A day in the life of Terry Boddie

Hey guys my name is Lucy and I am from Bucks County Pennsylvania and these past few weeks have been a life altering experience. Each day proceeds to get better and the more rapidly the final exhibition approaches, the more I don’t want this program to conclude. I have luckily crossed paths with some of the most amazing people I have ever met, and if it wasn’t for Tisch I could have never been blessed with their friendships. Now aside from the sappy hot mess…

© Lucy Van Ellis; Terry awaiting our arrival in New Jersey after a few short train rides

Today we got the opportunity to visit Terry’s studio located in New Jersey. After taking a short, familiar walk to Kimmel to pick up our boxed lunches we were on our way to the subway station to set out on our journey. We cleverly kept our group together and safely all got on our first train then transferred to a second. Wondering what was in store for us today was swirling around each of our heads ” are we going to meet terry’s family?” or “Does Terry have a dog that I can play with….”-Olivia.

As we approached the end of the line, we were greeted by Terry who was patiently waiting on our arrival. As we walked down the stairs from the loading platform a monstrous design was engraved into the street below us. Terry explained to us that this was called a ” road tattoo” and that a local embellishes the streets with them throughout their small growing art community. Once we got settled inside the studio and ate our lunch Terry began to give a little history on the location and community around his studio.

The area used to be a hat-making district but is now a flourishing art district striving to include all the locals in the arts. Terry’s workshop is studio space 90 percent of the time and 10 percent of the time used as a gallery for local artists. Every month a new exhibit is installed into the two small windows welcoming curious eyes into the compact gallery. Currently occupying the space in the window was an artists by the name Jerry Gant based in Newark where he is skilled in sculpture and painting. This Friday will be the opening to his small show where along with showing off his craft he will also present a 45 minute spoken theatrical performance by improvising and getting to the heart of very serious issues. He will touch on three subjects; blues music, hobo culture and graffiti culture which he will all connect to moving from one part of the county to the next. Terry clarified that hobos would use a form of communication through graffiti called tagging that intrigued. The art community as a whole tries everything in its power to reach out and connect to the local people and pulling them in off the street hoping that the locals will find a common thread between them and the art. The community is comprised of people from Columbia, Mexico, Haiti, the Caribbean and Italy. It is difficult to communicate with some of the locals due to the evident language barrier but the community puts of many events inviting the community to interact with each other. An example of an event is the yearly sculpture garden which Terry described as a ” seafood fest”. It is very fortunate that all these artists found each other and banned together; “organizing artists is like herding cats” but once you get a group together the real estate agents leave the community alone.

Terry had lived in New York for 15 years and was offered a teaching position at at William Paterson University and accepted the job. He did a lot of research on neighborhoods close to New York City and found this area. He admired the energy and how the area was very green yet with an industrial look that intertwined the appearance of New York.

He originally was in a more traditional dark room mindset with his personal work and he took black and white images but he felt that he could not convey what he wanted to say so he started to experiment, which resulted in him creating his own photo-sensitized surfaces. Terry realized that when returning back to his home island of Nevis he found that his memory banks were rearranged and that some things he had totally forgotten. He recalled one specific moment while walking across street in the capital, Charlestown when someone called his name and was clueless as to who the stranger was. Terry described this moment like an epiphany; he realized that since he was in a new culture and language he had almost given up his past. What he lost he tried to recover through creating his own photographic process. Terry showed us a few hair transparencies which were symbols; he said he hoped to create his own language system but as of right now there was no meaning.

Seeing where Terry worked and what beautiful, well thought out pieces that he had created was so inspiring. I am sure we were all blown away by Terry’s studio space and his amazing creative mind.

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