Wenker

Jennifer Wenker is a curator and conceptual eco-artist living and working near the Appalachian foothills. Born into the era that also birthed the environmental movement, the feminist movement and social and racial justice movements, Jennifer was brought up in an era of both peace and protest, echoing her family’s Quaker heritage of active social justice and non-violence. Intellectually and spiritually, her curatorial and studio practice reside in that "in between" space, negotiating conflicting points of view and drawing connections. Her home, the edge of Appalachia--a financially impoverished area rich in scrappy resourcefulness--is often reflected in her work’s thrifty DIY sensibility.  Jennifer’s work is infused with a natural ecological awareness—of cycles—interrelatedness and interdependence. Her studio work is smart and spare in form, ripe with conceptual content and poetry, deftly moving among photography, sculpture, dust paintings, mud and manure seed bombs, video, installations, community art actions and dialogical engagement. Her curatorial focus is on cross-pollination between seemingly divergent ideas and areas of thought.

Since 2014, Jennifer has been the Creative Director of the Herndon Gallery at Antioch College, an historically activist and progressive liberal arts college with a strong history of environmental and social justice work, where she has been curating contemporary interdisciplinary exhibitions which directly engage with critical social-environmental issues. 

Jennifer Wenker
Creative Director of the Herndon GalleryChair of Arts at Antioch

Joya: AiR / Catie Rutledge / USA
photo Simon Beckmann

photo Simon Beckmann


“I feel alien and American.”

-Journal entry from Day 2

“In retrospect I can see that part of Joya: AiR was a reckoning with my creative doubt and anxiety. In the span of a week I worked on a watercolor mock-up for costume embroidery, a series of photographs of objects I have been working with in my performances in the surrounding landscape, some very brief planning of a performance I would like to do in a more traditional theatrical setting, and a flag. I was at Joya: AiR during what is now the longest government shutdown in American history, and conversations at dinner every night inevitably turned towards politics. How could they not? Government workers were working without pay, Brexit was a mess, protests were continuing in Paris. By the second day I was thinking about how to make an American flag out of the materials I had brought with me as a way to reckon with the current cultural and political moment. I wound up embroidering a pink satin shirt I had been using in my teenage bedroom performances and attaching it to a long stick I later learned was used to knock almonds out of trees, combining my own symbols with that of Joya’s. I asked Natalia, another resident at Joya, to film me holding the flag in the blustery wind on the last day of my residency. Although I couldn’t see it from the inside, I spent my time at Joya responding to the new place I was in and the new people I was with. It wasn’t a time of energetic, relentless creation so much as a time for digestion, for taking hikes and getting lost, for meeting new people, and for eating delicious food. The time I had at Joya was special: I met artists I plan on staying in contact with and tried things I couldn’t have expected before I arrived. Thanks to Simon, Donna, Lucy, Dayna, Maria, Violeta, Natalia, Jenny, and Mai for everything¨.

Catie Rutledge

Simon Beckmann