2017 August was a no ordinary summer to Isa Ho, a Taiwanese contemporary photographer, as her solo exhibition "Not the Chelsea Hotel" held in Taiwan has put a meaningful ending note to her past 4 years' photo shooting at the Westbeth Artists Housing, a historical landmark in New York housing around 400 artists.
With ACC grant support in 2013, Isa excitedly embarked her journey and began her 6-month fellowship program in New York where she was arranged to stay at ACC's apartment at Westbeth. "When I first moved into Westbeth, I thought I was in an elderly home as most of the residence there aged over 60.' This was her very first impression towards Westbeth.
But gradually she found out that Westbeth is more than just a place for elderly. Not only a historic landmark at New York Manhattan, it is also one of the largest artist communities in the world, a life-long home to about 400 artists from around the world, working in different disciplines with all forms of medium. They are painters, sculptors, dancers, musicians, poets, writers, photographers, etc. who collectively have made significant contributions to shaping the contemporary art scene of New York, and introducing diversity of arts and culture to this metropolitan city.
She started to have friendly interactions with the senior artists at Westbeth, helping them with trivial things. Day by day, trust and friendship among them gradually rooted and grew. By knowing them better as a person, Isa realized that each of them has a very unique story which is interesting but equally inspiring to be documented. There she began her first year of photo shooting at Westbeth and since then she went back every year to New York to visit Westbeth and continue her documentary shooting till she completed her work early this year.
By using digital technology, each photo in her Westbeth series is like a time capsule, intensively captures the essence of all life episodes of the senior artists in residence. Each and every photo also helps convey a very positive message - aging is nothing to be threatening as long as a creative mind prevails. Despite an aging body, the artists at Westbeth continue to have a creative and passionate soul for art creation.
Isa's work at Westbeth is so appealing that it has attracted Christopher Phillips, a former curator at ICP, and she has been engaging in talks for a possibility of exhibiting her work in New York. She has also been reached out by US publishers for turning the Westbeth series into a publication. Her dedicated effort to document this important historic site obviously resulted in positive feedback.
"Am so thankful to ACC which has provided me with the Westbeth residence opportunity. It is indeed a new milestone for me as this unique experience not only inspires me to create such a meaningful piece of work but also helps shape me into a better and matured person. "