In 2013 and again in 2014 Fels was brought, as artist in residence, to Paris by the Department of Seine Saint-Denis. Republished here are three articles written by Fels commissioned by the online journal crosscut.com. They chronicle his 2014 experience in Paris and Neuilly sur Marne, in the city’s banlieue (periphery). Also shown here is a selection from a series of collages he created while in Paris. Their content came from old books and atlases found for sale at Parisian outdoor markets.
In summer 2014, ARCADE, the NW Journal of Architecture and Design, published a piece Fels wrote for them in Paris about working abroad, with his photographs.
An American in Paris · May 18, 2014
A Seattle artist finds joy and inspiration amongst the books and brick-a-brac at le Marche d’Aligre.
“I tend to do several things at once, so my time in Paris involves overlapping tasks, including working with a group of 12-years-olds, just outside the city in the Banlieue, on pollution of the Marne River; continuing ongoing work on a large-scale installation; and producing small collages for an exhibition in New Orleans. I’ll write more about those projects later. But first, I wanted to share some ruminations that arrived as I traveled around the city today. Giving myself over to those thoughts is all part of the process. …” Continue reading
Seattle-area artist Donald Fels is helping French middle schoolers imagine a different future for their polluted local river – and maybe themselves.
“For the past two years, the Conseil General of Seine Saint Denis has brought me to Paris to work as an artist, with 12-year-old kids in Neuilly sur Marne, a suburb in the banlieue, the city’s poorer periphery. Neuilly, as the name implies, is a town along the Marne river, home to a vibrant mélange of families, most of whom migrated to Paris from former French colonies, others from places such as Sri Lanka, Poland, Portugal, Russia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Most of these immigrant families are people of color. Almost all their children were born in France. …” Continue reading
How Empress Josephine’s roses launched an artist’s journey · June 23, 2014
A footnote about her legendary garden at Malmaison opens a window into rose DNA, perfume, France’s middle school system and the famous Monge Array.
“For the 1990 In Public art installation, which celebrated the opening of the downtown Seattle Art Museum, I researched the history of the city’s waterfront. learned the obvious: that Seattle grew around its trade in lumber and fish. That discovery process sent me to Asia, to see first-hand how its local resources became the trade flowing into Seattle’s port. Since that time, following global trade has taken me around the world, and into and out of many historical epochs. The convergence of geography, economics, history, politics and industry (what used to be called economic geography), intertwined with science, culture and anthropology, still intrigues me, and I continue to make art about it. …” Continue reading
Home and Away: Travel, Art and Life as a Translator · July 21, 2014
“Newly arrived, still jet lagged, I’m not yet fully here nor am I obviously there. In such a place/non-place, I’ve found myself reflecting on my current state: No matter the obvious discomforts of traveling ‘economy’, and most often not speaking the language of those in the places I land, I’ve been quite content to spend increasing time living and working abroad. …” Continue reading