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On June 1, I began a 10-week artist residency at the Northampton Community College (NCC) East 40 Community Garden. I had every intention of blogging almost every day, but here I am. With so much going on, it was hard to figure out where to start. So, I’ll start with the East 40 itself. I’m not a selfie person, but the first day of the residency the weather was so glorious, and I wanted something to post about the residency so I broke down and did one. 

Cindy Vojnovic, Artist and Educator

The East 40 is literally 40 acres on the East end of the NCC Bethlehem campus. It’s still off the grid-solar panels and propane tanks for power, rain catchment for water and, um, a composting toilet. It’s part community garden, part nature preserve, part outdoor classroom, part pottery studio and part anything you can dream up, including an artist residency. Last year was the pilot year for the residency, thanks to NCC Fine Arts Professor Rachael Gorchov. I contacted her earlier in the year, and she put me in touch with Kelly Allen, English professor, who is in charge of the East 40, and he plugged me into many resources at the college. This residency is still in its infancy, but I’m honored to be one of the pioneers, so to speak. The “product” of this residency won’t just be my artwork, but instructional materials that can be used by any NCC faculty and a community education class in natural dye and art materials. 

On day one, Kelly Allen root-tilled a plot near the ceramics shed that is my home base for the residency so I could grow dye plants, woad in particular. I spent all day in the sun (with 100+ sun block on) pulling weeds out of the bed he just tilled. I only had time to plant half the bed with woad seeds. It’s been fun to watch the woad sprout and grow along with the residency. Yesterday I spent hours again pulling weeds, as I will seed most of the rest of the bed today.

“Why am I planting woad for an artist residency,” you may be wondering. Woad is one of the oldest and most color-fast blue dye. And it isn’t just a dye. It is also used as a pigment, and I intend to use it both to dye fiber and to attempt to make a pigment. Pigments are solid, inert, and color-fast material that give paint its color. So if I make a pigment, I can add oil for oil paint-or egg for egg tempera, gum arabic and other ingredients for pastel, gouache, watercolor, and more modes of creative artistry. Of course, I’m going to use the art supplies once I make enough of them. I look forward to more adventures in the garden! Follow along and check out her portfolio at


  1. So happy to see NCC invest in such a great artist! Can’t wait to see what work comes from this opportunity!

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