on Manzanita Artist-in-Residency, Canada

The Manzanita artist-in-residency on Cortes Island (manzanitafoundation.org), British Columbia, Canada, is a program privately run by Sadashi Inuzuka, a retired Japanese professor from the University of Michigan, U.S.A. with good intentions and high ideals. The objectives of the program are to provide free accommodation and studio space plus three prepared meals daily, therefore giving artists of all practices a chance and space to contemplate; to refocus and concentrate on their work; even to an extent of an option of “doing nothing” as a way of getting away from the dreary of daily chores to find inner peace, as well as to connect with the unique community on the island with most residents subscribing to a similar Loving-Gaia philosophy and leading a natural lifestyle.

The well intentioned objectives of the residency are his way of giving back for all the numerous unconditional help and support from benefactors in his journey as both a person and an artist in addition to undoing many wrong doings he confessed to that had deeply hurt many people. Almost to remind himself of this resolution, he would reiterate daily, “I want to be a better person.” Unfortunately, intervened by his bi-polar personality he did not honor the objectives. Over the duration of my residency there, I witnessed and experienced time and time again manifestation of a mean, unkind and disrespectful demeanor whenever his inner demons took the better of him. Gradually, I was outsed from the studio space and with no means of transportation I have to find my way to get food from grocery stores which are located 7-10km away and fixed my own meals. Towards the end of the program it has become so unpleasant that I have to cut short my residency and took refuge with some residents on the island.

Being a Christian, over the course of the program in May and June, I put faith in God to deliver me from the unpleasant and unjust situation and by His grace I actually achieved the objectives of the artist-in-residency program set down by Sadashi yet without his help - I managed to make the best of the circumstance to come out with a small body of works which still continues to inspire me. Sadashi who himself preferred to be left alone and expressed verbally his reluctance to establish contact with residents on the island and I without knowing how to connect with the community, my venture out of the property one day looking for a church led me to connect with Lore and Derek Mack-Mumford, as well as Barbara Buffington, all of whom have lived on the island for more than a decade, who would later host me at their place when I terminated early my residency at Manzanita. Through them, I was also introduced to many other residents and invited to participate in many events and activities on the island. As inappropriate as the residency program has unfolded, it has led to a very deep, beautiful and special relationship between me and Barbara, Lore and Derek, all in His glory and mercy.

Perhaps a certain darkness is needed in order for us to see the shining stars?

Mei Ling, July 2015

Responses and Contributions from Barbara Buffington, Lore and Derek Mack-Mumford towards my experience:

From: Barbara Buffington
To: Mei Ling Lee, artist
Cc: Lore and Derek
Sent: Sunday, July 12, 2015 6:08 AM
Subject: Re: My artist-in-residency

While I find it extremely unfortunate that Meiling had to experience much unpleasantness and stress during her time with Sadashi, having her literally walk into our lives has been the most magnificent blessing. Her art work is incredibly beautiful, a direct reflection of the shining soul within. I know that I have a life-long friend, a very loving one, in Meiling. She is a joy to be with and I look forward to any contact or time I am privileged to spend with her.

To: Mei Ling Lee, artist
Cc: Barbara Buffington
Sent: Monday, July 13, 2015 11:08 PM
Subject: Re: My artist-in-residency - our response

Dear Meiling,

sometimes we have to turn LEFT, rather then right as advised by Sadashi.

We gave this “almost lost” young lady a ride - 100 meters or so - and invited her to see us at Barbara’s home after visiting the tiny church. What a blessing for us to get in touch with you and thank you for joining our life’s journey on Cortes for a few weeks. How much we enjoyed to learn about you, your personal outlook on life, and we fell in love with your art work. We visited you in the studio Sadashi (not finished yet) offered you for your residency. This beautiful place has its own vibrations, which we enjoyed many times before Sadashi purchased the property. The previous owners opened the beautiful studio as show case for local artists and the community and their visitors loved to be with Anna and Alois, the previous owners. The community was quite excited that the new owner was an artist as well and offering residency. But the doors were never open!

Meiling, you describe your experience in gentle and fine words, transforming your disappointment and insulting experience into new learning and expanding.

We enjoy deeply your continued closeness, your intellect and love of life.

Lore with Derek

To: “MeiLing 李美琳”
Cc: “Barbara Buffington”
Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 12:08 AM
Subject: I owe you a word…

Dear Meiling,

after some contemplation I realized that I owed you a word or two, so this is my contribution:

Our initial meeting with Mei Ling Lee was a most auspicious event, and that rather mystical atmosphere remained throughout the time she remained on Cortes Island in our presence. However, it took us quite a while to realize the predicament Meiling was subjected to by her host, and only then did we, Barbara Buffington and ourselves, took action by asking Meiling to immediately leave the Residency and stay with us until she would return to Taiwan. This all happened after several emails flew back and forth and in a few hours we transported her to our home at ten o’clock at night. Meiling was somewhat aghast at the swift action and shaking at the same time.

But then everything calmed down into a peaceful, yet active time filled with adventure, that provided a renewed outlook on her creative life.

Lore, Barbara and myself have been totally blessed by having Meiling stay with us and thus sharing “who she really is”, expressed through her exquisite and poetic power of the English language, her artist and creative skills (which include financial management), her mystic experiences, and most of all her totally balanced outlook on relationships and life in general (may be partial owing to Dr. Buckminster Fuller’s teachings, but also her own mature spiritual understanding of life and death).

Thank you for come so gently into our lives dear Meiling.
With Love and Blessings,
Derek with Lore, and Barbara

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