Making Art in a Different Place; What is an Artist Residency?
An artist residency is a unique program or opportunity that grants artists dedicated time and space to immerse themselves in their creative work. Often set in an environment distinct from their usual surroundings, these programs come in various shapes and sizes, differing in terms of duration, location, and the level of support provided. However, they all share a common objective: to foster artistic growth, stimulate experimentation, and offer artists a supportive community of kindred spirits.
Artist residencies prove to be invaluable experiences for artists at different stages of their careers, affording them the time and resources essential for exploring their creativity, embarking on new projects, and connecting with like-minded individuals within the art world. The specific benefits and experiences encountered during an artist residency can vary considerably, contingent on the program’s structure and the artist’s individual goals.
For me, an artist residency is an invitation to engage in experimentation, exploration, and a deeper dive into my creative realm. The ideal residency provides me with a space where my art is my constant companion, 24/7, making it impossible to escape its allure except by venturing out to explore. Regardless of the residency’s level of structure, I arrive with ambitious objectives, intensifying my focus. I don’t predetermine what I’ll create upon my arrival, but I do set goals, which include acquainting myself with the city and the local community, grasping the culture, customs, and history of my temporary home for a month. I make it a point to visit all the galleries and museums in the area and endeavor to establish connections with art collectors. Having nurtured a pan-Canadian identity through collaborations with the people, brands, and artists I’ve encountered in my Canadian travels, I’m always accompanied by invitations to connect, and it feels crucial to honor these relationships.
I also come well-prepared. There’s a saying that luck favors the prepared, and I adhere to it. I ensure I have all the necessary supplies, book transportation in advance, and stock up on healthy food to sustain me throughout my residency. Over nearly two decades in the art world, I’ve learned the value of preparedness. I relish the process of making my own discoveries, forging my own connections, and expanding my network organically. Moreover, I revel in the challenge of troubleshooting on my own when faced with issues or the need for specific equipment or supplies. I thrive on solving problems independently.
When it comes to collaborations, I prefer for them to arise organically. My work, patrons, fans, and collectors demand a significant portion of my attention and energy, so a residency is a time dedicated to me and my art. It’s an opportunity for tranquil reflection, writing, exploration, hiking, and simply breathing. I delight in leaving my formal wear behind and embracing a month of living in my jeans, hiking gear, and painting shoes.
Interestingly, every time I leave my hometown, art sales seem to flourish. While the reasons remain somewhat mysterious to me, it’s undoubtedly a boost to the interest in my work, and my creations tend to fly off the shelves more swiftly when I’m on the road. Although the structure and requirements of residencies may differ, each one is a chance to rejuvenate the artist’s perspective, heart, and soul.
Artist residencies offer a unique and transformative experience for artists like me, fostering growth and pushing creative boundaries. They provide a haven where artists can delve into their work, discover new horizons, and forge connections that enrich their artistic journey. Whether it’s the serene solitude or the organic collaborations that thrive in these settings, residencies breathe new life into our creative spirits. So, every time I embark on one of these journeys, I come back to my hometown with not just art but a reinvigorated passion for the art of creation.