Wormfarm, Extraction, IDS13, and the Peace Hotel

Wormfarm Institute / Extraction


I spent the early part of autumn this year as an artist-in-residence at the Wormfarm Institute in Reedsburg, Wisconsin. In many ways, my experience there was everything it was promised to be – an engagement in the life of a working farm. I harvested a variety of produce, learned to distinguish different types of tomatoes, and even made and canned ketchup from scratch.

Working in the garden, I learned how natural conditions directly impact the quality of various vegetables. I witnessed first hand the effect of frost on certain crops, and also gained some understanding of how a farm operates as a system. My perception of food, both how it’s produced and its role in the economy, changed significantly as a result. So much so, in fact, that I find it difficult to believe how ignorant I was only a few months ago.

While I will no longer be able to maintain as direct a relationship with my food here in Chicago as I did at the Wormfarm, I will definitely be making lifestyle changes to bring me closer to my food source. I know now the amount of time and energy required to grow organically, and how important it is for consumers to support local produce.

At the beginning of October, I spent several days setting up my installation for the Farm/Art DTour. Constructed out of recycled silage bags and fiberglass fence posts, Extraction spanned about 500 feet across a hillside visible from the road. As you travelled along the route, the orientation of the work changed, beginning with one color and ending with another. Reflecting on the project now, I can’t help but notice the parallel between this aspect of my installation and the change in my attitude towards food and farming.

 Interior Design Show

In January, I will be heading back to Toronto to create an installation for the main entrance of the Interior Design Show. As Canada’s largest contemporary design fair, the event will play host to over 300 exhibitors, and feature influential designers and architects from around the world.

Needless to say, this a wonderful context in which to showcase my work, and I’m very grateful and excited about this opportunity.

Swatch Art Peace Hotel

I am very happy to announce that I have been invited to be an artist-in-residence at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai. Constructed in 1908, the Peace Hotel has had a long and varied history, at one time being the residence of the revolutionary leader Sun Yat-Sen.

In 2010, Swatch bought the Peace Hotel and converted two stories into live/work spaces for 18 artists from around the world at a time. I will be staying there for a period of six months starting in April 2013.

With its location at the corner of the Bund and Nanjing Road, the Hotel is in one of the busiest sections of the city. This will be my first international artist residency, and I’m looking forward to a productive and inspiring experience.

Video Game

And finally, despite everything, I have finally managed to start working on a video game. It’s going pretty slow at the moment, as there is quite a lot to learn. However, it has been a lot of fun so far, and even now I can see the potential to make some very interesting work in this medium. I’m hoping that by the next newsletter, I will have some basic sketches and working images to share with you.

The Future

That’s pretty much it from me for now. I hope you are having a beautiful autumn, wherever you are, and I wish you a happy thanksgiving in advance.

All the best,
Willy Chyr