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Artist Fellowship

Meet an Artist Fellow: Photographer, Carla Peña

We hosted photographer, Carla Peña at Getaway Mount Adams last summer so she could spend some free time reconnecting to her love of her craft, and to enjoy some time in nature with her partner and their new puppy. Here’s what she had to say about her creative practice, her Getaway, and her connection to nature.

I was born in Havana, Cuba and migrated to the US at age two with my mom. After high school, still unsure of what to study, I attended FSU where I quickly picked up photography as a second major to Sociology. I loved the way my passion for people and thirst for a creative outlet merged into what I do now. I’m a lifestyle photographer and mostly work with brands in content creation. I am deeply inspired by beautiful everyday moments but especially those that include connecting with people and the outdoors.  

Growing up in Miami, my only real connection to nature was through the ocean, my mom would sometimes pick me up from school early just to escape to the beach which was never more than half an hour away. Even as a young girl, I loved the way being near the ocean made me feel, I felt I knew myself when I was in the water. My broader connection to nature as I know it now though, came after moving to Tallahassee for college. My boyfriend kind of introduced me to the idea of hiking and camping and we did our first ever camping trip for our 3 year anniversary. After that (honestly terrifying) first night, we began to do hikes more often and searching for trails near us quickly became a favorite past time. Two years after that we took our love for the outdoors to the next level and hit the road in our prius for a life changing two month road trip across the US where we camped nearly every night. I’d say nature has increasingly become a huge inspiration for me in my photography work. I am deeply grateful for the way it fuels ideas and an overall sense of peace. 

Our Getaway experience was really lovely! I had never experienced nature in quite this way where we had all the comforts of home and the vastness of the outdoors all at once, it further fueled our dreams of one day building a small home on lots of land. The practical yet intentional simplicity of the interiors really highlighted what matters most, which was that big window for me where I felt safe and open to seeing everything outside. 

You can keep up with her work on her Instagram and her website. 

In need of your own creative escape? Book your Getaway today.

Artist Fellowship

Meet an Artist Fellow: Designer, Nasozi Kakembo

Fill us in on your background—personally and in your creative practice. 

My personal interests and career have always been oriented toward design. I studied architecture in undergrad, and urban planning and design in graduate school. I didn’t go into either field immediately because I caught the international affairs bug during grad school, and spent the next four years working squarely in human rights philanthropy. Although I had traveled to Uganda and Morocco long before that, that career path allowed me to see even more parts of the world and of Africa. It was eventually on a work trip to Senegal that sparked my interest to launch xN Studio. I came back from that trip with tons of fabric from le marche (the market), sketched ideas on the plane back, and started xN Studio as a side hustle almost immediately after my return to Brooklyn. That was April 2011. 

From that day forward, my creative process has relied heavily on travel, whether locally through museums and galleries (more often the case these days), or through books and travel features online.

How does your connection to nature influence you personally, and how does it influence your art?

The colors and patterns found in nature are an endless source of inspiration. But if I’m moving too fast, or spending too much time away from nature, then I don’t benefit from its generosity. I split my time between Maryland, New York, and Kampala (less-so now because of the pandemic), and I make sure to spend time in nature in all of those places. Spring time in Maryland (a stone’s throw from Getaway’s DC Outpost where I spent my Fellowship)  is one of the most beautiful seasons because of the medley of budding flowers. 

My collections are also made mostly from sustainable and organic materials, so in a very direct way, they are because of nature. I think that is a huge part of why the work that I brought to photograph during the fellowship integrated so well into the cabin and grounds.

How does your identity influence your art, if at all?

I identify as many things–a woman, a mother, Ugandan, American, entrepreneur, a benevolent contrarian (to each, their own!), and more. All of these things influence my work. My mother worked in an African art gallery during my entire upbringing, so not only was our home infused with African art and objects, but I also spent a lot of time with her at the gallery in Georgetown, Washington, DC as well as African-based cultural events in and around town. My Ugandan heritage is also central to my artistic inspiration. The baskets and other customary objects that we had in our home tied me to my family members in Uganda, many of whom I was not able to meet until my teens, and some whom I never got the chance to meet. But being surrounded by beautiful objects from Uganda as a child made it feel less far away. It didn’t occur to me until much later when I started my home decor line that these objects would resonate with non-Ugandan people the way they do! So it has been an honor to integrate accents from there into my product offering, and to use those accents as a channel for sharing Ugandan culture and for working with expert artisans.

How was your Getaway? Did your time in your cabin influence your process or inspire any new ideas?

My Getaway was incredibly inspiring and refreshing. I was able to tune out entirely from the common mode of always being plugged in. I brought some key pieces from my newest collection, which launches in July, and took the opportunity to photograph some of the work in the cabin and on the grounds. My textiles and other accents popped against the clean and modern design of the cabin. 

I even got to set up and photograph a curated picnic tablescape for an al fresco meal. It was the perfect opportunity to test drive the Cowhorn Inlay Trivet I just developed with my team in Uganda which just launched in July, as well as the hand carved Helix Salad Servers, which are already customer favorites. 

The cabin’s smart design inspired new ideas as well. I pride my decor and design approach on functionality without sparing style. There were so many clever and seamless nooks in the cabin where you could tuck away your woods escape odds and ends without taking up space, like the cut-out underneath the bed. It was perfect for my shoes! There was another one below the step-up to the bathroom that was ingenious.

As I am also in the process of revamping my interior design services, I will definitely be applying some of these clever ideas into my own projects (and have already started to implement them on a Brooklyn apartment project!).

Anything else you’d like to share with us? We’d love to hear your feedback! 

It happened to be National Rosé Day during my weekend in the woods, and I dubbed one of my concoctions in honor of the occasion! Affectionately known as the Getaway Rosay, the Getaway metal cup and xN Fair Trade raffia coasters are a must 🙂

You can keep up with Nasozi on her Instagram and her website. Ready for your own creative escape? Book your Getaway today.

Artist Fellowship

Meet an Artist Fellow: Musician, Nakaya

Fill us in on your background—personally and in your creative practice.

I am originally from Los Angeles, but I’ve been New York based for nearly 8 years now. I come from a pretty unique background – my father was a hip-hop producer in the 90s and I attended a radically liberal (and what some might call “hippie”) school that focused deeply on thoughtful learning and I think those influences (as well as a multitude of others) have informed who I am as a person and as an artist. I want to bring different perspectives to indie music – time and time again we are presented with the same identity tropes in alternative spaces, and I want to be honest about my experiences to hopefully find connection with people who have felt different or *weird* like me. 

How does your connection to nature influence you personally, and how does it influence your art?

Nature is where I base all of my work. We are of the earth and it recharges and inspires me to bask in the joy that nature gives to us. It’s magical and I feel like there is no way to describe the feeling of forest bathing that does it justice, but I really believe it’s because we are innately connected to the universe. 

How was your Getaway? Did your time in your cabin influence your process or inspire any new ideas?

My getaway was amazing. I felt so safe and comforted by the space provided, I am mad at myself for not having booked this time sooner. I haven’t taken my acoustic guitar on a trip upstate in a very long time and as soon as I pulled it out of the case, it just felt like “I’m back.” Like it was home and it was natural. The quiet in comparison to the constant buzz of the city just gave me much-needed clarity to work through some new ideas. 

I had such an amazing time at Getaway, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is, particularly with the obstacles we’ve been facing recently, to take a break. Recharge and be gentle with yourself so later on, you have power and energy to show up for yourself and your loved ones when they most need you. <3 

You can find me on instagram HERE and on my website HERE. 🙂 

Need your own creative escape? Book your Getaway today.

Artist Fellowship

Meet an Artist Fellow: Illustrator, Courtney Ahn

Hi, I’m Courtney, but everybody calls me Courn! I’m a multidisciplinary designer, illustrator, and freelance creative based in Portland, Oregon. My direct experience as a Korean American has largely shaped my career philosophy, serving as inspiration for the social justice advocacy present in my creative work. Through my freelance studio, Courtney Ahn Design, I aim to provide accessible design services for small BIPOC business owners and partner with organizations working directly in the equity space as a force for good. In the past year, I’ve found purpose in using art as a tool for activism, sharing weekly posts navigating antiracism and oppressive systems through my Instagram account, @courtneyahndesign.

I’ve always felt an immense connection to nature growing up in the PNW; from as early as I can remember I’ve been surrounded by climbing forests of evergreens, winding hiking paths, and never more than a couple minutes away from the beach. Through the years, much of that connection was lost as I pursued a career in the design industry, switching to long work schedules, spending weekends managing my freelance business, and being too burnt out to do anything else in my free time. But it’s been such an empowering decision to make more time for myself the past year and reconnect in so many ways I was unable to before: actually having weekends off to enjoy the outdoors, making time in my day to walk my dog/actually work outside(weather permitting!), and being able to take more intentional trips to the outdoors. This reconnection has been incredibly impactful for me in sustaining my creative work and taking better care of myself.

I quite enjoyed it! I wish I could say I came up with this great big idea while I was away, but it was quite the opposite. I thought about nothing creative or work-related…and that was really empowering for me. As someone whose mind and body is always racing a million miles a minute for the next deadline, it’s incredibly challenging to turn it all off. I guess it took quite literally not being able to connect to it to remove myself from those worries. And while I can’t say that I’ve found a new lease on life after a couple days away, I will say that the intentional break in my schedule has really let me slow down and re-evaluate the pace at which I was working unsustainably.

You can keep up with Courtney’s work on her Instagram and her website.

Ready for your own creative escape? Book your Getaway today.

Artist Fellowship | Guest Stories

Meet an Artist Fellow: Illustrator, Ava Puckett

We created our Artist Fellowship Program to help creative people find the space and inspiration they need to bring their ideas to life. Earlier this year, we hosted illustrator, Ava Puckett, at Getaway Chattahoochee outside of Atlanta. Here’s what she had to say about her creative process, her relationship to nature, and her Getaway:

I am a freelance illustrator and online shop owner in Nashville, TN. I’m a lover of therapy, coffee, and soccer. I came to Nashville thinking I would work in the music industry, but after college I became friends with several illustrators who reignited my love for the visual arts. I make art that encourages self-care and reflection, often focusing on topics I’m working on in therapy or reminders that my current or past self needs in order to heal. 

I feel at peace when I’m in nature, away from online distractions. It reminds me that it’s okay to slow down and take time to reflect, which is the focus of a lot of my work. I often go on several walks throughout the day and love going on afternoon runs – it evokes a similar feeling to meditation. It’s almost like time stops when I’m in nature – I feel much more calm and in the moment.  It’s a reminder to stay present and practice gratitude.

My Getaway trip was amazing! It was the first solo trip I’ve ever taken and I enjoyed every moment. It felt like an opportunity to strengthen my connection with myself through listening to my body, getting lots of rest, and being away from social media. I did lots of journaling, reading, cooking, and was able to focus on a book I’m in the process of writing and illustrating. It made me want to take more regular Getaway trips to completely unplug, especially when I have a big illustration project I want to tackle. Not even having the option of logging into Instagram or my email allowed me to take a step back and think about my relationship with social media, questioning how much it actually serves me and if the balance is a bit off. 

You can keep up with Ava on her Instagram and her website.

In need of your own creative escape? Book your Getaway today.

Artist Fellowship

Meet an Artist Fellow: Illustrator, Hannah Gumbo

We created our Artist Fellowship Program to help creative people find the space and inspiration they need to bring their ideas to life. Earlier this year, we hosted illustrator, Hannah Gumbo, at Getaway Chattahoochee outside of Atlanta. Here’s what she had to say about her creative process, her relationship to nature, and her Getaway:

I grew up doodling all sorts of weird things like cats dressed as fashion models and bedazzling everything I owned to look “fancy” but it wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that I had my first official art class. Having access to new materials and learning to bring discipline into my art flow had an enormous impact on me. I’ve been HOOKED ON ART ever since, baby! Beyond it being fun, it also helped me communicate so much more than I was able to with words and connected me to a community of other quirky creatives.

These days I am a freelance illustrator/artist, working from my tiny home studio in the Cajun prairies of Louisiana. My work consists of drawing on my Wacom tablet (looks like a giant iPad with stylus pen), creating colorful murals (which allows me to paint much larger than my workspace), and a whole lot of playing around (I had the time of my life last year drawing iconic hairstyles for 100 days straight, lol). 

It is truly a dream to not only continue making artwork after all these years, but to make a living doing it. When I graduated from college, I was pretty certain I’d stop drawing forever (dramatic much?!?). I had just seen so many people before me get burnt out and let their practice fade away over time. I figured it could easily happen to me too, and so I began to guard my creativity like an over-protective mother. Even now, I try not to demand too much of it but at the same time, keep it in check, and make sure it doesn’t grow into a lazy brat. If one day, my creative work can’t pay the bills, I can handle that. But my biggest fear is that I would over-work myself to the point that I lose the love of what got me started in the first place.

I live out in the middle of nowhere. But this amazing little small town surrounded by farmland has given so much to me and my creativity. With less to do, distractions also decrease. Living in Eunice has produced a deeper focus in me and lit a fire in me to pursue all the crazy ideas that pop into my head. Plus, I’m surrounded by so much natural beauty including miles of crawfish ponds that attract amazing wildlife such as roseate spoonbills. If you aren’t familiar think: “flamingo, but in the sky”… and they have a curved beak like a spoon which is super cute.

I’ve been applying to artist fellowships for a while now, and Getaway was the first one to say YES! Not only was it a great experience to take my art for a road trip, but I felt so valued as an artist through the whole process. I love that Getaway encourages creativity alongside rest. My husband Jordan and I spent our first night just enjoying our spot, eating s’mores, and settling in by the campfire. It was a cloudy night but I woke up around two in the morning to an entire blanket of stars above our window. It was so magical I had to wake Jordan up too! The next morning we enjoyed listening to the radio over coffee and I explored some ideas in my sketchbook to pursue once I got home. 

Creating original ideas, keeping a freelance career going, and still finding time to seek out “inspiration” can really take its toll. I am so excited that places like Getaway exist to recharge our batteries and make space for resting in nature. After stepping away from my routine and carving out time for this Getaway, I was able to return to my work in a healthier and more intentional way. 

To learn more about Hannah, you can follow her work on her Instagram and check out her website. She also has a monthly email newsletter with studio updates, freebies, and colorful creativity to follow along, even if you’re off social media.

In need of your own creative escape? Book your Getaway today.

Artist Fellowship | Guest Stories

Meet an Artist Fellow: Photographer Wendy Song

We created our Artist Fellowship Program to help creative people find the space and inspiration they need to bring their ideas to life. We hosted photographer, Wendy Song, in November at Getaway Big Bear outside of LA. Here’s what she had to say about her creative process, her relationship to nature, and her Getaway:

On Creativity

Personally, I’ve worked in the Operations then Sales & Marketing roles in the Tourism/Hospitality Industry (in hotels and a local tourism board) for a total of over 8 years. Now I am the Co-Founder and CEO of Evolusen, a Creators Marketing Agency for the Tourism/Hospitality Industry. Creatively, I am a published freelance travel photographer. It’s both work and fun for me. I started my journey by taking photos of sunsets with my phone and applying Instagram filters before sharing them on social media. Now I am working with tourism boards and travel brands in the US photographing and promoting destinations.

On Nature

I love how calm nature makes me feel, no matter the weather we’ve encountered so far. We head out to shoot when the weather is calm and stay in and chill when it is not. I try my best to convey that calm feeling in my work and my daily life, since I may not be the calmest person you encounter.

On Escaping to Nature

I really loved the messages I got before my visit, especially with the fact that there is no need to plan and it included a list of things near the outpost, just in case. Planning sometimes is not the most fun activity. Especially when work is more consuming now with WFH, so not having to plan takes a load off my mental plate and I felt more chill for the whole trip and created more content than I normally would.

You can follow Wendy’s work on her Instagram and her personal website, and Evolusen’s website.

Ready to book your own creative escape? Book your Getaway today.

Artist Fellowship | Features

Meet an Artist Fellow, Illustrator, Liana Finck

We created our Artist Fellowship Program to help creative people find the space and inspiration they need to bring their ideas to life. Earlier this year, we hosted illustrator, Liana Finck, at Getaway Eastern Catskills outside of New York. Here’s what she had to say about her creative process, her relationship to nature, and her Getaway:

On Nature

I️ grew up kind of near Catskill, in Orange County, NY. We lived at the foot of a mountain far away from the closest neighbor, and I️ spent most of my free time outdoors looking at things and walking around with my dog. I️ still do, although it’s different in the city. 

Visiting Catskill brought back old memories. I️ remember going to a zoo called the Catskill Game Farm when I️ was a kid. And I️ feel so at home in the beautiful, soft, old mountains. I️ remember realizing when I️ was maybe eight, that the soft blue and purple zig-zags on the horizon weren’t just part of the sky. I️ hadn’t seen them since my family moved away when I️ was fourteen. 

On Creativity

I️’ve always drawn. My mom is an artist, and she encouraged me. I️ started liking New Yorker cartoons and graphic novels when I was in high school, and have wanted to make them since then, besides a painful detour in art college. I️ use a Muji .38 gel pen (the old kind they stopped making) on slightly higher-end printer paper. I️ trace a lot. It’s my way of editing, instead of using pencil and then inking later, which is what most comics artists do. The paper is slightly translucent, easy to trace. When I️ draw on thicker paper, I️ use an LED light box (cheap and portable). 

On Getting Away

I️ went there with my boyfriend on his first birthday while we were together. We didn’t have a car, so we just stayed close to the house and wandered around. We looked at horses, made s’mores, and drew. It was a great birthday. We went back a year later, this time in a car and with our new dog, Penny. She loved it – the first time we’d brought her to the woods. 

You can follow Liana’s work on her Instagram.

Ready for your own creative escape? Book your Getaway today.