It’s nearly residency season, so today we’re sharing this helpful gem from our archives. Help Desk is an arts-advice column that demystifies practices for artists, writers, curators, collectors, patrons, and the general public. Submit your questions anonymously here. All submissions become the property of Daily Serving.
I spent last year applying to residency programs in the U.S. and finally got one. How do I maximize my time there? Obviously I’ll be working hard, but is there anything else I should know or do before I go?
Anne Neukamp. Curl, 2013; oil, tempera, and acrylic on canvas; 240 x 190 cm.
Congratulations! A residency can be a great place to get a lot of work done, experiment in a new setting, meet like-minded people, or even have a creative breakthrough. However, it’s not easy to take time off work and travel to a place where everything is new (and sometimes overwhelming) and still get a lot of artwork made. To answer your question, I turned to artist Christine Wong Yap, who has worked in residence at Montalvo Arts Center and the Tides Institute and Museum of Art, among others. Here’s what she had to say:
“Be prepared. I’m a planner. I like to find out as much as I can in advance about the residency before I go. I like to know what kinds of tools and equipment they have, and what I’ll need to ship. If the residency is in a remote area, or your residency is only a short duration, ship your tools and materials in advance (if the staff don’t mind receiving your packages for you). This can be expensive and stressful, so having particular projects in mind before arriving helps. Remember, the more remote the residency, the longer it’ll take to receive your packages. You might also consider non-art creature comforts. For example, for me, physical activity makes me less grouchy and more energetic, so a yoga mat and sneakers are must-haves.”
“Be flexible. Residencies are great for experimentation. Explore. Recharge. Be open. Anticipate that other residents may have different agendas, working hours, habits, etc. You will probably be pushed out of your comfort zone, for better and for worse. Contribute positively to the residency community with a good attitude, gratitude, and forbearance. Remember that lots of other applicants wish they had the opportunity you do.”
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