Alumnus Tara Thacker


Welcoming and nourishing are two words that describe my Monte Azul experience.

I’m writing this blog entry to share a letter of gratitude that makes clear the magical residency experience I had at Monte Azul and the transformative impact Carlos Rojas’ and Randy Langendorfer´s vision had on my creativity. My time at MACA was extremely productive and will remain one of the most influential experiences of my lifetime. I feel deeply honored for this privilege and for MACA’s and Stewart Gallery’s generosity in co-sponsoring my residency fellowship.

The arrival to Monte Azul was glorious – such an incredible setting that I was torn between “taking flight” to explore the surrounding property or locking myself in the beautifully designed studios and working around the clock. I wanted both… This residency experience provided me with time and space to deepen my creative practice, learn about an entirely new ecosystem, and engage with a rich artistic community. The unique landscape of Monte Azul is truly inspirational. The journey down the path to the studio each morning gave me time to look closely at my new surroundings and to consider how I might borrow some of its beauty to add to my work. These walks around the property were perfect and kept my mind focused and excited about what might unfold in the studio each day.

Each artist comes to a residency with their vision, often defined and directed by their own experiences to date. Indeed, much of what I planned did manifest as I reworked a series of collagraph plates that were inspired by shadow imagery. I had some other ideas in my pocket of how I might fill the time but soon discovered that the beauty and newness of an unforeseen landscape took hold and welcomed new directions to form. This balance of having the studio, the landscape, and the community at my fingertips made the experience truly profound.

One of the many notable things about being a MACA resident was the utter absence of distraction. Full concentration —awakening each morning knowing that I had the opportunity to explore a beautiful setting, then retiring to sleep each night with dreams of what creative possibilities might reveal themselves the next morning.

But a few of my favorite parts of my residency were the things unforeseen:

  • Waking with the sun each day to start birdwatching
  • Finding beautiful, fresh juices and coffee waiting on the table each day
  • And the food… truly the most glorious and delicious meals were provided each day
  • Learning how to make corn tortillas Lala’s way
  • Listening to, and swimming in, the waters of the Chirripó River
  • Being eluded by the winding flight of the Blue Morpho
  • Waiting for the monkey family to appear outside the studio each morning
  • Converting the studio into a 1980’s discotheque for a night
  • And, saying goodnight to Rosita as she roosted on her tree perch each evening I left the studio

There are so many more details to share that were special. But among the most inspiring aspects of my experience at MACA were the people around me —the invitation to forge meaningful new relationships with Carlos and Randy. as well as to have the time to deepen the connections with my fellow residents.

Letting all else go, and focusing full-time on my work in a “creative paradise” amongst wonderful people, has been a tremendous gift. I’ve returned to my home and day-to-day life full of creative energy and new ideas. I want to express my deepest gratitude for allowing me to have this wonderful experience. It has been an absolute luxury and one I will always treasure.