During June, Penelope Anstruther searched around the abandoned Simpson Paper Mill property and buildings for metal objects that she could turn into her art work. She will have a gallery show for the public at The Mill on Thursday, June 28 from 7-8:30 p.m. Anstruther, from Oakland, Calif., is the Prairie Ronde Artist in Residence, living for a month in Vicksburg.
She is the second Artist in Residence that The Mill has sponsored. May Hong from New York City was here in May and painted a classic 50’ x 20’ mural featuring abstract mill-related motifs on one of the west walls in the old manufacturing plant.
Anstruther will be on hand to talk about her work. Guests should enter the property through the south gate on Highway Street and park in the lot closest to the west wing entrance. After entering the building through the glass doors that were once the mill’s main entrance, guests should climb the stairs to the second floor and follow the way-finding markers to the space, located in the northwest corner of the building. All are welcome, but visitors need to bear in mind that the Mill is an active construction site with no elevators, minimal lighting, trip hazards, and a single portable toilet.
The Mill project is designed to be a celebration of people who create and innovate and do things. The Prairie Ronde Artist Residency is a logical offshoot of that thinking, said John Kern, who came up with this innovative idea for bringing in artists to create their work on site at The Mill. The residency web site points out that “Prairie Ronde” comes from the French phrase for “round meadow,” evoking the “islands of grasses and wildflowers that once dotted the landscape of southwest Michigan.”
“We’re just expanding on the legacy of Vicksburg’s eagerness to celebrate art and creative thought and recognize that we’re in a unique situation to provide artists with the time and space to do something that is truly special,” Kern said.
Applications to become a Prairie Ronde Artist in Residence were sent out across the country in early 2018. Artists have been housed on mill property, provided with a stipend and given access to every part of the mill to create.
Kern’s direction to the participants was this: “They need to exhibit a very clear vision of how they’ll use the space that we provide and they need to carefully consider ways in which they can give back to the community. We don’t limit our thinking in terms of what an artist’s focus might be – in the coming months, our residents will include an author, a musical composer, and a visual artist. All of them are linked by a desire to use The Mill as their catalyst, but the outcomes of the experience are entirely of their design.”
“Looking forward, we’d like to see the Prairie Ronde Artist Residency grow to become an internationally renowned and highly sought-after residency that places Vicksburg prominently on the map as a place where people go to do interesting and creative things in a charming, historic village. This is already starting to happen; Penelope, our second international participant, is here right now and the third is due here in a few weeks,” Kern said.