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Two Sundays before Memorial Day in the year 2000, I made my last commute home from New York City.  For nearly four years I had been making a bi-weekly loop from Providence to Manhattan and back again, Friday to Sunday.  The route had become routine and, unfortunately, so had the relationship that inspired it.  On this particular Sunday I knew that I wouldn’t be making to loop again and I also knew that I was returning to terra incognita.  Although Providence was my longtime home, attentiveness to New York had eroded my sense of community and my sense of personal trajectory.  As much as I was driving the I-95 corridor, I was also traveling back and forward in time, trying to remember who I was before I met Bill, trying to imagine what my life would be without Bill.

 

Twelve years earlier, I deferred graduate school to take a one-year internship at Brown University’s Center for Public Service.  I made a conscious decision to step outside of my art practice and to explore other insistent voices and to consider how I might develop a practice as an educator and activist.  I painted along the way, but lost touch with my aspirations to explore the world by making things. As I drove home from New York, I considered the hopes and interests I had deferred in the interest of establishing myself professionally, developing economic security, and pursuing a monogamous, hetero-normative relationship.  I wondered how I had compromised and maneuvered myself so deftly as to have located myself solidly in a place of which I had never imagined or dreamed. I wondered how I had come to be living a life that didn’t seem to quite be mine – both in my ability to influence its direction and in my sense of disconnection from its values. I wondered how I might re-locate myself in a more intentional place, re-new my sense of community, and become more transparent in my actions and decisions.  I realized that I needed to make a drastic change, I needed to do something for myself, I needed to apply to the Goddard MFA-IA program.

 

It’s been a wild three years and I owe many people thanks for their love and support along the way.  I want to thank my colleagues at the Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University, especially Janet Isserlis, Kris Hermanns, Heather Flewelling, Kath Connolly, and Kerri Heffernan.  Without your support and understanding, this wouldn’t have been possible.  I also want to thank Kenneth Sacks for his friendship, advice, and thoughtful counsel throughout this process and over the past several years.  Paul Armstrong, Nancy Dunbar, and Karen Sibley have been remarkably supportive, encouraging, and understanding supervisors.  I owe them my deep thanks for enabling me to take a leave from the Swearer Center to complete my final semester at Goddard.

 

My friends have been incredible throughout this process, whether it was simply understanding my need for space and time, sitting as models as I learned to paint the figure, reading and commenting on my website, or listening to dramatic readings of drafts.  Of particular note, I want to acknowledge Kurt Hall, Phoebe Simpson, Luis Astudillo, and Gina Gionfriddo.  I’m also grateful to distant and traveling friends:  Melissa Murphy, Caleb Dawkins, and Jenny Kutnow.  I’ve been lucky to meet and make new friends while studying at Goddard.  I’m indebted to Susan Colburn Motta for her encouragement of my work and her invitations to speak to her students and to the incomparable Janice Perry, who’s emails always seemed to bring light to my darkest moments.  Through my work on the Internet I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to meet many people and am grateful to those who have taken the time and given the energy to engage with me:  Kevin, Alexander, Andrew, Shane, Terry, Jason, Steve, Van, Andy, Alexandre and Ben. Many thanks to the delightful Michael Brisson, who continues to feed me excellent music for painting. Of all the people I’ve met over the Internet, I’ve been particularly blessed through one association.  To Ethan Shoshan I can only say that it’s been breath-taking to make meaning with you.  I owe you more than I can say.  I hope I’ve offered something in return.

 

I’ve been fortunate to work with great advisors: Ruth Wallen, Cynthia Ross and Catherine Lord. I thank each of you for your time, attentive readings and patience.  Pam Hall was my advisor for two semesters and my second reader.  She forms a point in a special community and it seems fitting to acknowledge them collectively.  Thank you Pam, Dorick Scarpelli and Philip Moore for trusting me enough to get lost together and for loving me enough to do the work to find our way home. It’s to you “angels” that I dedicate this work.

 

 

Peter Hocking

Providence, Rhode Island