August 21, 2019 — Virtual reality, poetry, nature and wildfire were all part of a showcase at the end of an artists’ residency at the North Street Collective in Willits this weekend. Three artists spent eight weeks at the house with wooden floors and walls of windows, gathering plants, bugs, and ideas. Jessica Mehta was in the front room, next to a poem that was taller than she is. A pair of virtual reality goggles was on a table next to a display of a few of her books, which are written in the familiar dimension. But Mehta’s exploring literature in more than just one dimension.
In the next room, printmaker Kathryn Kain’s press stood beneath a collection of long scroll prints on Japanese paper, with leaves, flowers, thistles and berries pressed into the weave, creating a colorful three dimensional illusion. A handmade accordion book with Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s poem “Remember” pressed onto the pages among the flowers and leaves was open to the line about how the wind remembers the origin of the universe.
On the other end of the room, and spilling into a foyer just off the garden, Christine Carr, who came to Willits from Iowa by way of Virginia, explained her work. She places photoshopped images of burned landscapes into the outlines of maps of California’s largest fires, based on CalFire information dating back to 1932.
North Street Collective program director Noel Woodhouse says the next round of artists will be coming to Willits from Germany, Oregon, and the Bay Area. He hopes to incorporate a hands-on workshop for the community into the middle of their eight-week stay.