On a snowy Saturday back in 2013, my partner Clara and I ran some errands. The usual holiday stuff: baking supplies, gift cards, groceries. It was the tail end of a volatile year. For six months I had been in an existential crisis of sorts and wanted nothing more than to move away from Minnesota. I was pretty miserable when we set out that day, consumed by uncertainty and all its anxieties. When Clara suggested we could hit up the southwest suburbs for our provisions, I lit up. Could we take Highway 5? And stop by Paisley Park?!
A few months earlier, we had visited the purple palace for the first time, as our Prince was beginning to re-engage with fans in the space. We waited for hours in the rain, making beautiful, new friends before finding ourselves 20 feet from our hero’s soundstage. In what was one of the most surreal nights of my life (certainly the funkiest), Prince made music that was bigger than any anguish or anxiety I’d been feeling; at Paisley Park, my preoccupations didn’t stand a chance. My heart grew purple with pride.
That’s what I was thinking about as we were running errands that day and pulled off in front of Paisley Park. “Just get a picture! It’ll make you feel better. Do it!” I climbed a small snowbank, creeping real close to the fence. What I saw took my breath away. I loved the gracefulness of the fence lines and the stillness of the fresh snow blanketing the ground. The view was restorative and reassuring, and far bigger than my despair. I snapped a photo and ran back to the car. I posted it to my Instagram, captioning it Purple Snow.
A year later and still learning how to live with my existential anguish, I returned to the image in the studio. I wanted to spend more time with it, so I settled in with a couple copper plates and began to work it into an intaglio print. As I etched, scraped and burnished, I sought refuge in the image, not as a place of escape as much as a source of pride. While Prince spent time away from Minnesota, he never really left. Paisley Park was a manifestation of Prince’s love for this state, and that touched me deeply.
April 21, 2016 was the heaviest of days. I left work early and walked home, weeping in the rain. The entire city was struck with grief. Over the next few days, weeks, and months the fence at Paisley Park grew thick with flowers, photos, balloons, and poetry. I hadn’t finished my print yet, but I knew its meaning had shifted in an instant, from presence to absence.
The title Grace is Close to Home is a lyric from a favorite song of mine by the electronic duo Mount Kimbie, whose album was the perfect accompaniment for a 3:00 am drive home from Paisley Park. It was also a concept Prince had embodied fully. Paisley Park had been a foothold for me during a dark time, and instilled in me a sense of pride that will never be displace – as it is for so many others in Minnesota.
Kaitlin Frick is an arts administrator and music writer, and moonlights as a printmaker. She is based in Minneapolis and Seattle, and would attend live music shows every night of the week in both cities if she could.