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  • Writer's picturePamela Lawton

Soaring Gardens Artist Retreat

This summer (June 23 - July 5th) I had the opportunity to work on 3 portrait woodcuts of DC-based artist-educators for an upcoming solo exhibition at the Soaring Gardens Artist Retreat near Laceyville, PA located in the Appalachian Mountains not far from Scranton, PA. The 5 bedroom farmhouse built in 1850, was purchased by NY-based artist Ora Lerman in 1973. The 24 acre property includes a two story artist studio with enough space for 5 artists and a writing studio in the farmhouse. There's no cost and no creative stipulations. I spent the first week carving 2 of 3 woodcuts and exploring Tunkhannock--the small town not far from the retreat. The grounds boast beautiful floral, herbal, and vegetable gardens and trees of many varieties. Foraging is encouraged and the residency manager, Jordan Oakley and gardener Joanne Smith, took us on a flora tour of the property pointing out edible and medicinal plants. Artists are encouraged to apply with friends as they share the living space and prepare their own meals. Fellow Dandelion Black Women Artists Aziza Gibson-Hunter, Kamala Subramanian and I attended. Adjoa Burrowes was also accepted, but a medical situation prohibited her from coming with us. We hope to come to this amazing retreat again with Adjoa. Composer Lisa DeSpain and visual artist Tom Manto were also in residence and we enjoyed fruitful conversations with them.

In the studio

Foraging on the property

We found Staghorn Sumac--whose red sword-like berry clusters (orange is poisonous!) have a citrusy taste and make an excellent pink lemonade. We also found Queen Anne's Lace--a member of the carrot family--the roots are tubers; St. John's Wort with small yellow flowers that treat anxiety; a birch bark tree--with root beer bark; stinging nettle, lemon balm and catmint--all make excellent teas and so much more. Additionally the cultivated herb/vegetable garden and fruit trees (apple and pear) became part of our daily meals.

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