Bookended Podcasts - Artist in the Community Residency Comes to a Close

"I was not just interacting with an art crowd, and I think that was the greatest responsibility I placed on myself: to be as inclusive as possible, and to communicate fluidly about creative practice in as accessible of terms and accessible of settings as possible."

As my Artist in the Community Residency was coming to a close, I was invited back to the City Podcast with Christopher George to reflect on my time in Spartanburg and the evolution of my practice over the last year. Christopher is a fantastic interviewer and editor, and we really covered a lot of ground in this conversation. 

If you're interested in hearing the first podcast, recorded in early September 2016, a few weeks after my arrival to Spartanburg, click here

Family Vacations I Have Never Taken

Referencing iconic destinations and women’s work, multidisciplinary artist Lydia See’s newest series of embroidered vernacular photographs invites the viewer to consider one’s own memories and how time and circumstance may have altered them.

With more ubiquitous access to digital cameras and mobile devices comes an extreme lack of physical prints being made, a premise which prompted the concept behind Family Vacations I Have Never Taken. The transience of photographs, social media timelines, and instant sharing has replaced the communal nature of vacation slide shows and family albums. These works invite a closer consideration of place, experience, and memory-making. Memories are not stored in brains in an orderly or systematic way, they are re-creations or reconstructions of past experiences from elements scattered throughout various areas of our brains.

Utilizing embroidery, a stereotypically “feminine” domestic craft, applied to images of sites commonly associated with masculinity and new frontiers, “The Classic American Road Trip” never taken is recreated by stitching together memory elements which never occurred, fabricating a fictional journey, obscuring and highlighting detail, drawing attention to what is held and released in one’s memory and allowing the photograph to supersede the absent memory itself.

The panoramic images were taken by the artist’s Uncle Charlie and Aunt Joan (who stated in response to the works: “Interesting contrast in the careful, precise stitching and the natural free forms of the eroded rocks, also that the actual textures are paradoxical, soft for precise and hard for sculptured.”) between 1997-2002. The sewing thread used for embroidery was given by Aunt Jean, and the works (titled according to notations on the backs of images when available) were created by Lydia See between October 2016 and February 2017.

download press release here


practice/process, self doubt, and old work

While in a whirlwind of new-work-making one of the drawbacks is that I'm not as great at sharing the work with the world. Unless I have a show or a specific reason to show or tell beyond glimpses on Instagram, I often let it sit. Especially my photographs. I make them and then...?

I go through the various (grief-like) stages of/responses to making: deep love and admiration of the work and myself for making it, complex self-deprecation, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel excitement at the glimpse of a solution to a material or conceptual investigation, exponentially expanding line of questioning on the point of art and art-making in general, and myriad other modes of making myself miserable until I get to a place of near completion, at which point I often hide the thing away and pretend it never happened. 

Then I have a reason to look at the work: refreshing my cv, applying for residencies, doing some much-needed website updates, and I come across something that I had forgotten, or a WHOLE BODY OF WORK that I neglected to do anything with for some of the aforementioned reasons, that causes me to stop and consider the work.

And I often like it. Sometimes I even think it's pretty good, and I wonder why I never did anything with it, or, at the very least, put it up on my website.

So I'm working my way through some pretty deep archives, especially the 4"x5" and medium format negatives from the last few years, and the photographs I made in another life. Until I figure out where all this work fits in with the rest of my work, it'll be here. 

So, here's a smattering to start, all taken in early 2015:





Hello All! Lydia See here - It's been a whirlwind of a few weeks here in Spartanburg. I'm so thrilled to be the first Artist in the Community Artist in Residence in partnership with HUB-BUB and the Spartanburg County Public Libraries and I feel as if I have hit the ground running!

HUB-BUB and SCPL and I have joined forces to build a more creatively engaged Spartanburg, starting with community access to arts programming with a focus on inclusivity and a gentle point of entry. So what does this mean?

When I arrived almost three months ago, I wrote a little statement which the following is excerpted from: 

"I believe that art and creative practice in any form should be inclusive and accessible to anyone. Teaching and exchanging dialog about art is an integral part of my practice, and spending time in the service of a community will expand my ability to learn about my own work while facilitating the aesthetic development of others. By using my studio practice and through designing a series of community-oriented programs, I hope to inspire and create connections within the community, and offer a gentle point of entry for those who might not ordinarily seek out art in their daily lives."

We've started this initiative to engage the community through accessible creative programming in a few ways: by creating a Studio in the HQ Library where I have begun teaching workshops and classes, as well as keeping regular studio hours, open to anyone who would like to stop by. We've also built a custom traveling loom (with the help of former AiR Eli Blasko) which has been out in Morgan Square for both of HUB-BUB's Hub Crawls this fall, and now lives in the Studio at the Library when not traveling. The influence of fibers and textiles on my practice has been immense, and after moving to Spartanburg and learning more about the rich textile history here (particularly thanks to reading the Hub City Writer's Project book Textile Town, which should be required reading for every resident!) I felt compelled to offer textile arts education to connect Spartanburg residents to their own heritage. 

learning to weave at Hub Crawl on the Community Loom

learning to weave at Hub Crawl on the Community Loom

Building community has always been important to me, and I've spent years working in community education, non-profits, and as a museum professional. I received my BFA at Massachusetts College of Art and Design with a focus in Photography, Fibers, and site-specific sculptural installation, and I have a deep commitment to public and community-engaged practice. Residencies often offer artists an opportunity to work unfettered by daily obligations, isolated in their studios with their residency culminating in an exhibition. I was so drawn to this partnership residency specifically because it offered a completely unique experience: to contribute to the creative health of a community while folding in my own studio practice, connecting everything by "the event of a thread" as Anni Albers states in On Weaving

Since my arrival I've also been working on some other public projects, including a forthcoming public work in partnership with Partners for Active Living, a collaboration with Northside Artlet Artist and former HUB-BUB AiR Eli Blasko, as well as consistently working on my personal projects. Pictured below is an image of nearly three months of my daily practice, imagine it as a warm-up sketch in a figure drawing class or a 10-minute run before lifting weights: I embroider an old family photograph, which didn't make it into the family album, every day, refining my embroidery skills, measuring time, warming up my fingers at the beginning of each day of work in my studio. By the time I leave the residency I will have accumulated 335 of these embroidered "other pictures" - process on this project and my studio practice can be followed by visiting the HQ Studio, on Instagram - @archetypographia and with the hashtag  #stitchingtheotherpictures


If you would like to HEAR me talk about some of this stuff, I was recently invited to be on the City Podcast, and had a fantastic time talking with Christopher George about moving to Spartanburg, my work, and how excited I am about this residency. CHECK IT OUT HERE 

I'm curating Andy Herod's new show – Sorry I Made it Weird: Portraits of People You May Know

What is the algorithm Facebook uses to assign the suggested connections for each user? Do they look familiar? Do we already know them? Should we? How and why do we have access to them? These are all questions Andy Herod will be undertaking in his new series Sorry I made it Weird: Portraits of People You May Know. Nationally known as a printmaker and multidisciplinary artist and musician, Herod is unpacking the cultural zeitgeist of social media with this work, attempting to tackle the unseen narratives which tether us through the internet, following a thread through social media, out of the computer screen, and in to our homes.

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Lost in Translation: Selecting a Translation of Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies

Rilke lived for the true understanding of of human nature. "I lived for others while life lasted; now, after death, / I have not perished, but in cold marble I live for myself / as if in death-spasms for the first time bitten into the fruit of life" (Mitchell 553) and seemed to revel in his place as a vehicle for this dialog. Unfortunately, as he died so young in life, his words were only translated in life by a Polish translator, who died before the common era of English translators. It is, then, the responsibility of each translator to represent Rilke to the best of their academic ability, while entertaining that Rilke was a lover of human nature, and possibly anticipated the ongoing dialog regarding the meaning of his work. As he was so preoccupied with the meaning of life, it would probably please him to know that translators have argued over his intent. In reading the Elegies, then, it is important to remember that each translation carries varying weight with regard to particular subject matter.

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It seems lately that I am finally able to catch up with myself in the strangest of ways. I am slowing down, thinking about and doing only what is most important to me, spending time with those I haven't crossed paths with in years or those who have just crossed my path and stayed firmly in it for whatever reason. 

And in this process I am examining vernacular artifacts, ephemera long-enough outdated to qualify as "old pictures." Some rolls just never got processed, some film never scanned, some simply forgotten in a box, only resurfacing because I am spending so much of my time in studio practice, allowing myself to be slow and thoughtful, remembering being given permission for my studio practice to be whatever I was doing in the studio at that time, in that moment, right then. Right now, my studio practice is in the taxonomy of memory with regard to human interaction and geography. 

  • Vernacular photography is the creation of photographs, usually by amateur or unknown photographers both professional and amateur, who take everyday life and common things as subjects.

.. here are some of my favorite, recent, old, pictures:

the Black & Whites: Ilford 100 Delta Pro damaged by salt water / the Color: CR100 (both rolls Summer 2012) / unedited


Farewell, Molina. Again and Again.

I am without armour at this juncture. And yet I feel protected, prepared, Jason's music so prevalent every step of my journey, his spirit an apotropaic force in my life.. Every corner I turn, there he is.

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Overcast Dusk on Route 1 // August 15, 2014

rt1-triptychI've been working on an ongoing series since my move back to MA in 2010 on the North Shore, and Route 1 specifically. In preparation for my trip up North for the next few weeks I've been sequencing some of my favorite pictures, and thinking about where I want to make photographs while I'm there. This triptych is from a section of Route 1 (Newbury St.) between Peabody and Lynnfield.  

My Full Heart on Blanahassett Island

This weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting Marshall High Studios on Blanahassett Island in Downtown Marshall, for the Marshall Handmade Market. I met some lovely artists, saw some familiar faces, and truly enjoyed every moment spent inside that completely captivating building. I was lucky enough to catch up with Beth of Quill and Arrow Press (7 Ton co.) at her booth, and also to meet Amber of Sketchbook Crafts who has the most darling, ochre-saturated studio. It was so nice to meet such creative, dynamic business-lady-artists, and I left with a heart full of inspiration.

Here are a few shots of Beth's booth and Amber's studio, toward the end of the day as the light fell and became buttery.

lydiasee__MG_3322-marshall-02 lydiasee__MG_3317-marshall-01

lydiasee__MG_3333-marshall-05 lydiasee__MG_3331-marshall-04 lydiasee__MG_3327-marshall-03

Fly Home, Everybody's Waiting :: Tyler Ramsey in Asheville

[this post originally appeared 9.27.2011] Tyler Ramsey has a formidable presence. Though outwardly regal and composed, when he sings, all the tiny and beautiful creatures come pouring out of him, amongst their stories, and wind their way out from behind the mane of chestnut curls which swing freely across his face while he plays. His arrangements are humbly alive, even the softest notes are electric, the absence of sound is heavy and substantial.

Ramsey has a singular sound, somewhere between Jason Molina and Mark Kozalek, and is able to hit notes on the higher end of the spectrum that could sound labored when sung by a less-resonant voice. Ramsey’s vocal mutability is characteristic of a seasoned musician who exercises his strengths while challenging his weaknesses. His Americana-infused finger-picking walks the line between delicate and complex, mathematical and fluid. The more complex his composition, the more effortless it seems, and yet, when playing the simplest of notes, there’s a strained beauty, a haunting quality to the sustained notes.


The Valley Wind proves Ramsey’s skill at arranging sparse yet effective compositions to accent his uncanny ability to tell stories through suggestion. The title track features a heart-beat courtesy of Seth Kauffman, and the cascade which mirrors this rhythm feeds the image of long road-trips and borders on anthemic, while “Nightbird,”** with it’s layered tracks of increasingly incandescent guitars is monumental in it’s subtlety: “is it the ocean, the ocean or the sky that you are seeing, I know sometimes our eyes can be deceiving. Is there a reason for these disconnected feelings you are feeling? Everybody knows you should be sleeping.. you should be sleeping.”

The Valley Wind is out today.

Buy at iTunes

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or at any stops on tour, info. can be found at or on facebook

11/21/14- The Grey Eagle: Asheville, NC 11/22/14- The Evening Muse: Charlotte, NC

Here are a few shots from the Tyler Ramsey show in Asheville on November 18th 2010.


**(“Nightbird,” is particularly resonant for me as I heard it the last time I visited Asheville, sitting in Tyler & Joti’s kitchen. The morning I left to drive back up North, we listened to the beginnings of this record, just after Tyler had shared a few of the newer songs at a show at the Grey Eagle a few nights prior, and for some reason this one stuck in so many ways. And now, eight months later, he is releasing the record as I am flying into Ashevile.. “fly home, everybody’s waiting.”)

edit: I've moved back to Asheville, and it's even more timely now, somehow.