After spending six weeks of his winter break at a renowned art residency program in Istanbul, Turkey, a stimulated and invigorated Samuel Binns couldn’t wait to get back on the University of the Ozarks campus to put his newfound inspiration to work.
Binns, a junior English major from Hot Springs, Ark., served as a writer-in-residence at the Maumau art residency from Dec. 12, 2015, to Jan. 22, 2016. According to its website, Maumau “is designed to accommodate and provide space for production for many artists from different artistic fields.”
“The residency stimulated new ideas about my work, professional career, and what I can bring back to the community of Ozarks and elsewhere,” Binns said. “One of the most important things I experienced was befriending passionate artists. My interactions with them not only informed my own work, but also enriched my life in ways I never could have imagined.”
Binns said the residency program allowed him to complete a collection of poems he had been working on as well as tap into unchartered depths of creativity.
“It was a huge step in my creative evolution to do work that I truly care about while receiving unique perspectives that I could build upon in my work and bring to the community,” Binns said. “Not only was I able to work on finishing a collection of poems for publication, but I also encountered a variety of professional experiences. My interests in forming a magazine and a creative art space was further explored as I was able to meet founders of organizations like Atolye Istanbul, a creative community space with educational facilities, and the central contemporary art magazine, Exhibist, which showcases a variety of local artists and galleries.”
One of the inspirations that Binns hopes to implement at Ozarks is a renewed sense of community among artists.
“During the last week of the residency, fellow residents and I were able to present a wrap-up discussion with the directors about what we worked on, our experience, and what we hope to do once we return to our usual environments and work space,” he said. “I think meeting like-minded, creative individuals can bring a sense of community that I found lacking in my daily life. Especially here in Clarksville, there are only a limited number of opportunities outside of the University for artists and writers, which is why I think students with similar interests should have gatherings to discuss various options and ideas of things we can do to change that.”
Those ideas include a new venue for creative minds on campus to share their works.
“It would be great if we could have an open-mic event once every two weeks,” Binns said. “We have Project Poet, but I think having a non-competitive platform of sharing other material such as songs, poetry, monologues, or announcements can prove beneficial to people of all disciplines.”
Binns said he had the opportunity to meet and visit with artists from throughout the world at Maumau.
“Connections between artists around the world proved to be a wonderful way for me to place myself in an ongoing international dialogue,” he said. “I have learned what goes on there creatively, professionally and politically, and now I hope to relay that back to my peers.”
Binns, who is also a photographer, said he’s been fascinated with writing since the second grade.
“There was just something neat about having something of your own, like a short story, and sharing it with someone else,” he said. “During my sophomore year of high school, we moved to North Carolina and being in a new place where I didn’t know anybody was when my poetry started to develop. I found myself really reflecting on who I was and what I wanted to do.”
Binns believes his experience in Istanbul was the next step in his evolution as a writer.
“I learned that being positive, open minded, and collaborative are invaluable attributes in life, and meeting a lot of new people and forming new relationships with artists from a variety of backgrounds helps provide a dialogue of how we can serve our communities in a fun and engaging way through different forms of art,” Binns said. “Although my time at the residency is over, it is just the beginning of a long-term relationship with artists and galleries to which I can acquire more source material. My writing and artistry certainly grew as a result of the supportive, nurturing, and active community of artists in the Istanbul community.”