A Guide to 20 Adventurous, Offbeat, Or Otherwise Outrageous Artist Residencies
A Guide to 20 Adventurous, Offbeat, Or Otherwise Outrageous Artist Residencies
In our last feature, we compiled a list of 20 notable and prestigious artist residencies. Yet while researching that piece we found so many others worth noting for their sheer strageness that we put together another list, this one to capture what we call the "alternative" category of artist residency. From an expedition to the North Pole to a residency in a local Laundromat, these weird and wonderful residency programs offer experiences you just can’t get anywhere else. Seriously.
In addition to the unorthodox and specialized programs on this list, we'd also like to give a shout out to a few programs that, while undoubtedly bizarre, are not currently accepting applications, including residencies at the Facebook headquarters, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), New York City’s Department of Sanitation, and the now-defunct NASA AIR artist program. All of these would have made our list of noteworthy "alternative" residencies — and perhaps in the future they will again if they return. In the meantime, enjoy the fruits of our research.
Who: Those who love decorating cozy spaces
When: Six weeks between May and September
Where: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park, Indianapolis, Indiana
Open to graduates, undergraduates, and emerging art professionals, the Indianapolis Museum invites one to two artists aboard celebrated artist Andrea Zittel’s 20-foot-wide fiberglass floating structure for a six-week exercise in experimental living. Selected artists must adapt the interior of the modular floating igloo according to their projected needs and interests. “Island” residents are given a budget of $3,000 to purchase materials for fabrication, a personal stipend of $1,500, and round-trip travel to Indianapolis. An iPad will be provided for blogging during the residency.
[Fine Print]: Artists are required to blog and use social media throughout the duration of their residency, so they can't really get away from it all, even though they are on a glorified houseboat. Also, they are expected to engage with visitors to the park.
Who: Emerging to established ceramic artists
When: Full-time residency 1-2 years; short-term summer residency between June and October, 2-4 months; short-term residency between October and June, 1-3 months
Where: Helena, Montana
The ceramic arts are still very much alive and the Archie Bray Foundation is dedicated to fostering community among ceramic artists. The foundation offers several self-motivated and minimally structured residencies for artists requiring often massive and complex facilities for their craft, and looking to further engage with their fellow ceramicists. Artists are given 24-hour access to firing facilities, equipment, and a free studio space. Worth it if you’ve been saving up!
[Fine Print]: Ceramics can be a costly venture, and if you decide to take up residency at the Bray you’ll be responsible for buying materials, funding your own housing (most liking in nearby Helena), and paying for living expenses. The Web site does mention that there is affordable housing in the area, but warns that some residents sell their work in the galleries, take up a part-time job, or teach community classes to supplement income.
Who: International working contemporary artists of all disciplines (i.e. architects, scientists, educators)
Where: International Territory of Svalbard
Cruise the iceberg-laden seas of the Arctic, just 10 degrees from the North Pole on an ice-class expedition sailing vessel in this one of a kind, month-long adventure residency. Participants span all disciplines from architecture to visual art, and from science to education. So the conversation is going to be great. The boat is equipped with common areas, private rooms, and work space. The program also works with curators, gallerists, and institutions to present findings and projects to the public.
[Fine Print]: Better make sure you have your sea legs because you’ll be spending most of your time on the open water.
Who: Artists willing to get their hands dirty
When: June-November, from two weeks to five months
Where: 140 miles west of Omaha, Nebraska.
“A new residency season is taking form; another unmapped aesthetical pilgrimage of wobbly evolution towards an obscure conclusion, but remaining alert to the ruts beyond the epic route from improved chimpanzee to fallen capitalist and for the chasm of commodity that art seems to have plunged into...” So begins the (unintentionally?) absurdist introduction to Art Farm’s residency, a communal, parity-based program in rural Nebraska that offers artists accommodation and studio space in exchange for 12 hours of their time per week to help maintain the farm’s buildings and grounds.
[Fine Print]: Stipends are not currently available. Art Farm suggests visitors take out a personal accident insurance policy during the residency. Additionally, artists are asked to donate a piece of artwork to Art Farm’s permanent collection.
Who: Single parents who are unable to afford studio space for their practice
When: six months beginning June 1
Where: Brookyln, New York
While it can be hard enough to afford studio space as an independent artist, for those who are looking for affordable options while juggling the duties of parenthood on their own, the Brooklyn Artists Gym has a special residency for you. BAG provides unlimited access to their open studio space, salon exhibition opportunities, open critiques, and figure drawing instruction for single parents currently without studio space or having financial difficulty obtaining one.
[Fine Print]: To make the cut here you have to provide a reference who can vouch for your situation. Also, being a single parent is hard enough.
Who: Outdoorsy types
When: Three weeks in the summer
Where: Provincetown, Massachusetts
Since the mid-1990s, the National Park Service and the Provicetown Community Compact have offered an artist-in-residence program to visual artists in one of the historic dune shacks dotting the Provincetown coastline. “Shack” is the operative word. The three-room wooden structure comes sans electricity, running water, and telephone. It’s as close to the Atlantic Ocean as you can get on dry land. Three three-week residencies are offered in the summer — one of which includes a $500 fellowship.
[Fine Print]: Be prepared to welcome visitors. Residents are required participate in something called the National Seashore's Interpretive Program, where a group of up to 10 people can take a tour of your humble abode once a week.
Who: Artists deserving of the royal treatment
When: varies, spring and summer
Where: Warsaw, Poland
Sanford Biggers is an alum of this plush residency. Housed in a 17th century Polish castle, the Centre for Contemporary Art offers residencies to artist working in visual art, sound, performance, design, and architecture. The summer residency offers a live/work space, a grant of 6,000 zloty, a travel reimbursement of up to 1,600 zloty, and a project budget of 3,000 zloty. You’ll be living in a palace and rolling in zloty!
[Fine Print]: Given the exchange rate, the stipend is more modest than it sounds. Be advised that one Polish zloty is equal to 32 US cents. Also, only two studios are actually located in the castle. The other five are in the nearby Laboratorium building.
Who: The technologically (and cosmologically) inclined
When: Three month residencies, until 2013
Where: The Large Hadron Collider, Geneva
Everyone’s favorite 17-mile particle accelerator is open to artists! Underwritten by international art celebrities including Jacques Herzog, Mariko Mori, Andreas Gursky, and Pipilotti Rist, the Collide@CERN AIR is open to digital artists who are interested in the theories and technologies of particle physics. This award includes a cash prize of €10,000, a production grant, and a funded residency in two parts. After two months working at CERN with their new scientist buddies or “inspiration partners,” residents go to Ars Electronica Linz to make new CERN-inspired work.
[Fine Print]: The Large Hadron Collider works by colliding two proton beams at extremely high energy in order to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang. CNN reported that "some have expressed fears that the project could lead to the Earth's demise," but also quoted scientists like John Huth, who said the doomsday scenario was "baloney."
Who: International and U.S. emerging and established artists and writers
When: One month
Where: Various Colorado towns throughout the state
For those with both artistic tendencies as well as a sense of adventure, the surprise factor built into this residency may be just what you’re looking for. The program migrates to facilities in different Colorado towns each session, from locations in grassy valleys to those nestled in the Rockies. Residencies typically last for one month and include free living and studio space.
[Fine Print]: Artists are responsible for covering their own travel, food, application fee, shipping, and are responsible for removing work at the end of residency. Shared bath and cooking facilities.
Who: Emerging to established artists working in any discipline
When: 2-6 months
Where: John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Kohler, Wisconsin
This is one of the coolest residencies around — for those who make work dependent on some heavy-duty equipment, that is. Each year, Kohler Co. opens the doors to its pottery, iron, and brass foundries (as well as enamel shop) to artists for its “Arts/Industry” residency. With exposure to technical construction knowledge and access to industrial materials and equipment, the year-round residency is an invaluable opportunity for a lucky 16 artists (four in residence at a time) to make pretty much whatever they can imagine. Amenities include studio space in the factory, 24-hour access, free materials, technical assistance, photographic services, housing, and round-trip transportation. If this sounds seductive, also check out the “Corning/Kohler” joint artist in residence program with the Corning Museum Studio, which allows artists to split time between both facilities.
[Fine Print]: The nearest city is Sheboygan (the home of the Arts Center) so prepare for the cold, and some isolation, amongst the plethora of live industry.
Who: Someone who loves “Spiral Jetty” as much as they love yak milk
When: Biannually in August
Where: Ulaanbaatar and the Gobi desert, Mongolia
Land Art Mongolia offers a biannual residency to artists who want to create politically engaged, site-specific land art that reflects the biodiversity of the Gobi Desert. Chosen artists will be hosted during their stay and be supported with transportation within Mongolia and full accommodation during the stay in the cosmopolitan hub of Ulaanbaatar.
[Fine Print]: If you missed this year’s deadline, you won’t get to reapply until 2014. Also, their curator’s statement is almost unreadable. See, for example, “New physical vistas unique to the region challenge participants with the adaptation necessary in an intrinsic embrace with the distinct natural climate and selection intending to partially demarcate an equivalent diversity of cultural origins within the international body of guests. This hypothetical stance coupled with the actual aesthetic analysis of the proposals which include virtual reproduction, found organic materials, electrostatic experiments and the transformation of natural hubris...”
Who: Artists of color living in the New York metropolitan area, New Jersey, or Philadelphia
Where: A laundromat near you
Each year, the Laundromat Project, a community-based non-profit, gives two to three artists the opportunity and means to create socially-engaged site-specific artworks in their local laundromat. This residency provides professional development, an honorarium of $3,000, and a $1,000 production budget.
[Fine Print]: Artists are responsible for convincing the laundromat owners to use their space.
Who: Emerging and established pirates
When: Annually, April through May
Where: Far Rockaway, Queens, New York
Marina 59 is recruiting artists to live and work on abandoned vessels in the Far Rockaway boatyard. Each spring, artists, volunteers, and construction workers band together to build the Boatel — a fleet of artsy repurposed boats that act as accessible and affordable New York vacation spots in the summer. Artists selected for the residency will be provided a modest budget for materials, the option to sleep on the boat, and access to the Marina’s junkyard.
[Fine Print]: Artists’ proposals must seriously consider functionality and safety. The structural integrity of the boats can’t be compromised.
Who: Four International emerging to established artists who work with/appreciate paper
Where: Mino, Japan
Fun with Paper! The Mino Paper Art Village Project is both an artist residency and community project. Conditions for artists immersed in the rigorous program are no more than a willingness to learn the craft and to make artwork with paper as a motif. Located in a historic area, the studio is a formerly vacant but very old house in traditional local style.
[Fine Print]: From what we have been able to gather from former participants' blogs, the program is pretty strict and regimented as it is a fully immersive cultural experience with a home stay.
Who: San Franciscans/recycling enthusiasts
Where: San Francisco, California
As the old saying goes, one man’s trash is another multimedia artist’s treasure. Located at the San Francisco Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Center — a 47-acre facility that includes a garbage transfer station, Household Hazardous Waste Facility, Organics Annex, and Public Disposal and Recycling Area (commonly known as "The Dump") — the Recology Artist in Residence Program invites resourceful artists to create artwork out of materials otherwise destined for the landfill. Artists receive a monthly stipend, free studio space, and presentation of their work in the nearby three-acre sculpture park.
[Fine Print]: Only San Francisco-based, professional artists may apply. Also, see everything else about the residency.
Who: Practicing artists in need of both dedicated time and studio space to make work
When: One year (applications may be for a residencies four to twelve months after the deadline)
Where: Rosewell, New Mexico
Alien enthusiasts beware, this residency is not for those looking for shapes in the sky — unless those shapes are for artistic inspiration. It’s not for the weak-willed either: the RAIR is one of the lengthiest time commitments of any residency we've looked at, at one year, and for artists willing to participate it can be a large commitment. However, RAIR makes that time both worthwhile and comfy; artists are housed in fully-furnished accommodations fit for whole families, if need be, and are given a monthly stipend of $800.
[Fine Print]: Besides the lengthy time commitment, and a necessary willingness to be in a fairly remote area of New Mexico for at least 12 months, all artist materials must be covered by the participant.
Who: Visual artists sensitive to the needs of seniors
Where: Senior Centers in all the boroughs of New York City
New York is a notoriously difficult city for two demographics: emerging artists and elderly people. Developed as a part of Age Friendly NYC, SPARC attempts to ameliorate the plight of both these groups by placing 50 artists in residencies at retirement homes across the five boroughs. In exchange for developing arts programming for New York’s senior citizens, artists receive a $1,500 stipend, free workspace, and access to materials stored at New York's "Materials for the Arts" warehouse.
[Fine Print]: Funding is dependant on availability.
Who: Practicing and exhibiting artists
Where: Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, Sydney, Australia
Spend your afternoons painting water lilies, and don’t forget to stop and smell the roses while you’re “brushing up” on your plants and herbs. The chosen artist is given supervised access to the Trust’s living and preserved collections, full insurance coverage for both the artist and art works, and a solo exhibition at the Red Box Gallery (or another venue connected to the gardens).
[Fine Print]: There is no stipend, accommodation, or assistance for visas and travel, so the program is not ideal for international or interstate artists. Residency must also contribute to the Trust’s programs.
When: Year-round. Apply at least four to six months before you intend to go.
Where: Murano, Italy
Who knew that the perennially sinking city of Venice — renowned for its beautiful Gothic architecture and touristy gondola rides — is also a haven for contemporary printmaking? The Venice Printmaking Studio, located on the tiny island of Murano, offers two four-week residency programs in large-format printmaking and bookmaking, respectively. The studio organizes a biennial exhibition of large format prints created by resident artists. The bookmaking program compels artists to envision alternatives to the “overabundance of commercial imagery” that has become emblematic of modern-day Venice.
[Fine Print]: The studio asks that each artist donate one book produced during their stay to the Venice Printmaking Collection.
Who: Artists working professionally in their respective field
When: Five weeks on average
Where: Saratoga Springs, New York
The Yaddo residence is the Downton Abbey of AIR programs, with a little bit of Gatsby's mansion thrown in. The program has a history of American aristocracy, Victorian philanthropy, and bragging rights to 66 Pulitzer prize winners, 108 Rome prizes, 27 MacArthur Fellowships, and former residents like John Cheever, Jacob Lawrence, Truman Capote, Langston Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and Clyfford Still, among others. Artists from all disciplines are welcome to apply and there are no fees beyond a minimal one for the application itself. The estate boasts several buildings where artists can lodge, and private studios varying by artistic medium. Meals, linens, and some supplies are provided and residents abide by “quiet hour” rules between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and again after 10 p.m. to work without interruption. The estate is not only rich (literally) in history, but in addition to the scenic Trask mansion, there are also some handsome gardens which residents can take advantage of during their stay.
[Fine Print]: Besides the application fee of $30 and additional fee for media uploads of between $5-$10, artists may have to observe an unofficial dress code of polos and pearls while painting en plein air besides the bubbling fountain.