Q&A with Jay Handy, Artist in Residence for March at Studio 23

Artist Jay Handy who grew up in Bay City and lives in Wisconsin now, has shown his work in galleries around the world. Since July, he’s been gathering photos from all over Bay County to create a March 24-May 14 display at Studio 23/The Arts Center.

For the show, Handy took some of the submitted photos, combined them, added texture via an 1840s press, and created something new.

While here, Handy will offer a class as part of an Artist in Residence Program. The Bay Area Community Foundation funded the residency. (Read about the announcement of the project in Route Bay City.) After the show, Studio 23 plans to create a unique public art project to install on the West Side of Bay City.

The public reception for the show, called “The Artwork of Jay Handy: This Must Be The Place,” takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. March 24.

Route Bay City asked Handy to talk about some of the art that people submitted for the project.

QUESTION: Let’s start with the numbers. Do you know how many photos were submitted? Or how many different people submitted photos?

ANSWER: Thus far, we’ve had over 300 photos submitted by 60 people. With so many options to choose from, the selection process has been challenging. Bay City’s community provided enough material to easily hold a second exhibition of all original works!

QUESTION: Tell us about some of the photos you received and the stories behind them. 

ANSWER: I’ve created a work with one submission that was particularly moving and haunting. The photo features a young smiling couple posed in the State Park, taken during the early 40s. The daughter of the woman in the photo eventually learned that the man in this photo was her mother’s boyfriend at the time. The photo was taken shortly before he left for Europe to fight in the war; only two weeks later, the man was killed. The daughter of the woman in the photo passed away this summer. This photo has been one of the more emotional pieces to create. 

QUESTION: Were there any photos that surprised you? 

ANSWER: I was definitely surprised to encounter a photo from the ‘70s of a young man water-skiing with the Veterans Bridge in the background. While it may seem like a regular photo to most, anyone who remembers the river’s cleanliness at that time would think this man was either brave or not too wise!

QUESTION: The Handy name is important in Bay City's history. Did you receive any photos that touched on your family history? 

Photo courtesy of Studio 23ANSWER: The experience of working with community-sourced imagery to make art for this exhibition has been as surreal as it has been rewarding. I chose to work with the portrait of my great-grandfather that’s hung in the high school and now middle school, reinterpreting that photo into a new work. As I was working with his image, the magic of his great-grandson turning his image into a work of art for an exhibition meant to celebrate the city he loved touched home for me.

QUESTION: Did you learn anything new about your family? 

ANSWER: I haven’t learned anything new about my family specifically through preparing for this exhibition, though I have learned a significant amount in the last 10 years. That’s for another article or event, though.

QUESTION: Can you tell us anything about what we'll see at the exhibit in March? 

ANSWER: In the upcoming exhibition, you’ll see both iconic and intimate aspects of Bay City, from historic moments to personal moments. With artwork featuring photos submitted by Bay City residents, you’ll see sides of the city that you know well and other sides that might’ve been lost to time or unfamiliar. This exhibition provides everyone a chance to connect with what makes a community unique and important, especially if it’s your community.

QUESTION: Can you tell us anything about the workshops that you'll offer during your residency?

ANSWER: I’m excited to be hosting a printmaking workshop that features the style I specialize in: chine colle, that is, taking images and adhering them into a print. This workshop isn’t for professional artists only, but gives anyone who’s interested in turning images into new artwork a method for doing so. There’s been a lot of interest in the workshop thus far, so we’re already looking into possibly adding a second. (Click here for information about the Community Printmaking Workshop with Artist Jay Handy.)