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December 19, 2019

InLiquid Artist Advice: All about Artist Residencies

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Erika Shevchek

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Artist Residencies are prime opportunities for artists to explore, create, and dedicate themselves to their work in a unique place and time. Typically, during a residency, artists live in small communities where they are given individual studio space and undistracted time to work on their craft. By building creative projects and finding inspiration, artists can have impactful moments that help their future careers and creative processes during their residencies.
Are you considering applying to an artist residency? Are you looking to gain more information on the experience?  InLiquid artists Diane Pieri and Matthew Hall provide insight by sharing their artist residencies experiences.
In 1990, Painter Diane Pieri attended MacDowell Colony YADDO artist residency in New Hampshire. Printmaker and drawer Matthew Hall attended the Vermont Studio Center in 2013. Various factors influenced their decisions for attending their specific residencies.
For Pieri it was the prestige of the residency that influenced her decision, and therefore there “were far less residencies available.” Meanwhile, Hall explained that the “location was convenient enough to where [he] lived … a one-day drive. If it had been a multi-day drive, the commute likely would have been prohibitive.”
Although both artists experienced different working methods at their residencies, both highlighted that their ideal productive setting was independent work. Hall mentioned that individual practice was the “majority of the residency work,” and Pieri found that independent work allowed her to “find a new body of work guided by new experiences.”  
Artists during their residencies are given a great deal of individual work time and workspace. Nonetheless, they still live in a community (typically referred to as “colonies”) among other talented artists and have shared experiences with their cohort. Some residencies have open studio spaces, shared bedrooms, and combined artist professional development. This programming can include visiting artist/ writer series and studio development within the cohort. All in all, these opportunities serve as the convergence among artist, institution, and community.
“Colonies are guided by giving each artist, or artist team, the freedom, time and conditions to create and explore,” Pieri said.  “They are there to serve the artist’s creativity.”
Brought together to form eclectic groups of artists, each person attends the residency for their own reason. Residencies are based around a proposed project from each artist in their application, and while artists enter the residency with an idea in mind, it is possible those ideas can change course.
“My work at the residency was about processing the feedback from my MFA show, and beginning a post-academic practice,” Hall said. “I had some scattered work, and a lot of abandoned strings, and those [pieces] informed later work.”
On the other hand, Pieri was mainly focused on having the freedom and time to explore her artwork: “Unhampered time and no worries about money gives artists liberty to dream and invent.” Residencies allow artists to take a break from the pressures of their everyday obligations and jobs to just create.
When asked about advice given to other artists who are seeking a residency, Pieri and Hall both focused on ambitious projects and re-evaluating work. Hall learned that “not every project needs to succeed, but the works [he] put away came back later and were able to be re-worked for different ideas.” He also mentioned the logistical cost of residencies, and said to “not be afraid to take a work-exchange for funding” if artists are struggling to afford a residency.
Pieri advises artists to focus on the application and to be resilient with the process. She admits that she was rejected twice by YADDO before finally earning a residency.
“Have an open ended plan. Back it up with professional experience,” she says. “However in the end, it’s all about the judges and luck. There are so many more artists today. The competition is fierce.”
To find out more about the InLiquid artists and their residencies, visit their artist pages: Diane Pieri and Matthew Hall
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