OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Florine Demosthene

Releasing the Truth, 2018. Mix media on canvas. 32 x 48 inches.

The female figure in FLORINE DEMOSTHENE's mixed media work hovers in a gauzy, blue and gray haze. In some works, she sprouts whole other versions of herself from her back. In others, she lovingly carries herself in her arms or on her shoulders, as a parent carries a child. This figure represents our relationship with ourselves. She is both a physical body and a symbol of the spirit. Florine earned her BFA at Parsons the New School for Design and her MFA at Hunter College. She had had solo exhibitions at Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts (St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands), Gallery MOMO (Capetown and Johannesburg, South Africa), Semaphore Gallery (Neuchâtel, Switzerland) and Gallery 1957 (Accra, Ghana). She has received grants from Arts Moves Africa and Joan Mitchell Foundation. Florine resides between New York, Accra and Johannesburg, although she's spending 2018 in Tulsa, Oklahoma as a 2018 Tulsa Art Fellow.

OtherPeoplesPixels: How do you see the relationship between the mind and the body, the internal and the external?

Florine Demosthene: The works are about the relationship we have with ourselves. . . the different parts of ourselves and how we are engaged in this continual battle. I have been investigating the duality between mind, body, emotion, spirit and essence through this series of works. I have not quite formulated a solid understanding of these components and how they interconnect. It's like I have gone down this rabbit hole that keeps getting deeper and more nebulous. 

Disappear Into Myself 3, 2013. Ink, charcoal, graphite and oil bar on polypropylene. 9 x 12 inches.

OPP: It seems like you are really talking about a spiritual path of inquiry. How does art-making aid in that path? Can you share any insights or observations you have?

FD: Making art in integral to my path of self-awareness and discovery. It allows me to create a cocoon around myself where I can delve deeper into my psyche. It has been an intriguing journey. I find when I allow my anger to rise to the surface, I make leap and bounds in my art work. I don't want to be in a perpetual state of rage, but it does serve as a catalyst for me to push past my boundaries.

Illumination #11, 2018. Collage on paper. 11 x 14 inches.

OPP: Are these works self-portraits?

FD: I don't necessarily see the works as self-portraits but rather an exploration of ideas. I reference myself, particularly my body, because it is readily available and I can easily manipulate it in the way that I want. 

OPP: Can you talk about Mind Chatter and The Story I Tell Myself? Is the secondary figure a burden to the first? Or simply an integral part that the main figure must nurture and carry through life?

FD: Those two works are addressing the shadow aspects of who we are and what exactly constitutes our personal narratives. I find that we fear the darkness within ourselves and shy away from addressing that truth within us. With those two works, I was searching for how to unburden this aspect within us.

Meta, 2018. Mix media on wood panel. 40 x 52 inches.

OPP: Blue lines seem to operate differently in different works. In Meta, they grow from the fingertips and remind me of Freddy Krueger’s knife glove. In Wounds #2, they seem more like blood dripping and in Wounds #7, they shackle the feet. How do you think about the blue in these works?

FD: Firstly the large areas of blues and black are glitter. The blue glitter lines are a continuation of the yellow beams that I was using in a previous series. These lines represent energetic communication or a sort of higher consciousness.

There has been this question that has been gnawing at me for quite some time: If we are only using like 10% of our brain capacity, then what would it look like if we say use 55%-100% of our minds? 

In the quest to find answers to this question, I have come to the understanding that it is not about our brains, but rather our connection to our soul/essence/spirit...that spark that ignites the life within us. If we could gain full access to this spark, then we can propel the brain (and how it functions) to level unimaginable. The thing is, we are so disconnected from this aspect of ourselves. In these works (the ones with the radiating lines) I'm attempting to bridge that gap between mind and spirit. . . to somehow build a connection to allow for direct communication.

To Come Undone, 2018. Mix media on wood panel. 52 x 120 inches.

OPP: In earlier works, the figure feels trapped in the backgrounds because there is more visual noise and, in some cases, actual locations with buildings and furniture. But in more recent works, the figure seems to be floating in an empty, abstract space. Can you talk about this change?

FD: The simplified background was just a natural progression of the work. In earlier works, I was concerned quite a bit with the figure/ground relationship. As the series developed, it became more and more about the body—and what's within the body—and less about the space in which the figure resides. This gradual shift helped me to hone in a bit more on what I wanted to convey with these drawings and paintings.

Meta-Two, 2018.  Collage on canvas. 36i x 48 inches.

OPP: In 2018, you won the Tulsa Fellowship, which offers an unrestricted award and brings artists from elsewhere to Tulsa for a year. Tell us about the experience. What has it been like to relocate? And what are you working on?

FD: I have been out of the USA for four years, so I had to mentally adjust for this fellowship. Thus far, the fellowship program has been surprising (in a good way) and it is allowing me to have some much needed time to regroup. I plan on continuing this series as well as possibly incorporation 3D and digital works. . . but we shall see how that goes. 

To see more of Florine's work, please visit florinedemosthene.com.

Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in cross-stitch embroideries, remix video, collage and impermanent installations. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006 Stacia was a 2011-2012 Artist-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibitions include shows at Siena Heights University (Michigan 2013), Heaven Gallery (Chicago 2014), the Annex Gallery at Lillstreet Art Center (Chicago 2014), The Stolbun Collection (Chicago 2017) and Indianapolis Art Center (Indianapolis 2017) and Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery (Palos Hills, Illinois 2018). Most recently, Stacia created Renunciation Reliquary as a one-night installation for Chicago Artist Coalition's annual benefit Work in Progress.

OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Susan Klein

Small Sculptures, 2017. Oil on ceramic and epoxy clay.

SUSAN KLEIN's work weaves in and out of an irreverence for the sacred and a reverence for the banal. Her sculptures and drawings are playful, colorful and humorous. . . and they take themselves seriously. They are complex explorations of ambiguous forms—urns, gravestones, altars, severed fingers—that evoke the human devotional impulse. Susan earned her BFA in Studio Art at University of New Hampshire, followed by her MFA in Painting at University of Oregon. In June 2018, she was an artist-in-residence at the Wassaic Project in Wassaic, New York, and she will be spending July at theInternational Studio and Curatorial Program in Brooklyn. She is the curator of Nighttime For Strangers, which features the work of Skye GilkersonHeather Merckle, and Holly Veselka, at the NARS Foundation in Brooklyn. The show opens this Friday on July 6 and runs through July 27. Her upcoming solo show Susan Klein: New Work opens on September 6, 2018 at the Sumter County Gallery of Art in South Carolina. Susan's work in represented by The Southern. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

OtherPeoplesPixels: How do you define the Sacred?

Susan Klein: I think of the sacred as that which is imbued with a specific religious or spiritual significance. This can be an object or living being that is revered and often held as directly connected to a god or gods. I am interested in the arbitrary manner that objects can be consecrated and made sacred. An ordinary object can be transformed into a thing that carries power, weight and spirituality. It can act as the connection between this world and another.  

Offering, 2017. Oil and acrylic on ceramic stoneware. 84 x 84 x 6 inches.

OPP: Can you talk about that recurring form which is sometimes a severed finger, sometimes a gravestone, sometimes a monument?

SK: This form references a pattern on an Etruscan artifact. I have played with it many times in painting, drawing and sculpture. I like how it can shift between a finger, figure, phallus and monument. It is a form that symbolizes creation, touch and commemoration. 

It is interesting that you mention it as a severed finger! The violence associated with that connects the form to Shadow Things (2014-2015), a body of work that directly relates to cemeteries, urns, grave markers and funerary ornament. I was thinking about how these markers or holders of the dead are used to commemorate and bridge the living and the dead. Mausoleum and the related works grew out of visits to museums to see artifacts (Roman and Egyptian funerary artifacts to name a few) and out of my experience in Berlin’s Weissensee Cemetery, the second largest Jewish cemetery in Europe that miraculously survived WWII. Many Jews hid in the mausoleums there, but I think most were found and killed. Despite this history—or maybe because of it—it is an amazingly beautiful place. Humans have a way of turning death into something beautiful. Through religion, commemoration, decoration and the use of the sacred object or altars we find ways to grapple with that which we do not understand. 

Three Rainbows, 2017. Oil on canvas and wood. 60 x 48 inches.

OPP: What role does humor play in your work?

SK: Humor is a counter to the heaviness in life. It is a way we can process and manage emotions, trauma and current events. For me, it is also a way to prevent work from becoming literal, heavy-handed, overly simplified and a one-liner. It keeps complexity in the work, and that mirrors the human psyche.  

The finger form is as funny as it is serious. I often use shapes or imagery that shift from serious to playful, venerated to irreverent. This slippage is important to me, and one of the main reasons I am currently working with the ubiquitous symbol of the rainbow. It is used in religion, new age spirituality, emojis, stickers, etc. I think it is funny to use a cliched image in "serious," formal work. There are so many associations we have with the rainbow as a symbol. Rainbows are very seductive and silly in reproduction (but a real rainbow is always beautiful). It is fun to play with those associations, to personify and glorify this image. Plus, how can I resist a good color gradient? 

Landed, 2018. Oil on ceramic stoneware. 18 x 14 x 7 inches.

OPP: It seems like you began in drawing and painting and moved into sculpture. Is that the case? What led you toward sculpture?

SK: In graduate school, I cut up drawings and made three-dimensional structures out of them. I would use these structures as stand-alone sculptures and as still life subjects for paintings. I also began using small foam and spilled paint sculptures as subjects. This process continued after school for many years. Later, I pulled forms from paintings and made them into sculpture. There has been a continuous back and forth, although I had about three years or so where I focused entirely on painting. A collaborative exhibition in Berlin in 2015 brought sculpture back into my practice. I incorporated the furniture in the exhibition space into my work. That certainly changed things! In some ways, straight painting and image making never satisfied me. I continuously was thinking of the painting as object, so moving into sculpture made perfect sense. Strangely, much of the art I admire most are very quiet paintings, like Giorgio Morandiand Édouard Vuillard. Although Betty Woodman and Jessica Stockholder rock my world. 

Looped, 2018. Oil on ceramic stoneware. 15 x 9 x 9.75 inches.

OPP: When did ceramics first enter your tool kit?

SK: In 2016 I began making forms out of Sculpey, epoxy resin and air dry clay as a way to solve an architectural issue with a cement piece. These forms and materials clicked, so I made more and more. A year ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the artist in residence program at Otis College of Art and Design. They have a ceramics studio and an amazing ceramics tech there, so it was the perfect time to experiment with clay. I loved it immediately! Instead of glazing, I fire the clay and oil paint it.  This keeps the work firmly connected to painting and allows me to work with a process that more spontaneous than glazing. I also love how the oil paint takes to the fired surface. It is very buttery and satisfying!

OPP: Talk about your choice to present artist statements in the form of audio and video that doesn’t tell us much at all. You could have no statement at all, as many artists do. Are you a contrarian? Or genuinely mystified by writing an artist statement?

SK: Ha! I have "proper" artist statements that I use for applications, exhibitions, and whatnot, but I like resisting language on the website. I think the work creates its own language and presents that to the viewer. I am not so interested in layering verbal/written language on top of that. Although I am an academic, I have a small problem with the academicizing of visual art.  Artist statements are a direct result of the proliferation of the MFA and the professionalization of the field. . . so yes, maybe I am a bit contrarian! But I also like that image and sound can exist as a statement or descriptor of the work. There is something pre-lingual in my work and in my experience words can obfuscate, confuse and miscommunicate as often as not. One must be a very good writer to illuminate the world.

Peach Diamond Reverence, 2016. Foam, paint, glitter, resin, clay. 12.5 x 11 x 9 Inches.

OPP: What’s frustrating about how viewers respond to your work?

SK: For some reason, I dislike the word whimsical being applied to my work. I don't know why! Maybe because it makes me think of cuteness. My work incorporates play, humor and improvisation, but it is also rigorous. Whimsy feels a bit fluffy. 

OPP: What’s satisfying? 

SK: It is satisfying when viewers really engage with the work. When they spend the time to get lost in it a little, when they start to react the dark side as well as the light. I do like to see people having fun with my work as well! My art idol is Elizabeth Murray, who created work that embodies many things at once. It is playful, humorous, rigorous, serious. 

To see more of Susan's work, please visit susankleinart.com.

Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in cross-stitch embroideries, remix video, collage and impermanent installations. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006 Stacia was a 2011-2012 Artist-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibitions include shows at Siena Heights University (Michigan 2013), Heaven Gallery (Chicago 2014), the Annex Gallery at Lillstreet Art Center (Chicago 2014), The Stolbun Collection (Chicago 2017) and Indianapolis Art Center (Indianapolis 2017) and Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery (Palos Hills, Illinois 2018). Most recently, Stacia created Renunciation Reliquary as a one-night installation for Chicago Artist Coalition's annual benefit Work in Progress.

What exactly is a Fellowship?

Fellowships, unlike residencies, do not usually provide space—although there are some exceptions. Fellowships are unrestricted, larger chunks of money awarded based on merit. Fellowships usually have some kind of limitation in regards to subject matter, geography, medium or identity. This follows along with the idea that a fellowship is in pursuit of some joint goal. 

Please note, some of the fellowships below DO NOT have current open calls. Funding for fellowships may change from year to year. But it is a good idea to get on the mailing lists for any fellowship that you are eligible for.

KRESGE ARTIST FELLOWSHIPS for emerging and established metro Detroit artists

Deadline: January each year

Artists receive $25,000 awards and professional practice opportunities. 

Fellowships recognize creative vision and commitment to excellence within a wide range of artistic disciplines, including artists who have been academically trained, self-taught artists, and artists whose art forms have been passed down through cultural heritage.

GILDA AWARDS are $5,000 prizes for emerging artists, named in honor of artist, CCS professor, and 2009 Kresge Artist Fellow Gilda Snowden (1954–2014).

Fellowships and Gilda Awards are no-strings-attached awards, meaning artists may spend the money on any aspect of their creative practice or life (i.e. making new work, renting or purchasing studio space, travel, general living expenses, etc.).

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JEROME FOUNDATION FELLOWSHIP for residents of Minnesota or one of the five boroughs of New York City

Deadline: Applications for the 2019-2020 program are closed. The next application cycle opens in 2020.

Artists receive $20,000 per year for two consecutive years, making the total cash award $40,000 over the two-year period. In addition to the cash award, each Fellow will receive $10,000 of production funds to award to a nonprofit(s) that contracts (or is already contracted) with the Fellow during the two-year period.

The new Artist Fellowship program that offers flexible, two-year grants to support the creative development of early-career generative artists in the state of Minnesota and the five boroughs of New York City. Artists may apply individually or together with other members of ongoing collectives or ensembles.

The Foundation recognizes that the term “emerging” means different things to different people. In preparation for this program, we received over 1400 artist surveys with wildly different definitions of “emerging.” Some people said that, in this country, all artists are always emerging, and some people gave specific criteria for identifying the markers between emerging artists versus mid-career or established artists.

The Foundation’s goal is to serve a spectrum of artists typically in their 3rd to 15th year of creative practice, post-student status (if applicable). This spectrum is framed by artists with some track record of creating and presenting full work (not beginning artists), and artists who are NOT at a point in their careers where they receive consistent development and production opportunities and significant recognition, awards, and acclaim (not mid-career or established artists).

The Jerome Foundation makes a distinction between generative artists (those artists responsible for artistic control in generating entirely new work, including writers, choreographers, film directors, visual artists, composers, playwrights, etc.) and interpretive artists (those who interpret or execute the work created by others, including actors, editors, dramaturgs, singers, dancers, musicians, designers, etc.). The Foundation recognizes that some artists do both generative and interpretive work. Nevertheless, the Fellowship program supports only those artists with a significant history of generative work.

The Foundation will make 10 grants in each of six categories:

  • Dance
  • Literature (fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry)
  • Media—including Film, Video and Digital Production (documentary, narrative, animation, or experimental) and New Media (artistic work that is computational and distributed digitally, in the form of websites, mobile apps, virtual worlds, computer games, human-computer interface or interactive computer installations)
  • Music
  • Theater, Performance and Spoken Word
  • Visual arts

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A BLADE OF GRASS FELLOWSHIP for socially-engaged art

Deadline: September

Artists receive $20,000 in minimally restricted support.

We look at the process and relationships of socially engaged art projects. We see the aesthetic qualities of socially engaged art in how alliances are formed and maintained, the way disparate stakeholder groups are coordinated, how power dynamics are navigated, and how bridges are built between many different types of people within a socially engaged art project.

We create content that illuminates and deepens understanding of these relationships. A primary goal of ABOG is to make the “invisible” parts of socially engaged art visible. We do this through documentary films and field research that are artist-led, and are grounded in the perspective of project participants, as well as publications, web content, and public programming.

We also use this focus on process and relationships to advocate for a more expanded sense of what art is, how artists can work in communities, and how art might be integrated into everyday life. Our field research, documentary films, and other content serve as the basis for curriculum, toolkits, and consulting that enable more artists to work in partnership with non-artist stakeholders.

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NATIVE ARTS AND CULTURE FOUNDATION REGIONAL ARTIST FELLOWSHIP

Deadline: deadlines change as money becomes available; sign up for the mailing list to be alerted when there is an open call.

At its heart, the Artist Fellowship initiative is built around the fact that in order for any artist to succeed creatively, they need time, space, and financial support to cultivate their creative process, improve their craft, explore new concepts and, for some, take risks that they might not have had the capacity to take otherwise. Native artists in particular struggle with a lack of equal opportunity in the arts and culture sector, reflected in the mere 0.2% of all national arts funding which reaches them each year. By offering Fellowships, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation proactively strengthens the ecosystem of support for Native artists, enabling them to generate more artistic work, live sustainable lives, and contribute to their communities.

Goals of the Artist Fellowship Initiative:

~Power the artistic growth and magnify the voices of Native artists through the development of new works or completing projects in motion

~Increase recognition and visibility for Native artists in national and international arenas

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TULSA ARTIST FELLOWSHIP

Deadline: March 1, 2019.

Artists receive an unrestricted award of $20,000 for visual and literary artists for one year. In addition to the unrestricted award, TAF provides free housing, studio space to visual artists and co-working space to literary artists in the heart of Tulsa’s vibrant arts and entertainment district.

Given the unique cultural and historical landscape of Tulsa, designated fellowship spots will be reserved for Alaska Native, Native American and Native Hawaiian artists.

Fellowships are merit-based, not project grants, with a one-year term. Artists at any stage of their careers are encouraged to apply.

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ARTIST FELLOWSHIP AT MUSEUM OF ARTS AND DESIGN

Deadline: Applications for the February—July 2019 session will become available in August 2018

Artists receive a stipend of $15,000 and work 40 hours per week in their studios.

Fellowship selection follows the selection process outlined in The Artist Studios overview, but instead of artists being assigned one day each week to work, fellows work forty hours per week and receive a stipend of $15,000. A total of fifteen of the forty hours the Fellow is at work in the Museum must be open hours, during which the public has access to the Fellow’s studio. Additionally, fellows are given extra professional development opportunities including regular meetings with museum staff and outside professionals in addition to being able to participate in workshops and meet regularly with a mentor in their creative field.

Applicants must be thirty years or younger at the start of their fellowship, no exceptions (artists will be asked to submit paperwork to prove their legal age). Fellows must also identify racially and/or culturally with a historically underrepresented community, demonstrate the need for financial assistance to advance their artistic careers, and be residents of New York City.

Successful applicants have a mature body of work that reveals a mastery of techniques, methods, processes and/or materials, as well as demonstrates developed concepts, ideas, and/or themes. Proposals need to address a clear direction or question for pursuit in applicant’s work and take into account the public-facing nature of the program (we highly recommend applicants visit the museum and talk to current residents). Successful applicants also have an artistic practice that aligns with the mission of the museum to celebrate creative processes through which materials are crafted into works that enhance contemporary life. Key attributes for practices that align with the museum’s mission are: Innovation that drives 21st century creative production, the highest level of skill and workmanship, and an emphasis on cross-disciplinary approaches to production.

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MCKNIGHT FELLOWSHIP for ceramic artists living in Minnesota

Deadline: May 25

Artists receive $25,000.

In its 21st year of programming, the McKnight Artist Fellowship for Ceramic Artists will support outstanding Minnesota ceramic artists who have already proven their abilities and are at a career stage that is beyond emerging. Fellowship support may be pursued for, but is not limited to: experimenting with new techniques and materials, purchasing materials and equipment, collaborating with other artists, and pursuing education, exhibition, or travel opportunities. The McKnight Fellowship recipients will be featured in a workshop and an exhibition with a corresponding catalogue at the end of their grant year. 

This program is made possible by the generous support of The McKnight Foundation, Minneapolis, MN. It is administered by the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis.

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THE EFROYMSON CONTEMPORARY ARTS FELLOWSHIP for Midwestern installation, sculpture and new media artists

Deadline: Applications are not currently being accepted. If you would like to have your name added to our distribution list to be notified about any future Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship opportunities, please send an email to Mary Johnson at maryj@cicf.org.

Artists receive $25,000. It has distributed $1,000,000 to 50 contemporary Midwestern visual artists since its inception.

The Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship program was established in 2004 to reward creativity and to encourage emerging and established individual artists by supporting their artistic development while increasing awareness of contemporary art in the Midwest.

Fellowship categories are restricted to Installation, Sculpture, and New Media. Selection criteria includes the following:

  • Quality and skill
  • Creativity and uniqueness
  • Commitment to developing the work
  • Impact the award will have on the artist’s career

To be eligible, artists must:

  • Be age 25 or older
  • Be a resident of either Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, or Wisconsin
  • Commit to residing in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, or Wisconsin for the duration of the fellowship

Fellows are chosen by a five-member selection committee through a blind selection process.

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RAUSCHENBERG FOUNDATION ARTIST AS ACTIVIST FELLOWSHIPS

Deadline: No current open call; sign up for mailing list

Artists receive up to $100,000 over two years, along with access to opportunities for professional advancement.

In 2015 we received more than 600 applications from 42 states, spanning a range of artistic genres and areas of thematic focus. The pool of applicants were narrowed to six fellows with the help of 30 field experts from across the U.S. This inaugural cohort tackled a range of timely issues—from climate change to caste-based sexual violence.

After the inaugural round of fellowship applications, the foundation decided to narrow the focus of future open calls by inviting projects addressing a specific issue or theme. The issue area is subject to change. The 2016 and 2017 cohorts of Artist as Activist Fellows are addressing racial justice through the lens of mass incarceration.

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HEMERA FOUNDATION TENDING SPACE FELLOWSHIP for artists with a contemplative practice

Deadline: rolling; apply here 

Artists receive financial support to attend one meditation retreat per year at one of our partner retreat centers (see below for a list of our partner centers)

The Tending Space Fellowship (TSF) program for Artists was developed with the view that art has the capacity to infuse the experience of everyday life with awareness. The aim of the program is to nurture the creative practice of seeing things as they are, to cultivate that awareness, and to live and create from this insight. To accomplish this, we provide financial support for artists to experience the immersive, contemplative environment of a meditation retreat. Qualified applicants will be full-time artists—visual, performing artists, writers, and multi-disciplinary artists—whose professions directly relate to their artmaking practice. This can include those who teach their artistic discipline, whether privately or with an organization, or in any type of school, as well as many others.

TSF are available for full-time artists with a sincere desire for the experiences of extended meditation practice to inform and influence their creative expression in the world.

Applicants will apply directly to the center holding the retreat they would like to attend. Artists who have never attended a residential meditation retreat longer than two nights will be provided with 100% funding for the retreat of their choice. Artists who have attended at least one meditation retreat longer than two nights will be offered 50% funding, with need-based support available beyond that. The program is open to domestic and international applicants, as well as groups of artists.

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OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Toni Gentilli

9" x 12." Copper liquor, iron liquor, oak gall ink, India ink, ash, charcoal, and graphite on paper. 2016.

TONI GENTILLI combines "anachronistic materials, techniques, and philosophies" in her work that includes a range of photographic processes, drawing and painting. In photography that highlights the mediating lens through which humans view nature and drawings made with wildcrafted pigments, her work investigates the relationship between nature, emerging technologies and human awareness. After 15 years as an anthropologist, Toni went on to earn her MFA in Photography at San Francisco Art Institute in 2013. In 2015, she was an Artist-in-Residence at Chalk Hill Artist Residency and the Lucid Art Foundation. Her work has been shown at Berkeley Art CenterThe Compound Gallery (Oakland, CA), The Lodge (Phoenix, AZ), and the Center for Fine Art Photography (Fort Collins, CO), among others. Toni works as the Residency Program Manager at the Santa Fe Art Institute. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

OtherPeoplesPixels: You’ve constructed various apparatuses, including the Vignette-a-scope, that use the iPhone camera to photograph nature. These are reminiscent of the large-format cameras used in early landscape photography. Is showing the camera paramount to understanding the meaning of the photographic imagery? 

Toni Gentilli: In the two series The Thing Itself and Eye of the Beholder, I explore the history of landscape photography and contemplate the roles various framing devices play in our engagement with the natural world, both in the past and in a contemporary context. I consider the iPhone as Claude Glass and the Vignette-a-scope both as artworks themselves and sculptural props that are as integral to the projects as the photographs I create with them. 

To be clear, neither the iPhone as Claude Glass nor the Vignette-a-scope are the actual camera I used to take the images. In The Thing Itself, I use a DSLR to photograph reflections of landscapes in an iPhone, and in Eye of the Beholder, I use an iPhone to take pictures through the Vignette-a-scope. 

Annulohypoxylon thouarsianum

OPP: What is being documented in the works made with the Vignette-a-scope?

TG: In these resulting photographs, a portion of the apparatus acts as an analog framing device that assumes the role of digital cell phone filters. The imagery includes a survey of native and invasive flora in a particular geographic region, in this case, Sonoma County in northern California. By including aspects of the apparatuses together with the scenes captured in and through them, I am referencing how photographs are always mediated by the cultural lenses we impose on them, whether they are taken for scientific, artistic, or personal use.

from The Thing Itself

OPP: What is a Claude Glass? Talk us through the iPhone connection in The Thing Itself (iPhone as Claude Glass).

TG: A Claude Glass is a mid to late eighteenth and early nineteenth century device that changed roles in the hands of its users over the years. Initially, a Claude Glass was a piece of polished, typically convex, black glass often surrounded by velvet and set in a wood or metal case, about the size of an iPhone. Usually oval or rectangular in shape, they were employed by landscape painters to view reflections of natural scenes in such a way that the images took on a sepia hue reminiscent of the moody tonal modulations in Claude Lorraine paintings from the mid to late seventeenth century. 

The Bourgeoisie further popularized this nostalgia for the aesthetics of the preceding generation during the era of The Grand Tour. This was a time when young, male aristocrats would take a year or more hiatus after completing their academic studies at university to travel through Europe and the Mediterranean and appropriate the art, architecture, culture, and biological specimens of foreign places so as to build their cabinets of curiosity and cultivate their “worldliness.” While on their Grand Tours, these young men would visit The Seven Wonders of the World, famous Greco-Roman ruins, and grandiose natural attractions, to bear witness to their magnificence, and boast that they had stood in the shadows of greatness. Whilst at these locations, they would often view the splendors of nature and human ingenuity through a Claude Glass; literally turning their backs on the scenes themselves to look at the reflections in their handheld devices instead. This level of abstraction and mediated / indirect engagement with the world reminds me so much of how people today use cell phones to document that they were there, rather than having a meaningful and direct / visceral experience of place. Additionally, the penchant to transform images from the present into something reminiscent of times past, a practice that is at least three centuries old, also calls to mind digital cell phone filters made to mimic older analog photographic techniques like Polaroids. 

Chlorophyll print from hand-drawn negative on nasturtium leaf. 2013

OPP: I love the chlorophyll prints from on nasturtium leaves from 2013. I imagine these no longer exist. It’s interesting to think that the image is made as the leaf is dying. What role does impermanence play in your practice?

TG: The chlorophyll prints from the Transplant series were made as part of a collaborative installation called, Indicator Species with environmental photographer Marie-Luise Klotz. I transferred a stylized rendering of the Islets of Langerhans, the cell bodies in the pancreas that produce insulin, onto the nasturtium leaves with hand drawn negatives. They were intended to be ephemeral pieces, purposefully imbued with a life cycle of their own, to speak to the fragility and ephemerality of all living things. Impermanence, decay, and transformation are intrinsic to the human experience and everything in the natural world. 

I am interested in incorporating these elements into my art to reflect on my personal experience with chronic disease. Plants as both material and content in my work often serve as analogs for my body’s inability to synthesize sugar—I'm a Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetic—and also to call upon the possibility of healing through herbalism, alchemy, and reconnecting to nature in my art and life. Plants have this extraordinary power to synthesize sugar—life-giving energy—from sunlight and water. These also happen to be key elements in many of the historic and experimental photographic processes I use.

Poppy, Coreopsis, Madder Root, iron, ash, charcoal, bronze ink, watercolor pencil, blood, sugar, and insulin on cotton rag paper. 2015

OPP: What led to the Allelopathic Talismans?

TG: Allelopathy is a biochemical defense mechanism that plants employ to enhance their survival by either having beneficial or negative effects on other plants and organisms in their environment. During a particularly challenging period (health-wise), I turned to my art for catharsis. And ever since then, I have been striving to foster greater integration between my life and creative practice. From this deeply personal, intuitive and vulnerable state, the Allelopathic Talisman series emerged. It is the first project in which I veered away from photography as the method/subject of my work, although, the project has its roots in experimentation with anthotypes, a “photographic process” invented by Sir John Frederick William Herschel in the 1840s. Anthotypes are created by transferring images onto paper coated with “photographic emulsions” made from flower petals or leaves, with either negatives or objects set on top of the paper, which is then put out into the sun to fade, rather than produce a photochemical reaction. 

At some point during this period of experimentation, I abandoned using negatives or even making photograms, and started to draw and paint with the plant-based pigments I was making. It was a revelation for me really, an almost divine moment in which the methods and materials I had been working with for several years opened up my consciousness to the synergy they had with my embodied experience as a Type 1 diabetic, alongside my intellectual and artistic pursuits engaging the history of photography, UV light-sensitive chemistry, Natural Philosophy, Alchemy, photosynthesis, and modern biosciences. 

Hollyhocks, poppy, iron, ash, graphite, chalk, mica, insulin, and blood on cotton rag paper. 2015

OPP: What goes into your pigments?

TG: I incorporate wildcrafted pigments I make from foraged plants with medicinal properties, along with the two kinds of synthetic insulin and antifungal medicine I take, various forms of sugar and mold. I also add earth elements such as mica, graphite, charcoal, ash, chalk and ochre. The process of making each piece really evolves over several days and weeks, including the time I am out on the land gathering raw materials, and then in the studio laboriously processing the elemental components by hand into workable materials. 

The pieces I create with these wildcrafted pigments are talismans intended to evoke healing. The forms include mandalas, spirals and the infinity symbol, as well as organs, fascia, cells, and even the shape of the cavity in my left lung created by the Coccidioides (a microscopic fungal spore that lives in the arid soils of the Southwest and causes what is commonly called Valley Fever) which took up residence there over 8 years ago during the end of my 15-year-long career as an archaeologist.

from Morphological Analysis of 24 Nodules of Brook's Creek Obsidian, A Naturally Occurring Black Glass of Volcanic Origin

OPP: Morphological Analysis of 24 Nodules of Brook's Creek Obsidian, A Naturally Occurring Black Glass of Volcanic Origin and LCD, point to archeological methods. Why is drawing more appropriate than photography for the content of these projects?

TG: The LCD works are actually mixed media pieces comprised largely of pigments I made from dissolved metals such as copper which are used in the production of liquid crystal display screens. The form is based on an iPhone 7 and the content is both a demystification and wonderment at the technology so many people use to capture mundane imagery with smart phones. 

I chose to draw found nodules of obsidian, natural black volcanic glass, to render the details of each rock in a way that photography just cannot capture. The practice of drawing stone tools is something I honed in the 15 years I worked as an archaeologist and I felt compelled to return to. The drawings are a meditation on the focused observation of details; a practice I feel in many ways has been eroded by the oversaturation of images we are subject to through social media and digital technology, particularly the use of cell phone cameras. The black glass is a reference to the ubiquitous screens on which such imagery is captured and viewed.

6" x 4" Graphite on paper. 2015

OPP: What are you up to these days, in your practice and your life?

TG: Since relocating from California to New Mexico and taking on the full time position as Residency Program Manager at the Santa Fe Art Institute, much of my focus has been on my role as an arts administrator and curator (i.e. supporting other artists). But outside of that work, I have been spending a lot of time wildcrafting pigments from native and invasive plant species found throughout the Middle Rio Grande Valley and establishing my home pigment, herb, and vegetable gardens. 

I am working towards a holistic, self-sustainable practice that integrates my reverence for plants, including 22 years of eating a plant-based diet, with herbalism, and crafting all of my own all natural art materials from what grows in my yard. Right now I am fumbling through hand making my own paper from the many mulberry trees and other invasive species such as Russian Elm and Tamarisk (Salt Cedar) that are prolific in this part of New Mexico. 

To see more of Toni's work, please visit tonigentilli.com.

Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in cross-stitch embroideries, remix video, collage and impermanent installations. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006 Stacia was a 2011-2012 Artist-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibitions include shows at Siena Heights University (Michigan 2013), Heaven Gallery (Chicago 2014), the Annex Gallery at Lillstreet Art Center (Chicago 2014), The Stolbun Collection (Chicago 2017) and Indianapolis Art Center (Indianapolis 2017) and Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery (Palos Hills, Illinois 2018). Most recently, Stacia created Renunciation Reliquary as a one-night installation for Chicago Artist Coalition's annual benefit Work in Progress.

OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Kaitlynn Redell

not her(e) (couch), 2016. Digital c-print.

KAITLYNN REDELL's work often begins with photographs, both found and made. Photography's history is steeped in the myth of pure and accurate representation of reality, making it a perfect medium to explore the errors we make when define humans only by their bodies. By cutting into, drawing on and collaging photographic imagery, she explores the relationship between the identities we choose and the ones forced upon us by others. Kaitlynn received her BFA from Otis College of Art and Design in 2009 and her MFA from Parsons the New School for Design in 2013. She has participated in numerous exhibitions nationally and internationally. Her work has been seen most recently in Labors: An Exhibition Exploring the Complexities of Motherhood at Pearl Conard Gallery, Ohio State University in Mansfield, Ohio and the 32nd Biennial of Graphic Arts: Birth as Criterion in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Kaitlynn has been an Parent Artist Resident with her daughter at Popps PackingIn addition to her solo work, she is one half of Redell & Jimenez, an ongoing collaboration with artist Sara Jimenez. They have been Artists-in-Residence at the Wassaic Project and Yaddo. Kaitlynn lives and works in Los Angeles.

OtherPeoplesPixels: Your work addresses “inbetweeness and how ‘unidentifiable’ bodies—that do not identify with standard categories—negotiate identity.” Generally speaking, how do you think about the relationship between identity and the body?

Kaitlynn Redell: This is such a complex question.  I think what is most important to distinguish is the difference between the identities we choose for ourselves versus the identities that are placed upon us by others. I think we are lucky to live in a moment when that distinction is becoming more widely acknowledged. Unfortunately, however, I think the identities that are most commonly placed upon us are directly tied to the body and unfortunately are often used as a way to categorize and control.

Alternate (1), 2011. Cut laser print. 11" x 17."

OPP: Do you always, sometimes or never use your own body/image in the work to address your conceptual concerns? Why or why not?

KR: My work always comes from the personal, so it often makes sense to use my body/image as a direct medium. Sometimes it is more obscured than other times. I am very conscious of the generalized connotations the image of my body has on the work, so how and when I use my body directly correlates to how aware I want the viewer to be to their own assumptions of my identity.

Supporting as Herself (Civic Duty), 2013. Graphite on Duralar.

OPP: Can you talk about the role of hair in Supporting As Herself? I see figures obscured—almost mummified—by their own hair.

KR: Supporting As Herself explores how film stills of Anna May Wong, the 1920s Chinese American actress, carry a sense of historical weight and serve as a contested foundation for my own understanding of identity. The manipulated representation of her public image, the stereotypical roles she played and my proximity to her birthplace—Chinatown, Los Angeles—have created an aura that haunts me to the core. I see Wong as a lynch pin for what it means to be both simultaneously American and foreign. . . to be “othered.”

In my series Supporting as Herself, I use photographs of Wong as a starting point. Through performative mimicking, photography, collage and drawing I explore the ways in which Wong presented/performed race and gender. I created a series of figurative collages and drawings using publicity stills of Wong and images of myself mimicking her poses as reference material. I am interested in how my figurative collages/drawings reference Wong’s image as a starting point, but become amorphous bodies engaged in their own language. The drawing sections done in graphite reference hair, fabric, muscle or some sort of tightly bound covering.  This rendering is meticulous and realistic, but unclear as to if it is hair, muscle or some other sort of fiber. Ultimately, I am interested in how these shape-shifting figures begin to create their own histories, of their own accord.

not her(e) (table), 2017. Digital c-print.

OPP: Your most recent series Not Her(e) gets at the complicated emotions involved in motherhood. These photographs point to the loss of identity and the subsuming of self into the role of mother. Can you talk about the process of making these photographs?

KR: When my daughter was first born, I had a really hard time transitioning my studio practice. My time was so fragmented and when I did get in the studio (aka my dining room table at the time), I felt like I was totally lost and didn’t know what to make. I thought about Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ Maintenance Manifesto every, single day. 

So, I began to change my ways of working to fit my new routine, both conceptually and materially. I was looking at a lot of Victorian Hidden Mother portraiture and thinking about how much of becoming a parent is about being loving and supportive and well as being invisible. And not only how emotional, but physical it was to become this support. I started thinking about and making drawings for this body of work when my daughter was a month old. We shot our first image when she was three months and the last when she was almost two years old. I started making “furniture costumes” for every piece of furniture I used to take care of my kid. And then I would inhabit these costumes and become a part of the support.

Counterbalance, 2012. Collaboration with Sara Jimenez. Single channel video. 0:54 min, loop.

OPP: What does it mean to have a “bi-coastal” collaborative practice with artist Sara Jimenez?

KR: Sara and I started collaborating in 2012 in graduate school at Parsons in New York. She still lives there, but I moved back to LA the summer after graduation. Our collaboration has always been project-based, and we have continued to work in this manner even though we are not in the same city. We apply collaboratively to residencies as well as spend short, intense periods of time together starting and completing projects. We also spend a lot of time planning over video chat. Most recently we attended the Yaddo residency in upstate New York together and will be curating an exhibition here in LA in 2019. The exhibition will include works by artists who explore poetic gestures of the body as an evolving site of communication, language, history and myth, via collaborative based projects. Specifically we are interested in how the process of collaboration activates a space for collective negotiation of our physical and psychic embodiment of identity.

OPP: How has this collaboration influenced or affected your solo practice?

KR: Collaborating with Sara has always been a part of my “mature” art career, so it absolutely affects my solo practice. When you collaborate, you constantly have to discuss every detail with another person and can't just get lost in your own head. So it has really helped me to verbalize my process both physically and conceptually. Before we started collaborating, our solo practices came from very similar conceptual places—which is a big reason why our collaboration has always felt so natural—but were somewhat different in terms of discipline. I come from a drawing, papercutting, painting, textiles/fashion background and Sara from a performance, video and sculpture background. We both had this history of body movement (Sara with dance and me with gymnastics) and I think performing collaboratively with her really allowed me to access that physical space again.

Domestic Air, Space, 2017. Cut digital c-print and balsa wood. 19 x 19 x 5 inches.

OPP: What are you working on right now?

KR: Aside from the curatorial project with Sara, I’m also working on a series of drawings, collages and paper-cut photographs about my great Auntie Hilda Yen. She’s actually my mother’s Aunt, but in Chinese culture the term “Auntie” is kind of all-encompassing for female relatives and close family friends that aren’t your mother or grandmother. I never had the opportunity to meet Hilda, but I am interested in the fluidity of memory and the influx nature of personal and collective histories, which has brought me to researching her. Hilda was one of the first female, Chinese aviators (beginning in the 1930s) and was a member of the League of Nations and the World Women’s Party for Equal Rights. 

I’m interested in the sort of historical and personal mythology that has been built around her and how women like her are so often left out of “commonly known” history. As I’ve gotten deeper into the research she’s become more and more fascinating to me in terms of how she’s been represented (or not) as a historical figure. Equally there is this whole other side in relation to my family’s personal memories of her. I’m interested in the kind of dovetailing between my mother and uncle’s fragmented memories of her and the glimpses of her “historical” representation in newspaper articles and League of Nations documents. A lot of the documentation is so representative of the racial and gender biases of the time period; I’m interested in how that narrative frames the information provided and only tells a fragment of the story. I think that one—unnervingly contemporary—quote from Hilda’s 1935 address to the League of Nations sums up how I interpret her mythology: “Give your women legal equality willingly and in good spirit, or have it taken from you.”

To see more of Kaitlynn's work, please visit kaitlynnredell.com.

Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in cross-stitch embroideries, remix video, collage and impermanent installations. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006 Stacia was a 2011-2012 Artist-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibitions include shows at Siena Heights University (Michigan 2013), Heaven Gallery (Chicago 2014), the Annex Gallery at Lillstreet Art Center (Chicago 2014), The Stolbun Collection (Chicago 2017) and Indianapolis Art Center. Where Do We Go From Here? just closed at Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery (Palos Hills, Illinois). In conjunction with this improvised installation, Stacia invited eight OPP artists—Kathryn Trumbull Fimreite, Brent Fogt, Melinda Thorpe Gordon, Jaclyn Jacunski, Jenny Kendler, Meg Leary,  Geoffry Smalley and Erin Washington—to respond to the text "Where Do We Go From Here?" Each artist approached the question from a different angle, emphasizing that both the We and the Here are not the same for each of us. For Chicago Artist Coalition's annual benefit Work in Progress, Stacia will create a one-night installation that solicits the help of benefit attendees.

Unique Residencies with Very Specific Agendas

LOOKING FOR AN EXTREMELY SECLUDED RETREAT?

Montello Foundation Artist Retreat —Montello, Nevada

Deadline: current deadline has passed; check back in January
Application Fee: $15
Residency Fee: none
Length: 2 weeks
Stipend: no
Food: no meals provided
Family Members/Pets: Sure, no problem, bring them along, but the maximum number of occupants at any given time is 4. And please bring your own blankets for your hairy friends. The Foundation will expect that you will cleanup after your pets and that any damage to the building will be repaired and/or the foundation compensated.

Montello Foundation is a foundation dedicated to support artists who foster our understanding of nature, its fragility, and our need to protect it. The idea behind the retreat is that you are in this amazing desert landscape by yourself.  It's all yours, and you are part of all what is around you. There is no direct interaction with other humans, no staff or other artists, you don't have to be social or not, decide whether you go to your room or chat all night. You focus on being social using your art you work on while you are there, or do sketches to work on it afterwards, or you can just relax from working and spend two week in the hammock. (We are sure you will have at least one great thought and will act upon it afterwards.) Your social responsibility is with the audience of your work, not the immediate humans around you. What's important is to get the message out: Nature is a fragile thing and we have to take care of it. So, no meals are provided, but you will have a fine little kitchen with a fridge.*

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ARE YOU A NATIVE OR FIRST NATIONS ARTIST?

Institute of American Indian Arts A-I-R — Santa Fe, New Mexico

Deadline: March 28, 2018
Application Fee: none
Residency Fee: none
Length: 3-8 weeks
Stipend: $2250 for a three-week residency; $3000 for four-week residency; $4500 for a six-week residency; $6000 for the eight-week Sculpture and Foundry Residency
Food: yes

The IAIA Artist-in-Residence (A-i-R) Program hosts artists for variable-length residencies taking place on the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) campus in Santa Fe, New Mexico, during the Academic year. Each A-i-R program provides opportunities for Native and First Nations artists to travel to the IAIA campus in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for a meaningful period of art-making and interaction with IAIA students, staff and faculty, and the Santa Fe arts community. Applicants whose work engages with cultural traditions through materials, techniques and subject matter are particularly encouraged to apply.

Housing, meal plan for one person on campus, and $200 budget for gas during residency, studio space on campus, $500 materials budget, and airfare to and from IAIA and reimbursement for a rental car, or mileage reimbursement for artists driving a personal vehicle to travel for the residency.

Opening and closing receptions, public workshops and demonstrations, classroom visits, critique sessions with students, and events hosted by other organizations in Santa Fe. There are four types of residencies available: Studio, Sculpture and Foundry, NEA and Sunrise Springs Residencies.

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WOULD YOU LIKE TO WORK WITH MASTER ARTISTS (INCLUDING WRITERS, COMPOSERS AND VISUAL ARTISTS) IN AN INTERDISCIPLINARY ENVIRONMENT?

Atlantic Center for the Arts Master Artist Residency — New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Deadline: deadline for each session is different; view schedule
Application Fee: $25
Residency Fee: $900; financial aid available if accepted
Length: 3 week
Stipend: none
Food: 3 meals a day Monday-Friday; Meals are not provided on the weekends, however, ACA arranges transportation to the market twice a week and the kitchen facilities are available 24/7.

Atlantic Center for the Arts is an innovative nonprofit artists-in-residence program that provides artists with an opportunity to work and collaborate with some of the world’s masters in the visual, literary, and performing arts. Since the program began in 1982, over 3500 artists have been served from the US and around the world.

The three week Residency Program brings together three “Master Artists” from different disciplines, such as the visual arts (painting, sculpture, photography, film/video, and multimedia), architecture, music (composition and performance), literature, choreography, dance, performance art, and theater. Each Master Artist determines the requirements and basic structure of their residency, and through an online application process, they each select eight “Associate Artists” to participate in the three-week program. The essence of the program is to provide a collegial environment for artists of all disciplines where they can engage in meaningful interaction and stimulating discussions, while pursuing individual or group projects. It is an ideal setting for the exchange of ideas, the inspiration for new work, and the cross-fertilization of disciplines. The programs can include formal classes, discussions, individual meetings, individual and group critiques, collaboration, and studio time. The award-winning Leeper Studio Complex provides residents with resources such as a painting studio, sculpture studio, digital media studio, dance studio, music/recording studio, writers’ studio, black box theatre and library.

Associate Artists are provided with a private room with a full-size bed, bathroom with shower, small refrigerator, and desk space with a view of the natural vegetation.

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ARE YOU CONCERNED WITH THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ART and CONSCIOUSNESS?

Lucid Art Foundation — Inverness, California

Deadline: mid-November of each year
Application Fee: $40
Residency Fee: none
Length: 3 weeks
Stipend: none
Food: Lunch provided on weekends; nearest grocery store is 3.8 miles away, so a car is necessary.

The goal of the Lucid Art Residency Program is to provide artists with a serene, retreat-like natural environment for creative exploration and inquiry into arts and consciousness. The mission of the Lucid Art Foundation is to explore the phenomena of the inner worlds and deep levels of consciousness through visual arts, spontaneous painting, writings, and other means to make visible the otherwise invisible, creating an inclusive way of seeing that is in harmony with the natural world of which we are a part.

The Lucid Art Foundation encourages exploration of nonrepresentational art through multimedia, conceptual, ecological, and interdisciplinary approaches. During the three-week residency, artists will have the opportunity to explore the practice of lucid art, with special emphasis on the integration of art, process, and inner awareness. Through this practice, a deeper foundation is created that fosters individual artistic growth and development, as well as the understanding of the artist's role in society.

The residency provides a space to live in (the former studio of the late writer Jacqueline Johnson) and a 650-square-foot art studio called “the Ark.” The Ark was built in 1960 and was a former studio of painter Gordon Onslow Ford and mixed media artist Fariba Bogzaran. The large studio pictured above has a wood burning fireplace, restroom, sink, high ceilings with upper loft, wood walls, skylights, and a private deck off the sliding glass patio doors.The cottage has Wi-Fi, a bedroom, a living room, 2 bathrooms, wood burning stove, continuous wooden deck, and a full kitchen stocked with necessary cooking utensils. Parking and laundry facilities are on-site. There is also a print shop with a Sturges press available for use by artists who are experienced printmakers. Only water based mediums may be used on the press.*

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IS YOUR WORK SITE-RESPONSIVE? 
ARE YOU INSPIRED BY UNDERUSED SPACES? 
DO YOU LIKE TO GET OUT OF THE WHITE CUBE?

THE BIRDSELL PROJECT —South Bend, Indiana

Deadline: April 10th
Application Fee: $25
Residency Fee: none
Length: 6-9 weeks in the summer
Stipend: $500 for materials
Food: none

The Birdsell Project seeks to revitalize underutilized spaces by opening them to artists and the community in South Bend, a rust-belt city in northern Indiana. The Birdsell Project creates community space that reflects upon South Bend’s history, celebrates current artistic endeavors, and experiments with future methods of merging art and community.

The Birdsell Project Residency Program invites artists to create work in underutilized buildings around downtown South Bend. Artists participating in the residency will create site-specific installations that respond to the spaces they are working in, allowing artists and the public new ways to contemplate and understand these spaces. The program offers a collaborative environment for participating artists as well as engages them with the community at large.

The 2018 summer residency will culminate in a show in a century-old production facility that once housed a dry-cleaners—the location changes each year.

Artists will have access to the installation space and separate work space throughout the residency. Artists are encouraged to use the installation space as their primary studio space, so that the work can truly respond to and be integrated with the building. The residency provides access to some tools. Residents will be housed in a home within a 20 minute walk of downtown. We encourage a cooperative living environment and artists are expected to contribute to the maintenance of the house and communal work spaces. Local artists are not required to live in Birdsell Project accommodations.

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ARE YOU A LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANS or QUEER IDENTIFYING EMERGING ARTIST?

Fire Island Artist Residency — Fire Island, New York

Deadline: March 25, annually 
Application Fee: $45 
Residency Fee: none 
Length: July 21 - August 16 
Stipend: stipend for food

Fire Island Artist Residency (FIAR) is an organization founded in 2011 which brings lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer identifying emerging artists to Fire Island, a place long-steeped in LGBTQ history, to create, commune, and contribute to the location's rich artistic history.

FIAR provides free live/work space to five selected artist residents who work, research, relax, and immerse themselves in the Fire Island community, during which time they are visited by a handful of renowned visiting artists, curators, and art professionals who commune with residents through intimate visits, dinners, and discussions, providing support and feedback. The greater Fire Island community as well as visitors from New York and Long Island are invited to attend free public lectures by these esteemed guests. This has been made possible through a partnership with Arts Project Cherry Grove. FIAR occupies rented beach house properties which are modestly converted into live/work spaces which include outdoor space for artist working with materials requiring ventilation as well as a small selection of hand tools such as drills.

In this way, FIAR hopes to bring both new creative perspectives and prestigious art professionals together in this extraordinary location to foster the creation—and preservation—of queer art-making in contemporary art.*

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ARE YOU PART OF A COLLABORATIVE OR A COLLECTIVE?

Drop Forge & Tool’s Creative Residencies — Hudson, New York

Deadline: Jan 15 (for summer), May 15 (for fall) and September 15 (for winter) 
Application Fee: $10 
Residency Fee: $175 per person per week, with discounts offered for collaborative groups of 4 or more. We reserve a few spaces each residency period for artists or collaborative groups who do not have funding and cannot afford the fee. 
Length: a few days to 3 weeks 
Stipend: none 
Food: basic breakfast supplies and one dinner per week with the directors

Our emphasis is on collaborative process and new work development. We prioritize residency applications as follows: 1) Collaborative Group: A group of two or more artists looking for residency time for concentrated collaborative work on the same project. 2) Co-working Group: A group of two or more artists who are would like to share residency time and space together, but are not necessarily collaborating on the same project. 3)Individual Artist: One artist willing to share the residency space with one or many other artists.

We can accommodate 7-12 artists at a time—or more, if you’re good friends! Residents are responsible for taking everyday care of the residency space, doing basic household chores (like dishes, cleaning and taking out the trash), and helping with seasonal work like snow shoveling or gardening where needed.

For artists who would like an opportunity to show their work-in-progress to a friendly, supportive community, we can host a performance, open studio, or other type of showing, either in the DF&T space, or with a local partner. In the past, we’ve had theater performances, house concerts, book release parties, open readings, small gallery viewings and open studios.*

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DO YOU WORK IN A CRAFT MEDIUM? WANT A REALLY LOOOOOOONG RESIDENCY?

Penland School of Crafts — Penland, North Carolina

Deadline: January 15th
Application Fee: $25
Residency Fee: Rent: $187.50 per month Utilities: $150-$200 per month
Length: 3 years
Stipend: none
Food: Meals are provided when the school is in session, approximately March-April, June-August, and mid-September-mid-November

Penland's resident artists are full-time, self-supporting artists who spend three years living and working in the Penland School of Crafts community. The program is designed for artists who are at some pivotal moment in their career—the residency is an opportunity for them to test ideas and make choices that will have a lasting effect on their work and their lives. Resident artists may use the time to develop their studio practice, to work out the practicalities of making a living, to push technical and conceptual boundaries, or to explore entirely new directions in their work.

The primary expectation of resident artists is that they engage intently with their work. They are also expected to have an open door policy, welcoming students, instructors, and the public to their studios, both informally and formally through the resident open house that is part of each Penland session. Pets, spouses and children allowed.

Education at Penland is built around intense, total-immersion workshops. The resident artist program enriches the workshop program in a variety of ways: students are inspired by the work and the work spaces of the resident artists, who serve as models for the kind of commitment required for sustained artistic production. And, with seven or eight participants at any given time, the program provides diverse examples of ways to make a life in craft.

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*Text taken directly from residency websites.


OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Hoesy Corona

Alien Nation, 2017. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

HOESY CORONA takes a multimedia approach to art-making. His complex performance works, which involve movement, costume, light and sound, balance alienation with celebration. His sculptural works explore the role of scapegoating in maintaining cultural dominance. Concerned with a queerness, immigration and climate change, he explores the many forms of marginalization in North American society. Hoesy earned his BFA at The Maryland Institute College of Art in 2009 and is currently a MAT candiate. He has exhibited at The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Walters Art Museum and The Peale Museum, among numerous others. In 2017, he received an Andy Warhol Foundation Grit Fund Grant and, in 2016, a Ruby’s Project Grant in Visual Arts. He is a 2017-2018 Halcyon Arts Lab Fellow, as well as an Artist-in Residence at the Fillmore School Studio in Washington, D.C. Hoesy lives and works in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland.

OtherPeoplesPixels: Costumes that obscure the identity of the wearer feature prominently in your performance work, especially The Nobodies (2009-present). Who are The Nobodies?

Hoesy Corona: The Nobodies are no one and everyone at once. In this series I consider what it means to be a disenfranchised member of society in North America by embodying the abstract concept of nobody, nothing all of a sudden becomes individualized, becomes body and eyes, becomes no one. I started this series after reading The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz in which he describes the fraught psyches in the relationship between Mexico and The United States in detail. As a Mexican immigrant artist living in the U.S. for most of my life, I consider the paradox of the simultaneous visibility and invisibility of the immigrant in the U.S. In this series I invite audience members to participate in the act of nobodying, an operation that consists of making somebody into nobody. 

Nobodies Gala, 2016.

OPP: Can you talk about the materials you use to construct the wearable sculptures?

HC: I use a variety of familiar everyday materials to construct these wearable sculptures. When I started the series in 2009, I was working as a florist and was drawn to discarded floral packaging materials—cellophane, ribbons, mylar, silk florals, and mesh nettings—and collected them obsessively. Once I had amassed a substantial amount of stuff, I then transformed the materials into other-worldly colorful wearable sculptures that accompanied a live performance. I no longer work as a florist, but I am still interested in using different types of plastics as well as wigs, silk flowers, lights, clear film, and adhesive vinyls to construct new Nobodies

OPP: What kinds of movements do the Nobodies perform in public spaces?

HC: The movements in the Nobodies are very subtle and sculptural. Oftentimes, viewers don’t realize that the  sculptures are being animated by real people. The slow movements invite the audience members to pause as they consider the situation before them. In public spaces these performances are particularly poignant as the unsuspecting viewers encounter the Nobodies in their natural setting. 

Scapegoat Monument, 2014.

OPP: The Scapegoats show up both as static sculptures—some life sized and some tiny—and performance characters. Do you see one iteration as more successful than the other? How do they work differently on the audience?

HC: I often intertwine the archetype of the scapegoat as a way to have us visualize the strategic selection of somebody, made into nobody, for the supposed wellbeing of the group. The sculptural forms don’t always involve a live performance, but are still performative in their context. In Scapegoat Thrones, for instance, I use found chair structures as the base of each sculpture and ask audience members to consider the cost of the comfort that is afforded to them in the world. So while there is no live performance involved, the audience can still imagine themselves in relation to the chair forms. Most recently during a residency at Ox-Bow School of Art, I worked in the ceramic studio to construct miniature Scapegoat Idols that can be handled by audience members. My hope is that one day each person in the US will have their own Scapegoat Idol that they can use to liberate themselves from negative feelings of blame and shame.

Scapegoat Idol, 2016

OPP: Tell us about Alien Nation (2017) at the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington D.C. 

HC: Alien Nation, curated by Victoria Reis at The Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, was my most ambitious site specific performance to date. It included with 24 performers and two musicians. This mysterious and surprising shadow casting performance originated in response to the unique circular architecture of the museum. I knew I wanted to do something of a global scale that implicated a broad audience and included as many people as possible, so I conceived the idea of climate induced migration as a very real issue of our time that needs to be voiced. 

OPP: The piece was viewable from the inside and from the outside. . . how were the viewing experiences different?

HC: Although the museum was open late and visitors had the opportunity to sneak a peek of the performers on the second floor rotunda, most of the 1,200 audience members were patiently waiting outside around the fountain for the performance to begin as intended. Once outside, audience members saw 24 climate-immigrants backlit with purple light creating mysterious and surprising shadows in each of the 24 windows on the second floor rotunda. The 24 performers wore what I call “climate ponchos,” which included head gear that obscured the performers faces, an approach I chose because of the mystery and anonymity it afforded. Always silent these figures created subtle, sculptural movements in various locations that were complemented by live drumming juxtaposed with natural foley sounds that included ice-cracking, loons, and running water.  Slowly over the course of the performance the Climate-Immigrants started to descend downstairs and continued on their journey through the sea of bodies.

The clear wearable climate ponchos were adorned with images that depicted the archetype of the Traveler, with the people depicted wearing backpacks, carrying suitcases, wearing hats and some holding children. They were all on their way somewhere, in one direction a lot of the times. This simple showing of people in movement, in transition, resonates with a world-wide issue and echoed the reality of the viewers as they themselves traversed space to witness the performance. 

Alien Nation, 2017. Video documentation of performance.

OPP: In the Fall of 2017, you began a Fellowship at the Halcyon Arts Lab. Tell us bit about the program and your experience. How did it change your work?

HC: Halcyon Arts Lab is a fully funded, nine-month, international incubator that nurtures socially engaged artists in Washington D.C. I was lucky enough to be selected as one of 8 fellows for the inaugural cohort 2017-2018 to continue my work on Alien Nation. The program includes a range of professional development opportunities as well as tons of studio visits from renowned arts professionals. In addition, I am being mentored by Alberto Fierro Garza, Director of The Mexican Cultural Institute of Washington D.C. and mentoring a young artist myself. In the short seven months that I’ve been here, my practice has strengthen by leaps and bounds, I suspect this has everything to do with the nurturing environment the fellowship provides. I encourage all socially engaged artists to keep an eye on this fellowship and consider applying in the years to come! 

To see more of Hoesy's work, please visit hoesycorona.com.

Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in cross-stitch embroideries, remix video, collage and impermanent installations. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006 Stacia was a 2011-2012 Artist-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibitions include shows at Siena Heights University (Michigan 2013), Heaven Gallery (Chicago 2014), the Annex Gallery at Lillstreet Art Center (Chicago 2014), The Stolbun Collection (Chicago 2017) and Indianapolis Art Center. Where Do We Go From Here? just closed at Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery (Palos Hills, Illinois). In conjunction with this improvised installation, Stacia invited eight OPP artists—Kathryn Trumbull Fimreite, Brent Fogt, Melinda Thorpe Gordon, Jaclyn Jacunski, Jenny Kendler, Meg Leary,  Geoffry Smalley and Erin Washington—to respond to the text "Where Do We Go From Here?" Each artist approached the question from a different angle, emphasizing that both the We and the Here are not the same for each of us. For Chicago Artist Coalition's annual benefit Work in Progress, Stacia will create a one-night installation that solicits the help of benefit attendees.

A Sampling of Media-Specific Residencies

Lawrence Arts Center 
Location: Lawrence, Kansas 
Deadline: April 15 
Application Fee: $35 
Residency Fee: none 
Length: 1 year (August 1 - July 31) 
Stipend: $1000 per month 
Food: none

Ceramics and Printmaking Artist-in-Residency programs are designed to provide a creative environment for emerging artists and to broaden the center’s students and faculty awareness of new approaches and techniques. These year-long residencies begin on August 1 and end on July 31. The ideal candidates should have an MFA in ceramics and printmaking, respectively, and be self-directed and able to work independently. Preference is given to candidates who have demonstrated artistic excellence as well as interest in experimentation and innovative techniques. The resident will be provided studio space, a private bedroom in a shared housing facility, a monthly stipend of $1,000, and 24 hour access to all studios, including print, ceramics, drawing and painting, metal, photography, and digital media. These 12-month residencies provide a multi-faceted experience that includes teaching, community outreach, interaction with other artists, and studio care, and culminate in an exhibition of new work. Click here for facilities.

Project-based Residencies also available:
The goal of project-based residences at the Lawrence Arts Center is to help support, sustain, and foster growth in the arts and artists by providing material support for development of special projects, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary works, helping local artists to create works competitive on a national scale. Selected artists receive a stipend for their project, use of studio space at Arts Center during established times, and up to 8 hours of private instruction in any studio space or medium. Selected artists will receive a stipend of up to $300 per project, use of studio space at Arts Center established times, and up to 8 hours of private instruction in any studio space or medium. Housing will be provided, and the duration of the project based residency is 2 weeks – 4 months.

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Lux Art Center 
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska 
Deadline: April 1 
Application Fee: $15 
Residency Fee: none 
Length: 1 year (beginning in August) 
Stipend: $80 per month for supplies; Residents have priority for paid teaching opportunities including community art classes for youth and adults. Residents with an MFA or BFA in painting, metals or ceramics may have the opportunity to teach college art classes for Doane College-Lincoln campus, held at the LUX.  
Housing: none

LUX Center for the Arts is a non-profit arts center that has been serving the Lincoln community for 40 years.  LUX Center for the Arts began its residency program in 2003 to provide emerging artists with opportunities to hone their studio skills and gain an appreciation for teaching public art classes for youth and adults.  Residencies are offered in ceramics, painting, drawing, mixed media, fibers, and metals. These opportunities are tailored to artists who have an appreciation for community both at the LUX and within the larger context of Lincoln. Three positions available: two for ceramics, and one for painting, drawing, metals, fibers, or mixed media. Artists with more than one area of expertise and a strong desire to teach are preferred. This residency can be extended an additional year if both the LUX and the artist agree. 

All residents are offered exclusive representation in the sales gallery for the duration of their residency. Residents of a year or longer are also given a solo exhibition during one of the final months of their residency. There are also one large and one small experimental gallery where residents can try their hand at curating group exhibitions as well as students and community shows. 

90 sq. ft. - 140 sq. ft. private studios are provided for each resident. Studio assignments are based on seniority and size of artwork. Additional workspace is available in our larger teaching studios as needed. All residents have access to equipment regardless of artistic discipline. Training on other equipment can be provided if needed.

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Lower East Side Printshop 
Location: New York, New York 
Deadline: March 1, 2018
Application Fee: none 
Residency Fee: none 
Length: 1 year (April 1 - October 1) 
Stipend: $1000 
Food and Lodging: none

The Keyholder Residency Program offers emerging artists free 24-hour access to printmaking facilities to develop new work and foster their artistic careers. Keyholders work independently, in a productive atmosphere alongside other contemporary artists. Artists from all disciplines are eligible to apply; print-making skills are not required, but some familiarity with the medium is recommended. Basic instruction in printmaking techniques is available for new Keyholders. Technical assistance is not included in the program, but is available at additional cost.

Participation is competitive. Applications are evaluated by a rotating committee of artists, critics, curators, and art professionals based on the quality of submitted artwork. A total of 8 artists are awarded the residency annually. Artists based in the New York City area and without access to a studio space are encouraged to apply.

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Kala Art Institute 
Location: Berkeley, California 
Deadline: May 18 
Application Fee: $30 
Stipend: $3,000 for Fellows 
Length: 1-6 months 
Food and Lodging: none

For over 30 years, Kala Art Institute has annually awarded artists time, space, and financial support for their work through the Kala Fellowship award. The Kala Fellowship award is an international competition open to artists from the U.S. and around the world. Artists producing innovative work in all mediums including printmaking, digital media, installation art, social practice, photography, and book arts are encouraged to apply. Fellowship Awards are given based on conceptual creativity, originality, and artistic excellence as well as technical knowledge. Please note that this is a studio residency only; housing is not included. Artists are responsible for finding their own housing.

In 2018, Kala will award six artists a $3,000 stipend, unlimited access to Kala’s facilities for up to six months, one Kala class, and a culminating show in the Kala Gallery. The award is geared towards supporting artists in completing specific projects or bodies of work that would benefit from Kala’s specialized equipment in printmaking and digital media.

Non-fellowship AIR
Artists working in various printmaking techniques, photo-processes, book arts and digital media including video production can apply to become an Artist-in-Residence. Residency applications are accepted online three times per year. Artists who apply for a residency should be familiar with at least one of the media offered at Kala. Considerations for acceptance are conceptual creativity and technical knowledge. Resident artists receive year-round 24-hour access to the printmaking workshop and/or electronic media center, individual storage space, possible exposure on Kala’s website and in other exhibitions at Kala or outside exhibition spaces, and participation in a vital, international artistic community. Artists also receive a 20% discount on classes and private tutoring offered by Kala.

Parent Artist Residency
We recognize that each artist-family has its own set of challenges when seeking a residency program. Families with multiple children of varying ages have different needs than families with older, more independent children. By offering a flexible residency experience in addition to our standard residency programs, we hope to create multiple entry points for artists to create artwork amidst the ever-evolving and diverse demands of family life. The Parent Artist Residency Program at Kala is generously supported by Sustainable Arts Foundation. In 2017, Kala offered a fifth round of Parent Artist Residency Awards to seven recipients. Each parent artist awardee will create an individual residency plan with up to $1000 worth of services that cover the residency, classes, Camp Kala for their children, or consulting with Kala staff about professional development opportunities.

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Spudnik Press Cooperative 
Location: Chicago, Illinois 
Deadline: April 1 
Application Fee: none 
Stipend: $250 to $900 
Length: 1-6 weeks (June 1, 2018 – August 31, 2018) 
Food and Lodging: none

The Spudnik Press Cooperative Residency Program provides mid-career to established artists one to six weeks of full studio access and the support necessary for the production of new print-based artwork. The Residency Program supports a broad range of artists, including those working outside of the discipline of printmaking and in communities beyond Chicago. Each residency will be modified to adapt to the interests and needs of the individual artist.

The Resident Artists also play an integral role in the Spudnik Press community, bringing new perspectives, experiences and resources as they partake in a variety of public programs and professional opportunities throughout the duration of their residency. These activities vary from one artist to the next and may entail participating in artist talks, private events, and critiques, teaching master workshops, or presenting an exhibition.

Stipends offered to each resident artist will vary based on the duration of the residency, travel distance or travel costs, and estimated time commitment to community-based activities such as teaching, guest speaking, and providing studio visits. 

For the first time, our Residency Program is now open to national and international artists.  However, the program is dedicated to supporting at least one local artist each year. Please note that this is a studio residency only; housing is not included. Artists are responsible for finding their own housing.*

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Harvest Works 
Location: New York, New York 
Deadline: the 2018 deadline has passed; check back in January 2019 
Application Fee: $5 
Stipend: $2,000 artist fee; up to $3000 more for for TEAM lab activities including research and development, sound and image production, programming and prototyping
Length: 11 months 
Food and Lodging: none

The Harvestworks New Works Residency is a national program that offers American artists and legal US residents commissions of up to $5000 to make a new work in our Technology, Engineering, Art and Music (TEAM) lab.  Each artist receives up to a $2000 artist fee with the balance of the award used for TEAM lab activities including research and development, sound and image production, programming and prototyping. The artist works with a team comprised of Harvestworks’ Project Manager and consultants, technicians or instructors. The proposed projects should explore new aesthetic premises and push the boundaries of conventional art forms and media.

Special Initiatives: The Harvestworks Creative Residency Program in Emerging Technology will commission artists using emerging technology such as biosensors, immersive audio and video, virtual and augmented reality, camera and eye tracking systems, data sonification or visualization, mobile, new computer interfaces and controllers and new ways to engage with social media and communities.

Composers are encouraged to apply to explore new technology for space and spatialization of sound in contemporary music.

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Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center 
Location: Troy, New York 
Deadline: rolling, at least nine months before your desired residency 
Application Fee: none 
Stipend: none 
Length: depends on project 
Housing: EMPAC may support residencies with accommodation in the EMPAC artist residency housing, a building with four apartments. 
Facilities and equipment: click here

We encourage applications for a wide range of projects from a diversity of artists, composers, directors, choreographers, and performers of different cultural and geographic backgrounds. We are open to proposals for all phases of a project, from initial concept to full production. If EMPAC is interested in supporting the project, subsequent meetings will be conducted with the curatorial and production teams to discuss content, technology, budget, timeline and overall resources. A project proposal may be adapted and updated based on the outcome of theses conversations.

We will provide on-campus accommodations and the technical infrastructure and staff to fulfill the project goals. Applicants must secure funding for travel, materials and fees associated with their project.

Our mission is to foster the development of new technologies for project-based needs, leverage recent scientific and engineering research directions within the scope of the creative process, and optimally use the complex infrastructure and resources. While there will be work produced at EMPAC that does not utilize “high-tech tools,” EMPAC especially encourages projects which take advantage of EMPAC’s unique capacities and infrastructure.

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Pulp & Deckle — Portland, Oregon 
Deadline: The application period for 2018 residencies is closed. Please check back in fall for the 2019 application. 
Application Fee: none 
Stipend: $250 
Length: 1 month (between May and August) 
Food and Lodging: none

The c3: Papermaking Residency was established in 2014 to engage artists with little or no experience in hand papermaking, and offer them an opportunity to learn the craft and stretch the limitations of what the medium can do. Provided with instruction, guidance and technical assistance from a professional papermaker/artist at our studio, residents create and exhibit new work outside their usual area of practice.

Each year, four artists are selected for intensive month long residencies during which they work in our studio. Lead papermaker, Jenn Woodward provides guidance for residents to help realize their individual projects. She also educates and assists residents with all equipment use, fiber preparation, cleaning, and any other studio needs. Upon completion of the year-long studio residency, a group exhibition is held at c3:initiative or a partnering location.

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OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Mikey Kelly

Be Love Now v1.0 17.084. Acrylic on linen. 60" diameter x 1-1/2" depth. 2017.

MIKEY KELLY (@mikeykellystudio) explores the spiritual undertones of abstract painting. Line is his primary mark, and his meticulous methods yield surprising, vibrating networks of color. Mikey earned his BFA at University of Oregon and his MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art. His work is included in the permanent collections at the Cranbrook Museum of Art, the Frankl Foundation for Art and the Neiman Marcus Corporate Collection, and he has been an Artist-in-Residence at Kala Art Institute (Berkeley) and at Lucid Art Foundation (Inverness, CA). He's represented by Chandra Cerrito Contemporary(Oakland), where he has had two solo shows. His work is on view until May 20, 2018 in the Lucid Art Foundation Annual Artist Show at GRO in Point Reyes, California and in Proto_Pop at Dab Art in Ventura, California. Mikey lives and works in Napa, California, where he recently completed the Painted Poem Mural

OtherPeoplesPixels: In your statement, you say, “The paintings truly need to be seen in person to fully experience them.” What am I missing as a viewer who’s only seen your work online?

Mikey Kelly: Changing tonalities and perspectives can’t be caught by the single image capture of a camera and need an advanced brain and the higher resolution of the human eye to truly experience these effects. When one gets closer to the paintings colors begin to separate and what you may have thought was a blue was actuality your eye mixing two or even three different colors to make that blue. There are also times when the canvases seem to bow or stretch visually as one moves around the pieces. These paintings test the viewer’s visual, neural and perceptual plasticity.

Embattlements 13.218.1. Mild steel, powder coat. 26"H x 21"W x 4"D. 2013

OPP: You used to work in powder-coated steel (2011-2014). I see a formal connection between your current systems-based paintings and the line variations in the steel sculpture. Are the processes at all similar despite the difference in media?

MK: All my work starts with a line. Formally they begin at the same place, but the sculpture work is much older than the drawings and paintings. The sculptures did dramatically inform the drawing and painting from their beginning, as I was familiar with playing with lines and the patterns that overlaying subsequent lines create. The process of making work changed dramatically a few years ago when I moved from the sculptural realm to the two-dimensional.

Mantra (Om Namah Shivaya) 17.016. Acrylic on linen. 24"H x 24"W x 1-1/2"D. 2017.

OPP: Can you describe your algorithmic process for making paintings? 

MK: My process starts with an analog program using encryption methods developed for secretly passing information that can convert language into numbers. This is a generative way of designing paintings that leaves the outcome unknown. I start with a base 26 variation of a Vigenere cipher that allows me to convert language into numbers. The result is a string of numbers that I then use to calculate the angle of each series of lines. I end up with an algorithm that directs the line spacing, angle, line width and color in a predetermined sequence before I ever start painting. This means that I work with no preconceived idea of what the final piece will look like. Each series of lines results in color shifting and new interference patterns each step of the way.

Buddha 16.264. Acrylic on Linen. 11"H x 11"W x 1-1/2"D. 2016

OPP: How do you get such straight lines?

MK: The painting process starts with the construction of a scale outside the boundaries of the canvas. This allows me to use a straight edge to maintain the same angle across the canvas as each line is painted. I use a pin striping tool that was developed in the early 1900s—it is essentially a syringe with a wheel at the end. This tool allows me to paint consistent straight lines of the same width without variation.

OPP: What can the paintings do that the sculptures could not? And vice versa? 

MK: While both are quite formal, the paintings feel more like true expression of myself. Sculptures on the one hand allow space, distance, volume, light and shadow into play. This creates a lot of variables that a two-dimensional painting can never encompass. But the paintings have allowed me to incorporate outside interests into the design and underlying structure of the work. This is why I have been exploring ways of combining the two so I can incorporate what I love in both into one piece.

P.O.S., Acrylic on goatskin, wood and deer lacing, 62”H x 42”W x 1-1/2D.” 2018.

OPP: Recently, you’ve shifted away from the conventional rectangle to the circle and even stretched goat skin. What’s led you to this format change? Are these anomalies or an entirely new direction?

MK: This is definitely a new direction that the work is heading in. Working the way I do, I find that using a shape other than a square or rectangle allows for more freedom and a less confined feeling to the painting. This came about from working on a few murals and installations that I completed in the past year.

I have been working towards the goal of making more dimensional paintings that incorporate many different techniques and materials. I plan on incorporating more leather, steel and neon into my work in the near future. I find the flat surface of a painting to be confining and would like to see how warping or stretching the canvas or leather over other shapes will influence the viewing of the work.

The Happiness Project, 2018. StARTup Art Fair LA, Acrylic on Cardboard, 96”H x 192”W x 192”D.

OPP: Tell us about the Happiness Project.

MK: The idea was to make an installation that felt like the positive energy that was in the paintings. The Happiness Project started while I was preparing for StARTup Art Fair LA and was trying to figure out how I could transform a hotel room into a full immersive experience. I decided the way to accomplish this would be to fill the entire room by lining every square inch of the walls with painted cardboard panels. I began by taking two word positive affirmations, running them through my analog program and then painting the resulting angles on cardboard shipping pads. Over 30 panels were cut and fit around all the furniture, light switches and outlets.

After the initial installation, I had the opportunity to install the panels again this time at Chandra Cerrito Contemporary. For this iteration I decided to further cut the panels down and to also rotate them creating more complexity to the installation as the lines now ran both vertically and horizontally and the joints became more complex and varied.

The third iteration was as a Special Project Artist at StARTup Art Fair SF.  This installation became the backdrop for their panel discussion series and broadcast on Facebook live. This most recent version included much smaller pieces while still playing with the complexity of the previous version.

16.058. Acrylic on Paper. 40"H x 26"W. 2016

OPP: What does the phrase “spirituality hacking” mean to you?

MK: I started looking at different forms of religion and certain religious movements during a time I attended a series of events at the Rubin Museum in New York City. Most religious belief systems seem to have a short cut to attaining enlightenment or a closeness with God. Saying a certain prayer, doing a certain form of meditation or the spinning of a prayer wheel are all ways to cheating the system in a sense.

So this Idea of “spirituality hacking” became an element that I started incorporating in my work. I began by using the analog program I developed, which enabled me to take a prayer or mantra and to use it as the input. This then gave me a series of numbers that I could use as direction to paint from. This also led to incorporating rotations of the canvas during the painting process to create a painting as a representation of a spinning prayer wheel.

Mantra (Om Ami Dewa Hrih) 17.040. Acrylic on linen. 12"H x 12"W x 1-1/2"D. 2017.

OPP: But it sounds like the precise complexity of your process isn’t really a short cut at all. Perhaps the focus and flow of the studio is the direct path to enlightenment. . .

MK:  Although there are elements of my work that have a very spiritual jump off point, I feel like the work truly needs to be viewed as an abstract piece of art first and foremost. Throughout art history spirituality has played a very specific role. When abstraction began in painting, that role did not diminish; it just went unspoken. I have chosen to be vocal about the influences of spirituality in my practice. But if I am not there or if the wall label doesn’t tell you, then the work simply becomes a painting to be judged on its formal qualities.

Many people think that making this work must be meditational. Making these paintings means making the same type of mark thousands and thousands of times. Muscle memory aside, if I just leave the present for a moment while painting, I will make a mistake. It can be very stressful and physical. I endure the struggle because the end result contains such an amazing vibratory power. I hope the work brings joy and physical beauty into the lives of others and maybe helps them find a direct path to enlightenment.

See more of Mikey's work at mikeykelly.com.

Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in cross-stitch embroideries, remix video, collage and impermanent installations. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006 Stacia was a 2011-2012 Artist-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibitions include shows at Siena Heights University (Michigan 2013), Heaven Gallery (Chicago 2014), the Annex Gallery at Lillstreet Art Center (Chicago 2014), The Stolbun Collection (Chicago 2017) and Indianapolis Art Center. Where Do We Go From Here? just closed at Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery (Palos Hills, Illinois). In conjunction with this improvised installation, Stacia invited eight OPP artists—Kathryn Trumbull Fimreite, Brent Fogt, Melinda Thorpe Gordon, Jaclyn Jacunski, Jenny Kendler, Meg Leary,  Geoffry Smalley and Erin Washington—to respond to the text "Where Do We Go From Here?" Each artist approached the question from a different angle, emphasizing that both the We and the Here are not the same for each of us. For Chicago Artist Coalition's annual benefit Work in Progress, Stacia will create a one-night installation that solicits the help of benefit attendees.

OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Nahúm Flores

Double Vision, 2011. Mixed media on canvas.

NAHUM FLORES (@nahum_a_flores) explores human emotion in drawing, painting and ceramics. His human figures and faces, often rendered in simple black lines, are profoundly expressive of the emotions associated with despair, loss, paranoia, dislocation and alienation, but they are not devoid of hope. The barren landscapes from which the characters emerge reflect Nahúm's personal experiences growing up in Honduras, surrounded by social upheaval and war, as well as his emigration from Honduras at the age of 14. Nahúm earned his BFA in Drawing and Painting at Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto. He exhibits internationally with group shows in Canada, Honduras, United States, El Salvador, Mexico, Croatia, Guatemala and Costa Rica. His solo exhibitions include Los Herederos at Museum of National Identity (Honduras, 2016) and Inheritors at Articsók Gallery (Toronto, 2014). Nahúm has been the recipient of a Pollock–Krasner Foundation Grant (2012), a Toronto Arts Council Mid-career Project Grant (2014) and a Sustainable Arts Foundation Grant (2016). He is one-third of Z’Otz Collective, a collaboration with artists Ilyana Martinez and Erik Jerezano. Together they created Greeting Silence (2017) at Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George British Columbia. Nahúm lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

OtherPeoplesPixels: The figures in your work are simply drawn, but evoke complicated human emotions. How does your drawing style contribute to the emotional intensity? 

Nahúm Flores: Over a long time, I have been making ink drawings in small sketchbooks in a diary-like manner and in mixed media on canvas and wood panels where I fuse drawing and matter. In my drawings, I work quickly from one to the next, spontaneously filling sketchbooks with minute line depictions that are simple or naïve in nature, but evoke issues from a subconscious level. Little figures or characters appear on the surfaces animated by their surrounding environments. Some of them are in dialogue with one another. Some seduce me to respond viscerally to them with phrases that I write. Others mock the viewer and blur out words.

I find great freedom and comfort working in this impromptu fashion because I feel I establish a genuine communication with myself. It is like a mirror reflecting images of memory, which surfaces as a poetic language of drawing and matter. The merging characters are sometimes funny and other times somber, showing both a dark and soft side of humanity. The landscapes they inhabit are barren and reference my personal history growing up in Honduras.

Untitled drawing

OPP: The figures are often really elongated or crouched down. Can you talk about these exaggerations?

NF: The process in which I work gives birth to characters in sequences. These characters dialogue with each other and linger in undefined spaces. They are characters of shifting identities that lure my imagination with ideas, interpretations and questions. Honduras is a country with both Indigenous and Catholic beliefs, and a lot of hybrid customs make their way into my work. The myth of the Cadejo is one I remember hearing the most when I was a kid. The Cadejo is a spirit that resembles a dog. There is a good one that is white and an evil one that is black. The Cadejo would appear to people at night, and it would transform from small to a big animal according to the curiosity of the viewer. They would visit houses in search of charcoal to eat in the bonfires. They loathed piloncillo (powdered brown sugar). The evil one would get you lost and make you crazy. This duality of good and bad is a theme that continually surfaces in my work. I see it as a metaphor of life. The dichotomy in my work is rooted in my beliefs, upbringing, and life experience.

from series Shaped by the Journey, 2013. Mixed media on flattened pop-cans.

OPP: Tell us about the drawings on found garbage like sardine cans and crushed soda cans.

NF: My ongoing series Dwellings (sardine cans) and Shaped by the Journey (soda cans) consists of drawings on objects I picked up from the streets. These discarded cans contain environments and history; they are symbols of waste. The drawings comment on some of the conditions of im/migration: disorientation, alienation, displacement, dehumanization, hope and adaptation. 

As a child in Honduras, I was influenced by, the social, economic, historical and environmental issues that shaped Central America in the 70s and 80s during the Cold War. Our everyday lives were affected by fear, paranoia, violence, poverty and war propaganda. I left my country of origin on my own at the age of 14, determined to find a better life, and experienced a challenging and incredible odyssey. I spent some years in Mexico and in the USA undocumented. This experience as a migrant drives me to reflect it through my work. 

A dwelling or home is associated with permanence, stability and a sense of place, often lacking in many migrants’ lives. In these drawings set within the objects, characters or dwellers peek out of their homes wearing mask-like faces. They appear to conceal their true nature.

In the series, Shaped by the Journey I use beverage cans that have endured hardship (e.g. being squashed by cars). I animate their beat-up discarded forms with characters that reveal multiple emotions. With tender irony and humor, my goal is to communicate a sense of containment and intimacy with these objects.

Clouds in the House, mixed media on canvas, 2017

OPP: The large paintings seem more about place and artifact than about the figure or human emotion. I’m thinking about Stones of LightPuddlesWindows of Wonder (all 2011), as well as In the Distance (2013). Can you talk about these works?

NF: A lot of my work is about memory and history. Memory of places, journeys, time, music, foods, books and people. When I work in large formats, I employ layers over layer of water-based and organic materials. The juxtaposition of these layers of materials mirrors terrains that denote history and buried pasts that yields to new realities and way of interpretation. The works you mention remind me of travels in Mesoamerica and Mexico to pre-Columbian archeological sites, such as Copan, Teotihuacan, Xochicalco. I am mesmerized by ancient Mesoamerican mythologies. When I travel to this region I feel their powerful presence. 

Stones of Light, 2011. Mixed media on canvas. 24" × 30."

OPP: I love the terracotta sculptures that are conglomerations of animals and humans all mashed together. The rendering of the animals and faces is certainly reminicent of Mesoamerican art. When did you first start working in ceramics? What does this new avenue add to your work that wasn't there before?

NF: I started working in ceramics in 2007. I find the material flexible and it allows me to explore with different visual elements. It also connects me to memories of childhood. When I was a child, I played with clay with my cousins in my village. We created characters from our imagination. Those characters would form part of our game worlds. 

Terracotta

OPP: Is working in 3D changing the way you make drawings?

NF: One of the amazing things with clay is that it allows you to draw, to play with volume, to add and subtract, to play with different spaces. Working in 3D teaches me different alternatives to do drawings, using different tools, but it also connects me to pre-Hispanic people, to the animistic elements of their culture.

Greeting Silence, work in-situ by Z'otz* Collective at Two Rivers Gallery, Prince George B.C.

OPP: Tell us about Z’Otz Collective.

NF: Z’otz* Collective is group of artists formed in 2004 by Ilyana MartinezErik Jerezano and me. We all have Latin American backgrounds. I first met Ilyana in 1999 at Ontario College of Art and Design University, and I met Erik in 2001 in Toronto. We use to belong to other collectives but for the purpose of exhibiting together. We meet weekly to collaborate on multi-media works, which include drawing, painting, collage, sculpture and site-specific drawing installations. 

Z’otz* is characterized by a collaborative spirit and the playfulness of our subject matter. Our quirky and often outrageous images use humor to explore ideas of transition, displacement, containment and evolution. We use multiple media to create works that denote a variety of visual elements. We implement a system of rotation, where everyone works at the same time but on different pieces. Our drawings are reigned by an intuitive drive as we spontaneously respond to each other’s marks. This allows us to exchange ideas and to observe the transformation of the work. We are interested in chance as a starting point, to establish a link between our individual subconscious. We play a game of riddles and improvisation where the only rule is that there are no rules. We have always been enamoured by characters of fables and popular tales from our heritage, that have the possibility of becoming something else and transforming into another body. Our fascination with these beings is multilayered; we often reflect upon the wonder of these transitional states. Mutation and transformation are key subject. . . a line can be a road to a fantastic universe where a snake becomes a monkey and a box a vehicle to catch dreams. Our work connotes the dynamism of the natural world and a close spiritual link to animals associated with many Indigenous Mesoamerican cultures. 

To see more of Nahúm's work, please visit nahumflores.com.

Featured Artist Interviews are conducted by Chicago-based artist Stacia Yeapanis. When she’s not writing for OPP, Stacia explores the relationship between repetition, desire and impermanence in cross-stitch embroideries, remix video, collage and impermanent installations. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where received her MFA in 2006 Stacia was a 2011-2012 Artist-in-Residence at BOLT in Chicago. Her solo exhibitions include shows at Siena Heights University (Michigan 2013), Heaven Gallery (Chicago 2014), the Annex Gallery at Lillstreet Art Center (Chicago 2014), The Stolbun Collection (Chicago 2017) and Indianapolis Art Center (Indiana 2017). Her most recent installation Where Do We Go From Here? just closed at Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery (Palos Hills, Illinois). In conjunction with this improvised installation, Stacia invited eight OPP artists—Kathryn Trumbull Fimreite, Brent Fogt, Melinda Thorpe Gordon, Jaclyn Jacunski, Jenny Kendler, Meg Leary,  Geoffry Smalley and Erin Washington—to respond to the text "Where Do We Go From Here?" Each artist approached the question from a different angle, emphasizing that both the We and the Here are not the same for each of us. For Chicago Artist Coalition's annual benefit Work in Progress, Stacia will create a one-night installation that solicits the help of benefit attendees.