Dun Dealgan, Ireland
The concept of Six Degrees of Separation posits that all people are connected through a maximum of six social connections. Consequently, it suggests that any two individuals can be linked through a chain of 'friend of a friend' statements in six steps or fewer. However, in Ireland, it seems that this concept is distilled down to just one degree of separation, meaning that you are only one person away from anyone you encounter.
As I embarked on my journey to the Creative Spark artist-in-residence program in Dun Daelgan, Ireland, I found myself navigating the streets of a quaint, non-touristy town, devoid of Wi-Fi access. This situation meant that I could only rely on the old-fashioned method of seeking directions: striking up conversations with locals on the streets. To my amazement, the one-degree-of-separation principle immediately kicked in, as one of the locals swiftly deduced my identity and my landlord's after a mere few questions, declaring, 'You are Yulia, I know who you are.'
This principle continued to astound me as one of my former classmates from Long Beach stumbled upon my artwork online, recognized his hometown, and, within a month, found himself participating in an artist-in-residency program in the same town. The thread of one degree of separation persisted as we unexpectedly encountered Sharon at the St Francis of Assisi exhibit in London, the sole person among the ten million residents of the city whom we physically bumped into.
The magic of one degree of separation continued to unfold upon my return from Chicago to Dun Daelgan. As I had just arrived from the airport and was making my way home from the Dublin-Dundalk bus stop, my artist-in-residence director, Sarah Daly, ran into me and kindly offered me a ride to Creative Spark within the hour.
These experiences introduced me to a new community outside of my existing networks in a serendipitous manner. I had never heard of Dundalk until I was accepted into this enticing but remote residency program in a foreign country I had never visited before. However, shortly after my acceptance, President Biden made a visit to Dundalk, asserting that his heritage was rooted in that part of the world. It was as though Dundalk suddenly became a household name, and I couldn't help but quip, 'Of course, Dundalk - who doesn't know it? American presidents hail from there.'
These experiences during my original trip to Ireland served as a vivid reminder that we are all just one step away from each other, and our connections in this world are intricately woven together.