OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Jenn Smith

Untitled (Flashlight), 2017. Acrylic and oil on panel. 22" x 20"

JENN SMITH's paintings and drawings feature Adam and Eve, a very chill Jesus Christ and a silly serpentagainst a rural Midwest background. Corntractors and signs of worship also populate her oeuvre. Her style is simple, evocative of a child's Sunday school drawings. But her exploration of evangelical belief and her own upbringing as an evangelical Christian is anything but simplistic. Humor and sincerity are both present, proving that you can take something seriously without believing in it. Jenn earned her BS in Studio Art at Illinois State University and her MFA in Painting from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has exhibited at Carrie Secrist Gallery (Chicago), the Back Room at Kim’s Corner Food (Chicago) and Julius Caesar (Chicago). Her work was most recently on view in Winter Romance at Andrew Rafacz Gallery (Chicago). Jenn lives and works in Chicago.

OtherPeoplesPixels: What’s your relationship to Christianity?

Jenn Smith: I was raised evangelical Christian in the rural midwest. We attended the kind of church where people would spontaneously begin speaking in tongues or fall down in a trance-like state. They call it being “slain in the spirit.” We thought we were living in the end times and the Rapture would happen at any moment, so there was a lot of excitement and fear. I’m no longer a believer, but many of the ideas and images from that time in my life continue to fascinate me.

Book of Acts, 2017. Acrylic and oil on panel. 20" x 26"

OPP: Your painting style is silly, cartoonish, and evocative of a child’s drawings. Have you always painted this way? Or is it a style that is particularly suited to the content of your recent work?

JS: I learned how to draw and paint representationally as an undergraduate, but pretty soon after that I started making abstract paintings, drawings, and collages. I continued to make abstract works off and on for about ten years. Then, in grad school, I decided I needed to paint figuratively. It was a big jump. I was pretty sure I’d forgotten everything I learned as an undergrad, but I knew it was the only way I could wrestle with more personal content in my work. So, I started to paint figures, animals, cars, cornfields, angels and snakes from my imagination, very simplified and without too much fuss. I’m not very interested in realistic representations of things. I like diagrams, game boards and flat, matte shapes and symbols. I look at a lot of medieval paintings. I like how they’re so often flat with a confusing sense of space. A too-short arm, an awkward gesture, or foreshortening gone wrong keeps things interesting. 

OPP: More than just being visually interesting, it seems to suggest that the reality you think you know is a lie. . . which brings me to the recent snake drawings, like Soon and Very Soon (Snakes #16) and Soon and Very Soon (Snakes #3). How do your goofy snakes relate to Eden’s snake?

Soon and Very Soon (Snakes #7), 2017. Colored pencil on paper. 11" x 8.5"

JS: I found the inspiration for the snakes in a deck of Bible character memorization cards a friend gave me as a gift. The cartoon serpent was depicted on the Adam and Eve card, slithering in and out of oval-shaped holes in a flat green cartoon tree. The cards were meant to be straightforward educational materials, but I felt there was some level of (unintentional?) sexual innuendo. . . I mean, snakes going in and out of holes and so on. . . It was kind of funny, but it also hit on my interest in the complexities of what is hidden and what is visible in a painting or drawing. My snake drawing series has allowed me to explore these ideas within a very limited framework, in almost a diagrammatic way, using a set of symbols including snakes, boxes, holes, lines, dotted lines. 

OPP: And what about your version of Jesus? Does he have a different backstory than what the bible taught?

JS: Well, he retains his biblical backstory—there’s no way to separate him from that, even if I wanted to. But it’s interesting to put him in other contexts to see what happens. There’s so much emphasis in evangelical culture that we should strive for a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus. So for believers, they don’t think about him as a historical figure or a far-away savior; they think of him as their best friend who they talk to every day. So I feel like I got know him pretty well when I was growing up. When I first started to include a Jesus-looking figure in the work I wasn’t exactly sure why I was doing it. But now I’m starting to wonder if the Jesus in the paintings is actually a version of me, in the same way the Jesus a Christian talks to every day is actually just a part of their own mind. 

Untitled (figure and Jesus), 2016. Oil on canvas. 22" x 20"

OPP: What does the word irreverent mean to you and do you consider your work to be irreverent?

JS: I think irreverence and a sense of humor have served me well in my life, but I’m still getting used to the fact that they’ve made their way into my work. As I said, I was making abstract paintings, which were pretty safe (also sort of boring) before grad school. I know that people find my recent work irreverent, and I think it probably is. But I also try to make it complex and layered and to allow a lot of space for the unknown.

OPP: Tell us about the Demons. They are the most abstract works. I interpret the titles as referring to dates, so I imagine that these works represent some kind of event or “dangerous influence.

JS: That’s a good guess! I usually don’t say much about the demon paintings because I think part of what makes them interesting is their ambiguity.

Demon '87, 2016. Acrylic and oil on canvas. 22" x 20"

OPP: You’ve been out of grad school for a little over a year. I remember my own first year out as particularly difficult. How’s it been? Has anything changed in your practice?

JS: It has been a real rollercoaster, but I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to continue making my work and have had opportunities to show it. I draw a lot more now, as a way to develop ideas and plan paintings, but also as an end in itself. I have intensified my practice of collecting Christian ephemera, which I share on Instagram. Painting is still the center of my practice and I don’t think that will change. I’m still excited about it every day.

OPP: What are you excited about in the studio right now?

JS: I’m working on a series of paintings on the front sides of wooden boxes about the size and shape of cereal boxes. They are hollow inside and have coin slots on top. They resemble the collection boxes we used to have on the walls of our church. I’m interested in the idea of having these paintings/boxes on a gallery wall where anyone can drop a coin or a folded-up note or anything else into the slot, and whatever is dropped inside becomes a permanent part of the piece forever. 


To see more of Jenn's work, please visit thejennsmith.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). In March 2018, her solo installation Where Do We Go From Here? will open at Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery (Palos Hills, Illinois). In conjunction, the atrium will exhibit two-dimensional artwork by artists who were invited by Stacia to make new work also titled  Where Do We Go From Here?

No-Fee Residencies, but you'll have to pay to get there

Here at OPP, we know that you'd rather spend your time in the studio, not researching ways to get more time in the studio. So we're kicking off a series of posts to get you started. Over the next six months, we'll highlight a variety of residencies, organizing them by type, including studio-only, fully-funded, solitary retreats and media-specific residencies. Keep in mind, this list is by no means exhaustive. It's really just the tip of the iceberg.


Sadly, some of the current deadlines for these fully-funded residencies have passed. But they are in such high demand, that it's a good idea not to rush the application. Do your research now and start planning to apply next year.

Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts — Nebraska City, Nebraska

Deadline: March 1 and September 1
Application Fee: $35
Length: 2-8 weeks
Stipend: $100 a week
Food: none, but apartments have kitchens

The Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts offers approximately 70 juried residencies per year to visual artists, writers, composers, and interdisciplinary artists from across the country and around the world. Nebraska artists and those transitioning from graduate school receive special consideration by the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center.

KHN features living space for five residents in three apartments. Two large double-occupancy apartments feature private bedrooms with en suite baths, and spacious shared kitchen, living, and dining rooms. Composers stay in the garden-level efficiency apartment, located under the composition studio.

All apartments are furnished with basic necessities such as dishes, pots and pans, and kitchen appliances, and a basic spice pantry. Bedroom and bath linens are provided. Each apartment has private control for heating or air conditioning. Onsite laundry facilities are available for residents. The Center maintains two bicycles for residents' use.

Visual artists work in one of three studios, two of which are approximately 425 square feet and one that is 258 square feet, outfitted with work tables, running water and storage shelves. Hand tools, a table saw, a hand saw and painting easels are available. The studios feature full-spectrum LED track lighting with moveable fixtures, as well as overhead daylight fluorescent fixtures. The two larger studios have garage doors which may be opened to face the alley.*

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Haystack Mountain School of Craft Open Studio Residency — Deer Isle, Maine

Deadline: March 1st
Application Fee: $50
Length: 2 weeks (May 27 - June 8)
Stipend: none
Food: included

Haystack’s Open Studio Residency fosters a dynamic exchange of ideas among peers and provides two weeks of studio time and an opportunity to work in a supportive community of makers. The program accommodates approximately 50 participants—from the craft field and other creative disciplines—who have uninterrupted time to work in six shared studios (ceramics, fiber, graphics, iron, jewelry, and wood) to develop ideas and experiment in various media. Participants can choose to work in one particular studio or move among them depending on the nature of their work. All of the studios are staffed by technicians who can assist with projects. Please note that technicians will not be leading workshops. If you are interested in learning specific skills, you may want to apply to one of our sessions. Housing will be assigned at random from among the various accommodation options available at the school. If you have particular physical needs, please note these on your application so that we can best accommodate you.*

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Yaddo — Saratoga Springs, New York

Deadline: January 1 and August 1
Application Fee: $30
Length: 2-8 weeks
Funding: accepted applicants may apply for financial aid to help with travel and materials
Food: Breakfast and dinner are taken communally, while lunch is packed for each artist to carry away.

Artists who qualify for Yaddo residencies are working at the professional level in their fields. An abiding principle at Yaddo is that applications for residency are judged on the quality of the artist’s work and professional promise. Yaddo accepts approximately 200 artists each year in the artistic disciplines represented at Yaddo: Literature, Visual Art, Music Composition, Performance, and Film & Video. Each artist has a private bedroom in one of several buildings on the estate. Linens are provided, and laundry facilities are available.  Although the kitchen cannot offer meals for special diets, vegetarian alternatives are provided. Since Yaddo is a working community, it offers no formal social activities. There are winding roads and paths through the woods. There is a swimming pool, a pool table, a ping-pong table, and a supply of bicycles to be shared by guests.*

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Millay Colony Residency — Austerlitz, New York

Deadline: March 1 for August-November and October 1 for April-July of the following year.
Application Fee: $35 fee or $50 for the Extended Deadline
Length: 2-4 weeks
Food: Our chef cooks healthy delicious dinners and also provides food for residents to cook their own day-time meals. We are happy to respond to food allergies as well as vegetarian, vegan and other diets. We have a barbecue for outdoor grilling and get-togethers.

The Millay Colony is an artists residency program in Upstate New York offering one-month and two-week retreats to six visual artists, writers and composers each month between April and November. We also offer a select number of group residencies for collaborating artists and virtual residencies for those who can’t spend prolonged time away from home. We welcome artists of all ages, from all cultures and communities, and in all stages of their career. Each residency includes a private bedroom and studio as well as ample time to work in a gorgeous atmosphere. We do not emphasize events or production goals. We believe we can offer artists nothing more precious than the chance to work, and we provide everything an artist needs to organize her time for maximum productivity.*

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The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation Residency — Bethany , Connecticut

Deadline: January 1
Application Fee: $40
Length: 2 months
Food: none

The Foundation maintains two residential studios for visiting artists who exemplify the seriousness of purpose that characterized both Anni and Josef Albers. Residencies are designed to provide time, space, and solitude, with the benefit of access to the Foundation's archives and library.

Each studio is in an independent building equipped with a 400 sq/ft workspace with 16-ft ceilings, a kitchen, bath, and bedroom. There is no stipend. The residency is designed to provide time, space, and solitude, with the benefit of access to the Foundation’s archives and library. We will work with accepted artists to find a time that works both with our schedule and theirs. Artists working in any discipline are welcome to apply. No aesthetic connection to the Alberses' art is necessary.*

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I-Park — East Haddam, Connecticut

Deadline: January 22
Application Fee: $35
Length: 4 weeks
Food: Chef-prepared dinners 4 nights per week. Cooking/kitchen facilities are also available for residents.
Travel: A limited number of $500 international travel grants will be available in 2018.

A quiet, retreat-type environment conducive to the creative process. I-Park is set in a rich, expansive nature preserve with ponds, fields, teaming wetlands, miles of stone walls and a pristine river running through it. Other fun features include: bonfires by the pond, an outdoor shower (in addition to the real ones), an aerial drone and a floating living room. The 6-7 artists who populate each session arrive together as a group, share the time and space together and, at the end, leave as a group. The program is open to those working in the following creative disciplines: visual arts, creative writing, music composition/sound art, architecture/landscape design and moving image. Self-directed residencies will be offered from April 25 through December 10, 2018. International applicants are welcome.

I-Park provides comfortable, private living quarters in a remodeled 1850’s era farmhouse, a private studio space and a food/meals program. In addition to attentive staff support, shared workshop space and a stimulating natural environment - a wide array of tools, equipment and materials are available upon request. Two new, large visual arts studios were added in 2017.*

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Saltonstall Foundation — Ithaca, New York

Deadline: January 2, 2019
Application Fee: none
Length: 2-4 weeks
Stipend: $250 or $500 (based on a 2- or 4-week session)
Food: A delicious communal vegetarian supper is served Monday – Friday, and the kitchen is kept stocked with groceries so that residents may make other meals for themselves.

Each residency session includes the same combination of five artists and writers: 1 poet, 1 fiction or creative nonfiction writer, 1 photographer or filmmaker, and 2 visual artists. Each group of five arrives and leaves together. These residencies are designed for individual artists and writers; we cannot accommodate collaborations or partners working together.

In an effort to include and serve artists and writers who cannot participate in a month-long residency, we offer two-week sessions in addition to three (3) month-long sessions, as we have since 2014.* 

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Marble House Project — Dorset, Vermont

Deadline: December 31, March 31
Application Fee: $30
Length: 3 weeks
Stipend: none
Food: The organization provides a welcome and goodbye dinner. Residents pair up during the week and cook for each other. There is a large onsite organic garden which residents freely use.

Marble House Project is a multi-disciplinary artist residency program that fosters collaboration & the exchange of ideas by providing an environment for artists across disciplines to live and work side by side. Our residency program is uniquely curated to bring together a diverse group of artists to facilitate exchange of different expertise, histories, techniques and perspectives.  With a focus on conservation of natural resources, integration of small-scale organic food production and the arts, residents sustain their growth by cultivating and participating in the surrounding grounds, working on their artistic vision and forging partnerships within the community. Marble House Project is founded on the belief that the act of creating, whether in the studio or in nature, is how human potential expands and community thrives.

Applications are accepted in all creative fields. This includes but is not limited to visual arts, writing, choreography, music composition, performance and the culinary arts. Each session has eight to ten artists, creating small, dynamic interactive groups.*

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Virginia Center for the Creative Arts — Amherst, Virginia

Deadline: January 15, May 15, September 15
Application Fee: $40
Residency Fee: Artists are accepted without consideration for their financial situation. We ask Fellows to contribute according to their ability. The actual cost to us of a residency is $180 per day.
Length: 2-8 weeks
Stipend: Numerous fellowships available.
Food: All/most meals are provided by organization. There is a vegetarian option at every meal. There are four small kitchens where residents may keep small quantities of food and do minimal cooking.

Typically, our artists find they accomplish far more at VCCA than they are able to in at their home studios. There is plenty of time for solitary work, but what so many of our Fellows find so valuable is the community of 24 other highly accomplished artists in residence at the same time with fresh insights, new ideas and stimulating conversation. All of this happens far from the distractions and disruptions of everyday life in quiet, spacious, light-filled studios. The commute is not bad either: a short walk from the Fellows' Residence though the beautiful grounds and up a gravel path to the Studio Barn. On the return trip, the august Blue Ridge Mountains provide the backdrop.

VCCA exists to support the creative work of the world's best artists. Residential fellowships at Mt. San Angelo in Virginia form the foundation of our program. Many of our special programs directly support that core mission; other programs complement it by offering unique opportunities to our Fellows. Regional initiatives have been established in partnership with foundations and organizations that understand the benefit of supporting the work of artists from their area.

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IN TWO WEEKS: Fully-funded Residencies that include stipends!

*Italicized text pulled from residency websites or other promotional materials.


OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Lauren Carter

The One with the Rainbow, 2016. Ceramic rainbow, broken mug, peach pit, Shrinky-dinks, beads, toothpicks, foam tubing, hydrocal, expandable foam, acrylic paint, silicone, epoxy clay, glitter, pigment, steel rod. 26” x 16” x 14”

LAUREN CARTER transforms found objects and personal possessions into kitschy and profound assemblage sculptures. These memorials to sentimentality are both serious and silly. Her effort to preserve and honor discarded, once-loved objects shows up in the marks left by her hand in the hydrocal, silicone, expandable foam and epoxy claycast plaster that holds these works together. Lauren earned her BFA from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and her MFA with Distinction from the University of New Mexico. She has exhibited at Non-Fiction Gallery (Savannah, Georgia), Chicago Art Department, Hyde Park Art Center (Chicago) and Chicago Artists Coalition. She was a 2013-14 HATCH Projects Residentand a 2017 Center Program ArtistSurface vs. Sap, a two-person exhibition with Nico Gardner, opens March 31st at Comfort Station in Chicago. Lauren is a teaching artist at Marwen in Chicago, where she lives.

OtherPeoplesPixels: Your most recent body of work, Offerings or Clusterfucks, seems to be more about material culture and its detritus than earlier bodies of work like Flux (2015) and Pre/proscribed (2012), which are more bodily and visceral. What changed?

Lauren Carter: A lot, actually. Pre/proscribed is a body of work from grad school that was mostly introspective. I was examining a subconscious desire to preserve a notion of myself while unpacking ideas of othering, unmaking, loss, vulnerability, and nostalgia. My mother has a chronic illness that was directly influencing my work and research at this particular time in my life. I spent a lot of time thinking about pain and identity, and the work was really personal and kind of tough to talk about. I was also spending a lot of money making these things that were process oriented and took a lot of time to complete. So when I moved to Chicago immediately after finishing my master’s program, I figured it was a good opportunity to change my practice a bit, and make objects that are more financially and emotionally sustainable for me.

Effigies, 2015. Beeswax, pigment, hair, satin, wood. Approximately 8'w x 11'h

OPP: Was Flux the transition?

LC: Yes. I was looking for a way to continue to communicate the corporeal experience, but by utilizing symbols I found outside of my personal realm and the body. For example, I think deflated balloons found tied to mailboxes and fence posts are super loaded metaphors for loss and nostalgia. They are a kind of memorial for whatever celebratory event has passed. They’re incredibly sweet and sad things to me. It’s most likely that the person who put them up just forgot to take them down after the party, but I tend to assign sentimental meaning to just about anything. So the installation Effigies is a funeral or sorts for what those balloons signify. 

From there I started looking at flower bouquets and roadside memorials, which leads to this new work. I’ve continued to explore vulnerability and nostalgia, but now through personal items and found objects that embody ambiguous narratives of commemoration.

The One on Astro-turf, 2016. Ceramic seashell, broken ceramic lady, amethysts ribbon, beads, plastic flowers, pantyhose, broken glass flower, metal brooch, old earrings, ceramic swan, parts of a stuffed animal, picture   frame, glitter paper, a cut up old exhibition card, acrylic paint, expandable foam, marbled shelf paper, hydrocal, epoxy clay, expandable foam, wreath stand, Astro Turf. 30" x 24" x 20"

OPP: What role does kitsch play in this newer work?

LC: Formally, I use kitsch as a medium, just like the other materials I use in my work.  But I’ve been a collector of kitschy things since I was a kid, which I’m sure is something I share with many people. It started with those stupid Precious Moments figurines that I’d receive every birthday from a member in my family. Then it was porcelain dolls and unicorns. Then Treasure Trolls. . .  and the list goes on. Keeping a gift from someone is a way to preserve a memory of a person or of a specific time. And I think that we end up collecting things because objects become symbolic. No matter how tacky or worthless they may be, sometimes they’re just too precious to throw away. Because the things we collect and keep carry a lot of weight, I think of the objects I use in my work as signifiers for a universal language of sentimentality that anyone can draw from or relate to.

OPP: I imagine you shop at thrift stores. Is that true? What’s your collection process like for the found objects?

LC: Yes, very true! I have a slight obsession with obtaining other people’s discarded possessions. I’m always drawn to objects that spark my own memories or remind me of someone from my past, but I have a couple rules that I’ve made for myself when gathering materials. I’ll choose an object that has a nice form, color, or texture; but it must be mass produced, and either be broken in some way, or have some kind of obvious history attached to it. If it doesn’t prompt me to ponder who owned it and how it ended up where it is, I put it back on the shelf.

The One with all the Pearls (If You Need It), 2018. Peach had cream container, ceramic jesus, fake roses, jewelry display, tape, pearls, expandable foam, epoxy clay, silicone, acrylic paint, plastic wrap, found table. 36” x 12” x 16”

OPP: Can you talk about your repeated use of furniture as pedestals?

LC: I think of collecting as a domestic ritual of the act of remembering. Using found furniture instead of traditional pedestals reiterates that idea. The cabinet or table that supports a sculpture has its own history and is a necessary component to the work. Also, finding a piece of furniture that’s perfect for a specific sculpture is way more fun than building pedestals.

I Sincerely Appreciate the Gesture, 2017. Paper pulp from greeting cards I received from loved ones over the years, found frame, gold gilding wax. 53" x 28" x 9"

OPP: I deeply LOVE I Sincerely Appreciate the Gesture (2017), which is made from all the greeting cards you’ve received from loved ones over the years. I’m interested in the excess of it, the weight of it, the desire to both honor the gesture and to get rid of the cards. Will you talk about how you conceived of this piece?

LC: Oh thank you! You definitely described exactly what I was trying to achieve with this piece. I think a lot about honoring the vulnerability in the act of giving. I think we are just as vulnerable when we give as we are when we grieve, it just looks much different. Maybe that’s another reason it’s so hard to purge our homes of the things we don’t want, but feel obligated to keep because they were given to us with love. Greeting cards are just that. They are so cliché, but yet filled with so much thought and sentiment and history. And they’re a tricky thing for me because, in theory, they don’t take up much space. Unless you never throw them out and you end up with this burden of lugging around a box containing every card anyone has sent you in the last decade, and that box just keeps getting bigger and heavier. Which is exactly what was happening. I’ve lived in four states over the last ten years, and I’ve taken some of these cards everywhere with me.

OPP: What was the process like?

LC: I took the box to my studio, sat on the floor, read each one and ripped it up, and of course cried the whole time. I found this process pretty cathartic, and it’s probably the most important part of this piece for me. Because the content is literally in the material, I decided to create a self-portrait of sorts that honors the material made by my loved ones’ vulnerability, while simultaneously conveying the burden of sentimentality that I often feel. 

The One with the Little Owl, 2018. Ceramic owl, alligator foot, part of a stuffed animal, vase, rubber grapes, beads, rubber ball, fuzzy ball, old jewelry, expandable foam, epoxy clay, brass rod, Plastidip, acrylic paint. 13” x 11” x 6” 

OPP: You have an imminent two-person show with Nico Gardner. What can you tell us about it?

LC: Surface vs. Sap is our first collaboration together. Nico and I continuously shift between the personal and the general, the specific and ambiguous, creating new work in conversation with one another. With a primary focus on desire, ritual, identity, and the expression of human need, Surface vs. Sap addresses the power and persuasive nature of mundane, domestic objects. Our use of found or purchased items is a starting point to explore themes that ultimately result in a collaboration of both material culture and making. The exhibition features wall mounted and freestanding mixed media sculptures that engage the floor, ceiling and walls. Independently created, the works echo each other's voices through the nature of consumer objecthood, both domestic and commercial. Household artifacts lost in the hurricane of one of my arrangements is excavated and embodied into one of Nico’s new works. Simultaneously, an object in its prime depiction in one of Nico’s reliefs finds itself mirrored and absorbed into one of my clusterfucks. It should go without saying, but Nico's the Surface, and I'm the Sap.  We are incredibly excited about this opportunity to work together, where we are continually throwing wrenches into each other's practices. And we get a chance to do it again in the fall! We'll have a second, larger, exhibition with additional works at Heaven Gallery in Chicago.  

To see more of Lauren's work, please visit laurencarterart.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). In March 2018, her solo installation Where Do We Go From Here? will open at Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery (Palos Hills, Illinois). In conjunction, the atrium will exhibit two-dimensional artwork by artists who were invited by Stacia to make new work also titled  Where Do We Go From Here?

Studio-only Residencies across the Nation (a few have a live/work option)

Here at OPP, we know that you'd rather spend your time in the studio, not researching ways to get more time in the studio. So we're kicking off a series of posts to get you started. Over the next six months, we'll highlight a variety of residencies, organizing them by type, including studio-only, fully-funded, solitary retreats and media-specific residencies. Keep in mind, this list is by no means exhaustive. It's really just the tip of the iceberg. Please feel free to share links to other studio-only residencies in the comments.

Creative Alliance — Baltimore, Maryland

Deadline: Monday, February 27
Residency Fee: $675-$815/month
Application fee: $15
Length: 1 - 3 years
Stipend: none

This live/work residency accommodates eight resident artists or artist groups, one in each of the studios, for terms of one to three years. It is intended for emerging artists as well as mid-career artists whose goal is to reinvigorate their work in an intensive creative atmosphere. Artists are encouraged (but not required) to use the studios as their primary residence.*

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BOLT Residency — Chicago, Illinois

Deadline: March 15, 2018
Residency Fee: CAC is eliminating the fee-based model for BOLT Residency in an effort to reduce barriers to application and participation. A security deposit and nominal cost for insurance purposes will be required to confirm your participation.
Application fee: $15
Length: 1 year
Stipend: CAC offers a small stipend for production costs in preparation for the solo exhibition.

You must be a resident of Chicago to apply for this studio-only residence. BOLT Residency is a highly competitive, juried, one-year artist studio residency program offering emerging and established artists the opportunity to engage the Chicago arts community and its public in critical dialogue about contemporary art. Located at the Chicago Artists Coalition’s brand new 6,700-square-foot facility in the vibrant Kinzie Industrial Corridor, BOLT provides workspace, creative community, exhibition opportunities and professional development for Chicago-based, contemporary artists. Benefits include: One-on-one studio visits with prominent members of the greater arts community and a solo exhibition in a dedicated, 400-square-foot gallery space.*

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Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program — Brooklyn, New York

Deadline: February 15, 2018, 11:59PM
Application Fee: none
Residency Fee: none
Length: 1 year
Stipend: none

The Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program awards rent-free, non-living studio space to 17 visual artists for year-long residencies. Its mission is to provide working studio space and community for artists. Artists are selected annually based on merit from a competitive pool of applicants by a professional jury comprised of artists and members of the SWSP Artists Advisory Committee.*

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Lower Manhattan Cultural Council — New York, New York

Deadline: yearly, the last Thursday of January
Residency Fee: none
Application fee: none
Length: 9 months
Stipend: A one-time stipend of approximately $1,100 is provided, depending on available funds.

Emerging visual artists, performing artists, and writers working in all media and genres are eligible to apply to this nine-month studio residency program that focuses on creative practice development for emerging artists working across all disciplines, LMCC’s Workspace program offers space for experimentation and dialogue with peers and arts professionals, as well as career-advancement opportunities. Workspace encourages creative risk-taking, collaboration, learning and skill-sharing at a critical early stage of an artist’s career and serves between 15 and 20 individuals or collaborative groups annually.

Salon evenings are required weekly participant meetings on Monday nights that include one-on-one studio visits, professional development workshops, a guest artist lecture series, potluck dinners, and more. Open Studios are required events where the general public is invited to visit your studio and learn more about your process and work.*

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Flux Factory — Long Island City, New York

Deadline: Applications now closed. Please check back in March 2018
Application Fee: none
Residency Fee: $725 - $1000, depending on studio size
Length: 3, 6, 9 or 12 months, depending on availability
Stipend: none

Flux Factory provides a welcoming community of artists and arts administrators, as well as a number of useful facilities at our residents’ disposal. The building is equipped with a wood shop, silk screen studio, craft room, co-working office, expansive gallery space, and audio visual equipment. The gallery houses exhibitions, weekly events, and workshops, and residents are encouraged to participate in the development of our annual major exhibitions. Through Flux, Residents are also granted access to Materials for the Arts, New York City’s premier reuse center.

In addition to cultivating residents’ personal practices, the residency program schedules monthly studio visits with curators and offers its participants opportunities to exhibit artwork, shape Flux Factory’s diverse programming endeavors, contribute to the Flux Factory collaborative projects, and be immersed in the thrilling cultural landscape of New York City.

As a part of a community run center for artists, Flux Factory residents are asked to take part in the creation and maintenance of its facilities and programming. On Monday nights, all Flux Factory residents and administrators attend a weekly meeting (which also includes a gigantic dinner!) so that we may foster a sense of community and discuss the evolving needs of the program.

Residents are asked to put in volunteer hours toward space renovation and a weekly chore.  We are frequently renovating our building–a process that would be impossible without our dedicated network of volunteers.  A constantly changing physical and social environment, Flux is always a work-in-progress, and there are many opportunities to leave one’s mark.*

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Artspace Regional Emerging Artist Residency — Raleigh, North Carolina

Deadline: March 30, 2018  (for July 2018 –  January 2019); September 15, 2018  (for January –  June 2019)
Application Fee: $25
Residency Fee: none
Length: 6 months
Stipend: none

Every six months, Artspace selects two artists in their early professional careers to participate in the six-month residency. Artists must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents over 18 years of age and must currently reside in the Southeast (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia). Resident artists receive 24-hour access to a private rent-free studio. The Residency concludes with a one-month solo exhibition at Artspace.

During the Residency, artists benefit from opportunities for professional development and collaboration with peers. Residents actively contribute to Artspace’s artistic and educational programming by participating in First Friday, being available for studio visits and tours, and working in their studios during Artspace’s business hours. Residents are also required to give a presentation, artist talk and/or demonstration to the public to coincide with their residency or exhibition.

Artspace strives to be fully accessible to artists with disabilities. Artspace’s facilities are fully accessible and we encourage all artists to consider submitting for our residency opportunities.*

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Space + Time Artist Residency — Guttenberg, New Jersey

Deadline: Winter and Summer 2019 program open call begins June 2018.
Application Fee: none
Residency Fee: none
Length: 3 months
Stipend: $1,200.00

STAR provides artists with stipends to cover materials, travel and access to a professionally equipped workspace for the visual arts including printmaking and ceramics.  Artists work is supported with a group show at the end of the residency and three studio visits with arts professionals. Each artist will present a public lecture on their work or conduct a free public workshop towards the close of their three month residency.  Guttenberg Arts promotes each STAR fellow in print and on the web, through exhibitions and art fairs. 24/7 shared access to a 4,500 sq ft. professionally equipped workspace for the visual arts including printmaking, dark room and ceramics for three months.  Artists will also be given a one month final group show. Each artist is required to give a free and open to the public artist lecture or workshop towards the close of their three month residency. We highly recommend a site visit to our building. Artists are selected by a blind jury of arts professionals on the merits of their work.*

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Crosstown Arts — Memphis, Tennessee

Deadline: July 15, 2018
Application Fee: $10 (applicants may apply for an economic hardship waiver)
Residency Fee: none
Length: studio-only: up to 10-months; live/work: 20 days to three months
Stipend: Three Withers Residencies—for an individual artist of color working in any discipline who ambitiously addresses the intersection of race and social inequality in their work—are awarded each year and include a $1000 stipend for each artist.
Other perks: Residents receive a free membership to the on-site YMCA, a full-scale fitness facility with limited childcare, cardio equipment, weights, group exercise classes, and yoga. Residents who do not have health insurance may receive free health care coverage through Church Health, a non-profit organization which operates a walk-in clinic on-site.

The multidisciplinary artist residency program offers residencies for visiting and Memphis-based visual and performing artists working in any creative discipline as well as musicians, filmmakers, and writers in all genres. All residents are asked to participate in a limited number of public engagement activities while in Memphis such as an informal artist talk or public performance/project, open studio event, or exhibition.

Residents are provided with on-site access to Crosstown Arts’ shared art-making workspace with a range of analog and digital fabrication and production resources, including a woodshop, multiple CNC/laser cutters, a Mac-based computer lab, a large-format digital printing service, a silkscreen/print shop, a small recording studio, and individual editing bays for video/audio production.

Founded in 2010, Crosstown Arts (501c3) recently completed the renovation of Crosstown Concourse, a one-million-square-foot former Sears & Roebuck distribution warehouse. The Concourse building is now home to Crosstown Arts’ contemporary art center that includes the artist residency program, multiple galleries, large-scale exhibition/installation spaces, screening rooms, and a listening room dedicated to live music performance. Crosstown Arts also operates an after-school program, a community-organized exhibition/performance venue, a café, and bar. A 425-seat black box performing arts theater is currently under construction on-site and scheduled to open in the summer of 2018.

Crosstown Concourse is also home to a major health and wellness initiative, including a walk-in clinic for the uninsured and a fitness facility inside the building, both available to participants in Crosstown Arts’ residency program.*

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Recology — San Francisco, California

Deadline: Applications are accepted June 1 – September 1
Application Fee: $20
Residency Fee: none; artists also receive a stipend
Length: 4 months
Stipend: $1200 a month

The Artist in Residence (AIR) Program at Recology San Francisco is a unique art and education program that provides Bay Area artists with access to discarded materials, a stipend, and a large studio space at the Recology San Francisco Transfer Station. By supporting artists who work with recycled materials, Recology hopes to encourage people to conserve natural resources and promote new ways of thinking about art and the environment.

At this time, we accept applications from local, career-level, professional artists. Students currently enrolled at any university, college, or other educational institution will not be considered. We also do not accept applications from artists who reside a driving distance of more than one hour from San Francisco.

During their residencies, artists have scavenging privileges and 24-hour access to the company’s well-equipped art studio. Artists speak to elementary school classes and adult tour groups about the experience of working with recycled materials. At the conclusion of their residency, Recology hosts a two-day public exhibition and reception for the artists featuring the artwork made during their residency. When the residency ends, artists contribute artwork to the program’s permanent collection and these pieces continue to be shown in off-site exhibitions that promote recycling and reuse.*

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18th Street Arts Center — Santa Monica, California

Deadline: rolling, but acceptance depends on studio availability
Residency Fee: Price is based upon square footage. Rents are subsidized with prices at ranging between $1.00 and $2.00 square feet – which is well below market value for comparable studio space in the area. Most of our studios range from 400 to 1,000 square feet.
Application fee: none
Length: 1-2 years
Stipend: none

Local studio artist residencies are open to local artists who wish to rent either live/work or day studios at the center for terms of 1-2 years with a possibility for renewal. These studios are subsidized in part by 18th Street Arts Center at far below market rate in an effort to provide local artists with affordable rental properties within Santa Monica. The program is open to artists of all disciplines, as well as small, artist-run initiatives. Participants are selected through an application process on the basis of availability.

The Artistic Director reviews applications when they are received, and applicants are chosen by an outside selection committee of experts. However, until a studio space is open, the selection committee will not evaluate applications for consideration. Studios open up on average every 2 to 3 years. Potential candidates for the Local Studio Artist Residency are invited for an in-person interview with the selection committee and 18th Street Arts Center staff as a prerequisite to occupancy.*

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NEXT UP: No-Fee Residencies, but you'll have to pay to get there

*Italicized text pulled from residency websites or other promotional materials.


OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Shanti Grumbine

Permeable (Broken Clover), 2017. Cast FGR 95. 5 x 10 feet.

SHANTI GRUMBINE transforms everyday objects including broken castoffs found on the side of the road and the New York Times, which is both revered and thrown away daily. Through the slow, repetitive actions of cutting, gluing, screen-printing and casting, she leaves the impression of her hand to be the lens through which the viewer can reconsider systems of value and knowledge dissemination. Shanti earned her BFA in 2000 at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA in 2005 at Penn Design, University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia). She has attended numerous artist residencies, including those at the Saltonstall Foundation (Ithaca, New York), Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (Omaha, Nebraska) and Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, Vermont) with a full fellowship. Most recently she was a 2016-2017 RAIR Fellow in Roswell, New Mexico. In 2017, she presented two solo exhibitions: Zeroing at Smack Mellon (Brooklyn) and pilgrim, approaching wordlessness at Roswell Museum and Art Center in New Mexico. Her work will be included in Summer Reading, an upcoming group show at The Woskob Family Gallery at Penn State. Shanti lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

OtherPeoplesPixels: You’ve worked with The New York Times as material for years. Where did you start and how has the work changed over the years?

Shanti Grumbine: I started using the New York Times newspaper as source material in 2011. In 2009, I was diagnosed with late stage neurological Lyme Disease and I spent much of the following two years in bed, isolated and not capable of continuing the sculpture practice I’d finally found my footing in. My world slowed down, and due to cognitive difficulties, so did my reading. I wasn’t able to hold onto information, my word recall was impaired, and my focus was shot. My experience of reading had shifted into something so slow and non-linear that it no longer resembled reading. I wondered how to recreate this experience visually. At the same time I was really trying to get out of my own head and connect with the world at large. Newspapers create a simplified/organized microcosm of the world. Computer screens hurt my eyes, so I had to stick with reading the paper version. I wondered what it would be like if each word disappeared after being read. Would I, the reader, hold onto the words more dearly out of desperation? Would my comprehension increase? Would the authors approach to narrative or information sharing shift? Would language become more meaningful? At first I wanted to create a stop motion animation of a newspaper article disappearing word by word. But the pain I dealt with in my joints made the action of erasure difficult. So I started to excise each line with an X-Acto knife. Because what we read inevitably affects what we see, I started to cut away at the images as well. What started as a personal gesture grew into a much larger exploration of censorship, marketing and the historical precedents for western journalism. 

Surplus, 2017. De-acidified New York Times newspaper, matte medium, UV spray coat, newspaper stick, spray paint.

OPP: Transformation is important in your work. And there are many different kinds of transformation—redaction of text, material and scale shifts, recreating two-dimensional images as three-dimensional objects. Is transformation content or process? 

SG: I think it’s both, a process that leads to content. I believe strongly in the way that the body can think—I discover the world around me with my hands. My mind is curious, and my hands investigate. It’s no different from when I was a kid taking things apart to see what they were made of. So to redact text is also a way of trying to understand how the page functions. Through that type of removal, the margins become more visible and so does the structure of the page. This redaction of the newspaper page led me to a project called Score, where I translated redacted newspaper pages into a musical score. When I redacted the individual lines of text, the words and shapes of the pull quotes became more prevalent. When I screen-printed the redacted page – I saw the pull quotes as medieval square notes asking to be translated into a melody. By turning the pages into a score and performing them, I was able to experience the flow of information more clearly from when a story breaks to when it disappears from the public eye. I could hear how journalism functioned. This type of transformation is a very slow, very elemental way of knowing that isn’t appreciated in today’s digital, fast paced information age. By allowing for slow repetitive processes, I tapped into the systems of western information dissemination that preceded journalism including illuminated holy books and oral traditions of information dissemination such as Gregorian chant. 

In my newer project, I focus on the act of walking and the collection and recreation of broken things. When I am drawn to a random object on the side of the road, I have a choice. The moment of finding can remain my own personal discovery, a fleeting momentary but unconscious encounter, or through its recreation and enlargement, it can become something permanent, and more monumentally visible. Through the transformative act of recreation, I commit to a bent piece of metal, privileging the margins of culture and the throw away. 

Melt, 2015. screen print. 22 x 30 inches.

OPP: In Zeroing (2017), your solo show at Smack Mellon, what’s the relationship between the fashion accessories rendered in print and sculpture—watches, jewelry and shoes—and the news images that point to serious problems in our world—guns, melting glaciers and refugees seeking asylum

SG: In Zeroing, I wanted to focus on the ways we establish and maintain value through advertising and how those techniques affect our ability to seek, communicate and understand “truth.” I’m interested in the black and white advertisements for luxury items that congregate in the margins of news journals providing a peripheral narrative. Even in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Mrs. Maisel, an upper class 1960s house-wife turned comedienne has the epiphany that the shoe ads are strategically placed to distract women from the content of the articles. The New York Times is a truth seeking institution and it’s also a commercial product, funded by advertisers and aimed toward a specific class, which is made more obvious by its advertisements. The pieces of jewelry, watches and vases are intended to be passed down from generation to generation, reinforcing the relationship between profit, media and legacy. 

Throughout the show I created relationships between the news images and the luxury items in the advertisements. For instance, in front of a screen print of a melting iceberg in Antarctica, I placed a Baccarat crystal vase as if to ask, “Which crystalline structure will last longer?” And I paired a Chanel pump with an image of women and children escaping from Syria in Turkey, pointing out the blatant irony of functionality as well as gesturing toward the mythic quality of alienation and longing in Dorothy’s ruby slippers and Cinderella’s glass slippers. I was interested in desire in general, how it functions and what types of insidious forces shape that personal landscape of longing. I wanted to understand these luxury items at a more formal level. By enlarging, inverting the values and screen-printing them to look like X-Rays or ghosts, I was able to uncouple them from branding. By recreating them by hand as white objects and presenting them in a non-profit gallery space, I shifted their materiality, context and value. 

Asemic Prayer #2, 2015. New York Time plastic delivery wrapping

OPP: You call Brooklyn home, but you spent 2017 in Roswell, New Mexico as a RAIR Fellow. What was surprising, difficult or thrilling about New Mexico? How did the environment affect your work?

SG: I’ve loved New Mexico since I first went hiking and camping there in my 20s. I love the vast, dry expanse of high plains and desert that surrounds Roswell. When the land is endless and quiet, your mind attunes to that. Roswell is equidistant from the Southern parts like Carlsbad and White Sands and northern towns like Santa Fe, Taos, Abiquiu and Ojo Caliente, so I got to explore many different aspects of the New Mexican landscape and culture. But mainly I was in Roswell, working, reading, writing and learning my own internal rhythms. In Roswell, there was time for everything. Time for stretches of disciplined studio time, time for feeling totally lost, time to be supported by friends, time to start over and lots of time to see things through. 

Since I was diagnosed with Lyme, my main source of exercise, well-being and pain management has been walking. Every residency I do, I establish my 2-3 mile daily walk. It’s my top priority, and everything else—food, studio, socializing—organizes itself around that. In Roswell, I started to think and read more about pilgrimage and the history of walking. Though I spent my first four months focusing on Zeroing and some other group shows in New York, my next project was forming itself in my daily walks and reflexive collection of detritus from the side of the road. That winter, I found out about an annual holy pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayo, a small adobe Church in Chimayo, that occurs on Good Friday and was grateful to incorporate that experience into my research. Rebecca Solnit described pilgrimage in her book Wanderlust as a “liminal state – a state of being between one’s past and future identities and thus outside the established order, in a state of possibility.” Despite moments of hopelessness, this is often how I felt when I first got sick, and it is also how I felt in Roswell. Witnessing that pilgrimage affected the content and format of my work for the rest of the residency.  

Liminal, 2017. Gel pen on black paper. 20 x 28 inches.

OPP: Tell us about your most recent solo show at the Roswell Museum and Art Center, pilgrim approaching wordlessness (2017).

SG: pilgrim, approaching wordlessness was comprised of two distinct but related parts dealing with aspects of liminality. One part consisted of drawings and wall sculptures based on the ubiquitous and overlooked decorative architectural features such as breeze blocks that can be found in almost any rural or urban community regardless of class. With Trump commissioning border wall prototypes, I couldn’t help but start thinking about borders and boundaries, who and what we let in, how and why and who gets to decide. I started thinking about permeability and rigidity, the power of empire and the incredible risks people take to create sanctuaries. And the visible role that architecture plays in creating these various value systems. These layered thoughts are bound up in my material explorations of breeze block patterns, an affordable and aesthetically pleasing decorative concrete block, originally designed to keep out the sun and let in the breeze. The other part of the show consisted of drawings and sculptures based on the broken, rusted things I found on the side of the road. A collection turned collective as friends and neighbors began dropping off bits and pieces of broken things found from their own walks.

C, 2017. Foam core, fiberglass veil, FGR 95, taxidermy clay, iron B metal coating, patina, found object.

OPP: In what way are those objects “souvenirs [that] point forward toward something still becoming?” 

SG: While I was working toward this show, I re-read parts of Susan Stewart's book, On Longing where she talks about the souvenir. I was trying to understand what these broken rusted objects were to me, why I felt drawn to picking them up and why I wanted to trace them as drawings and remake them as larger sculptures. Souvenirs are a reminder of something. They are “by definition always incomplete” because they are a trace of the original event and are therefore inherently nostalgic. The objects that I find are similarly incomplete, and hold a trace of what they used to be. But they aren’t a part of a whole, the way a bit of hair or cloth reminds us of the person or dress. And they are not the replica of anything such as the Eiffel Tower, nor do they feel nostalgic, not even for the particular walk or place in which I found them or the person who gave them to me. In their rusted brokenness, there is the sense of something new, something caught in the act of becoming. They become signifiers of transition, idols of possibility. According to Bill Brown, an object becomes a thing when it breaks, no longer neatly fitting into a category of functionality. We only see the window when it becomes dirty. In my act of collection, I came to understand my own objectness and as a result my own transformation into thingness. When the body is sick or broken, it no longer disappears into its functionality. We are all at one time or another, a thing among things, a liminal vessel straddling where we were and what we will become. 

To see more of Shanti's work, please visit shantigrumbine.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). In March 2018, her solo installation Where Do We Go From Here? will open at Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery (Palos Hills, Illinois). In conjunction, the atrium will exhibit two-dimensional artwork by artists who were invited by Stacia to make new work also titled  Where Do We Go From Here?

Short-term Residencies that offer some financial aid

Here at OPP, we know that you'd rather spend your time in the studio, not researching ways to get more time in the studio. So we're kicking off a series of posts to get you started. Over the next six months, we'll highlight a variety of residencies, organizing them by type, including studio-only, fully-funded, solitary retreats and media-specific residencies. Keep in mind, this list is by no means exhaustive. It's really just the tip of the iceburg.

And speaking of tips. . . some residencies offer solitude while others offer a more social experience. To get a sense of the culture at residencies you are interested in, follow them on Instagram. Links provided below. 

ACRE — Steuben, Wisconsin 

Deadline: 11:59 PM CST, March 4, 2018
Application Fee: January 4-12: free; January 13-February 26: $35; February 27-March 4: $50
Length: 2 weeks, 3 sessions
Residency Fee: $1,200
Funding: 15 half-scholarships; numerous full scholarships available. click here for eligibility. 
Food: Breakfast is provided each morning in the lodge, available from 8-10am, continental style. Residents eat lunch and dinner communally in a large screened-in outdoor dining hall/kitchen. Prepared by a large team of chefs and assistants, each meal is made from locally-sourced meats, veggies, and dairy. Options for vegans and vegetarians are available upon request, and food is prepared specially for those with other dietary restrictions.

ACRE (Artists’ Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions) is an artist-run non-profit based in Chicago devoted to employing various systems of support for emerging artists and to creating a generative community of cultural producers. ACRE investigates and institutes models designed to help artists develop, present, and discuss their practices by providing forums for idea exchange, interdisciplinary collaboration, and experimental projects. Please note that studios are set up as shared work-spaces. Private work spaces are limited to your apartment. If you are seeking a solitary residency experience or require private accommodations, ACRE may not be the right program for you.

Most residents stay in the sprawling Steuben Lodge, which houses around 40 people and contains a large central area that includes a library with limited wireless internet, breakfast area, computers, printers and scanners for everyone’s use, and more.* 
 

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Vermont Studio Center — Johnson, Vermont

Deadline: February 15th, June 15th, and October 1st
Application Fee: 
none
Length: 
2-4 weeks
Residency Fee: 
$3,950 for 4 weeks or $2,050 for 2 weeks
Funding: 
Financial aid is available. Full Fellowships are available and change each deadline. To see what is available at the February 15th deadline. Check here 
Food: We serve 3 communal meals a day Monday-Saturday, and brunch and dinner on Sundays. Fresh fruit, hot and cold beverages, and breakfast cereal are available 24 hours a day.

Each month, VSC welcomes over 50 artists and writers from across the country around the world to our historic campus in northern Vermont. Residencies include: a private room in modest, shared housing, 24-hour access to a private studio space in one of our 6 medium-specific studio buildings, a 24-hour Meditation House reserved for group and individual meditation, yoga studio. 

VSC's residency format includes six distinguished Visiting Artists and Writers per month. Each Visitor offers a public slide talk or reading, and is available for a private studio visit/writing conference with residents working in their medium/genre. Visiting Writers also offer a craft talk for the writing residents.*

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The Ragdale Foundation — Lake Forest, Illinois

Deadline: 11:59 PM CST, March 4, 2018
Application Fee: 
January 4-12: Free;January 13-February 26: $35;February 27-March 4: $50
Length: 
18-25 days
Residency Fee: 
18-day residencies cost $630 and 25-day residencies cost $875
Funding: 
Financial aid is available on a very limited basis. Applicants may request to apply for financial aid upon acceptance of a residency. Some fellowships available by separate application.
Food: Dinner is provided five nights a week, Monday through Friday. Our chef generally prepares vegetarian meals with meat dishes on the side. The Barnhouse and Ragdale House kitchens are available 24 hours a day and is fully stocked for residents to prepare their own breakfasts and lunches. 

Ragdale annually hosts approximately 200 visual artists, writers, composers, and interdisciplinary artists at all stages of their careers for 18 or 25- day residencies, making it one of the largest interdisciplinary artist communities in the country. Ragdale offers a retreat setting where at any given time, a dozen creative individuals experience uninterrupted time for dedicated work, a supportive environment, family-style dinners, and dynamic artist exchanges within a backdrop of 50 acres of idyllic prairie.* 

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The Studios at Mass MOCA — North Adams, Massachussettes

Deadline: The next deadline for general applications will be in July 2018, for fall/winter sessions. 
Application Fee: 
none
Length: 
1-8 weeks
Fee: 
$650/week
Funding: 
Many participants receive need-based and merit-based financial aid.
For Massachusetts-based artists only: currently accepting applications for a “Financial Wellness” residency session (up to 4 weeks) from November 7, 2018 – December 4, 2018. This subsidized residency opportunity offers a deeply discounted fee and additional professional development programming. Deadline: April 13, 2018, 11:59pm EST. Click here to learn more and apply. 
Food: One communal meal per day, in the company of other artists-in-residence.

We offer great studio space and housing, one group meal per day, access to MASS MoCA‘s exhibitions and to Makers’ Mill (a printmaking and fiber arts makerspace located a short walk from the Studios), and one-on-one professional development coaching with the staff of our "Assets for Artists" program. Housing is across the street from the museum, in newly renovated apartments (private bedroom/queen bed + shared kitchen and bath). We offer optional one-on-one artist-focused financial and business coaching through the staff of MASS MoCA’s Assets for Artists program, helping artists and writers in all disciplines strengthen the business side of their artistic practice.* 

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Anderson Ranch — Snowmass Village, Colorado

Deadline: February 15th
Application Fee: 
$60
Length: 
10 weeks; Fall Term: October 10th – December 20th; Spring Term: February 6th – 17th April
Residency Fee: 
$1,500
Funding: 
Four of the 28 residencies are fully funded fellowships awarded by the jury panel. One fully funded residency fellowship is available for an African American artist, made possible by the generous support of an anonymous donor.
Food: Breakfast and 5 dinners per week are provided; vegetarian meals available.

Anderson Ranch’s Artists-in-Residence Program fosters creative, intellectual and professional growth for emerging and established visual artists. Residents have access to world-class facilities and 10 weeks of studio time, free from everyday pressures. Residents can pursue interdisciplinary projects among a community of working artists, and gain feedback from prominent Visiting Artists and Critics. The Ranch setting is specifically crafted to aid artists in the production of their work. The residency is designed to allow artists to take risks and pursue new projects and ideas. Resident artists will be provided housing, studio space and meals.  Residencies are offered in ceramics, new media, photography, furniture design, woodworking, painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture. Individual rooms in shared house, separate from studio.* 

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The Wassaic Residency Program — Wassaic, New York

Deadline: Applications for our SUMMER Residency Program open December 11th are due January 22nd. Applications for our WINTER Residency Program open May 15th and are due June 19th. 
Application Fee: $25 
Length: 1-6 months 
Fee: Winter: $600 per month, per resident plus $300 security deposit; summer: $900 per month + $200 security deposit 
Funding: Fellowships range from $100 – $400 and are awarded based on exclusively on need. We award 1 merit-based fellowships each season. The fellow receives a fully-funded residency for the month awarded. Unlike receiving financial assistance, the merit fellow is not expected to perform work in exchange. 
Food: no meals provided.

The Wassaic Residency Program cultivates and supports community for emerging and professional contemporary artists, writers and other creatives. Housed in historic, landmark buildings, the residency program offers nine artists each month the opportunity to live and work in the heart of a rural community. The Wassaic Residency seeks artists working in a diverse range of media who want to produce, explore, challenge, and expand on their current art making practices, while participating in a grass roots, community-based arts organization.

Residents may bring their dog. Dogs require an in-person interview and an additional monthly impact fee of $100 per month. You cannot bring your cat (too many allergies).*

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NEXT UP: Studio-only Residencies across the Nation (a few have a live/work option)

*Italicized text pulled from residency websites or other promotional materials.

OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Liz Tran

Lightspeed Five. Mixed Media on Panel. 24" x 24"

LIZ TRAN's paintings and installations hum with vibrant, synthetic color, hovering between abstraction and representation. The versatility of her visual language—replete with circles, paint drips and swooping, sagging lines—allows the forms themselves to constantly shift meaning. Explosions become flowers. Party streamers become tent tops. Wreathes and beaded necklaces become an expanding and contracting universe. Liz earned a BFA in  Painting and Print Art at Cornish College of the Arts (Seattle) in 2002. In 2017, her work was included in exhibitions at The Brain Project (Toronto) and Parlor Gallery(Asbury Park, New Jersey). Also in 2017, her solo show JaWbReAkEr was on view at ZINC contemporary in Seattle. She has been an Artist-in-Residence at Babayan Culture House (Ibrahimpasa, Turkey), Baer Art Center (Hofsos, Iceland), the Association of Icelandic Visual Artists (Reykjavik, Iceland) and Vermont Studio Center with a full fellowship from the Clowes Foundation. In March 2018, her work will be included in Elation Station at Russo Lee Gallery in Portland, and she is working on multiple installation projects across the country. Liz lives and works in Seattle.

OtherPeoplesPixels: A defining element of your work is its multi-coloredness. It’s not just colorful, but rather explosively colorful. What do you love about color? How do you think about color?

Liz Tran: I make paintings that, because of their vibrancy, are extremely difficult to ignore. I love the emotions evoked by color and how the injection of color can completely change the way a space is read, even more so in my installation work. Adding vibrant pattern to monochrome structures and landscapes forces the audience to pay attention to something that would otherwise go unnoticed. I wrote a statement for the Seattle Art Museum Gallery’s Color Excursion exhibition that accurately sums up my feelings on the subject.

“The use of color in my work is an unapologetic form of escapism from the long stretches of grey weather that continually blankets my Pacific Northwest home. Each year my palette of luminous, unnatural hues provides a defiant objection to winter’s approach. Pulsing fluorescent paints massage the naked eye with ultraviolet light, creating an energized glow impervious to dull environments. Maroon does not belong to me. Tubes of brown remain unopened. There is safety in muteness. My paintings speak to extroversion, experimentation and play. Through color, I aim to activate.”

Current. Mixed Media on Canvas. 48" x 60"

OPP: That injection of color into a bleak landscape is present in much of the work you've done during residencies, especially in Iceland, where you've done at least six. What is it about Iceland that kept you returning year after year? How did the environment affect the work you made there?

LT: What draws me to Iceland is the sense of solitude, of being at the edge of the world. The naked shapes of the volcanic landscape create a vastness that leaves space for the mind to wander. There are few trees or structures obstructing the view, which makes it difficult to discern distances. What appears to be a short walk can turn into hours. The hot pots, the steam, the sulfur, the 24 hours of daylight in the summer and the harsh, low angle of the sun in the winter are all things that I can’t experience back home. I could wax poetic about Iceland for hours but, ultimately, the country is very conducive to creativity.

Extreme Boulder Makeover. Completed while in residence at Samband íslenskra myndlistarmanna / Reykjavík

OPP: What is more important in your process: control or surrender?

LT: The process is a constant conversation between control and surrender, push and pull. Surrender is the preferred action (or rather, inaction), where “flow” and intuition lives. However, control must step in occasionally, before things get completely out of hand. It’s not one of my strengths, but without control my work would bleed into complete chaos, which it often does. With the multitude of media and layers I work with, it’s easy to overwork. Quite a few of my paintings are sacrificed to complete surrender and therefore make their way to the burn pile. 

Swell. Mixed Media on Panel. 24" x 30"

OPP: The same recurring forms read differently in different paintings. What looks like a planet in one piece is a bauble, ornament or balloon in another. Sagging lines look like party streamers in Last Call but they become tent tops or waves in Swell. To me, this points to the connection between human culture—in the form of decoration and celebration—and the cosmic. Thoughts?

LT: Forms repeat and are re-purposed naturally and intuitively. This is my visual language, developed over decades and just like any language, there is repetition.

Not only does the work refer to the human connection, it refers to interconnectedness. In some ways, I’m reaching for an accurate portrayal of that universal connection, which is completely impossible but keeps me challenged. Interconnectedness IS something to celebrate. We are all in this together. 

Big Bang One, 2014. Mixed Media on Panel. 36" x 36"

OPP: What keeps you painting circles in particular?

LT: Circles are the shape of infinity, the world, the moon, the feminine, wholeness, self and to some, God. It’s the shape that comes most naturally to me. I’ve never been drawn to hard edges, geometric forms or angles. Circles leave things up to interpretation. 

OPP: About a decade ago, trees, especially with gnarled, curvy branches were recurring images in your paintings. Can you talk about how that body of work shifted into what you are doing now? Was it a slow evolution or an abrupt change?

LT: Although I still love the tree series, it came to the point where I couldn’t push it any further. It was time to move on. I became much more interested in imagery that couldn’t be defined as a particular object. Stripping away the trunk and branches left me with the rich material that I am still exploring today. Taking away the “tree” gave me unlimited possibilities.

From Whence We Came. Mixed Media on Panel. 60" x 144"

OPP: My favorite piece on your website is From Whence We Came. Can you talk about that central void in the composition in relation to the title?

LT: That’s one of my favorites as well. Because of the large scale (60” x 144”), there was automatically a physicality in the making of the piece. The title refers to the place where we all originate, the womb. To a certain extent, I am creating my own womblike environment and celebrating it. 

To see more of Liz's work, please visit liztran.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). In March 2018, her solo installation Where Do We Go From Here? will open at Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery (Palos Hills, Illinois). In conjunction, the atrium will exhibit two-dimensional artwork by artists who were invited by Stacia to make new work also titled  Where Do We Go From Here?

What's the big deal about Artist Residencies?

Roswell Artist-in-Residence, Roswell, New Mexico

Artist Residencies are a big part of life as a contemporary artist. You'll see them on most artist CVs. They offer two of the three most important resources that artists say they need: time and space. (The last one is money, and some residencies even offer that.) Many—most?—working artists have at least one other job besides making their work. We figure out how to fit art-making into our busy lives in small bursts and we guard our studio days with territorial urgency. So a residency can bring much needed expanses of time empty of other obligations.

Here at OPP, we know that you'd rather spend your time in the studio, not researching ways to get more time in the studio. So we're kicking off a series of posts to get you started. Over the next six months, we'll highlight a variety of residencies, organizing them by type, including studio only, fully-funded, solitary retreats and media-specific residencies.

Keep in mind, this list is by no means exhaustive. It's really just the tip of the iceburg. So you need to develop your own methods for researching and applying to residencies. Here are a few tips:

1. Look at the CVs of artists you admire and who make work in the same vain you do, whether that is similar content or media. See where they have been in residence. Sometime you discover a lesser-known, but nonetheless exciting opportunity.

2. Get on the mailing lists of the residencies you are interested in to get reminders of upcoming deadlines and to see which artists are chosen.

3. Keep an active list of upcoming deadlines on your desktop along with a folder for each of your residency applications. Label these folders by year and residency name. Keeping all completed applications—even unsuccessful ones—in one accessible place can aid you when you apply to other residencies. You don't have to reinvent the wheel every time you apply. You can often repurpose language from previous applications.

4. Do continue to apply, even if you don't get in the first time. I've heard over and over again from artists at varying career levels that they often applied multiple times to prestigious residencies (and grants) before they were finally successful. Caveat: don't submit all the same images year after year. Panelists might remember your work and you want to show that you are continuing to make new work and evolve as an artist.

5. Excellent images make all the difference. In the age of iphone documentation, it's hard to justify paying an experienced photographer to document your work. But having sat on several juries, it is very clear that the quality of the images has THE BIGGEST impact on your success. I've seen mediocre work that was excellently photographed win out over superior work photographed in crappy lighting.

The Red Mill at Vermont Studio Center

In the upcoming posts, we'll be focusing on residencies in the United States (for no other reason than that we are based here.) But again, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Please visit these online resources, which are extensive databases of artist residencies across the world.

OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Bryan Schnelle

I Want to Believe X I Will Pour Out my Spirit, 2015. Hand-cut paper collage on wood. 36 x 24 inches.

Glossy printmedia tell us a lot about capitalism, consumerism and even religious fervor. BRYAN SCHNELLE cuts, collages and manipulates fashion magazines, gossip rags and posters in order to expose the emptiness of the promises of these dominant forces. He uses strategies of masking, selective erasure and juxtaposition—ordered and random—to create compositions that allow the biases of the viewer's brain to determine the meaningBryan has had solo exhibitions at Kana Manglapus Projects (2013) in Venice, California, Phone Booth Gallery (2009, 2011 and 2012) in Long Beach and the now defunct White Walls (2009) in San Francisco. His work has been featured on fecalface.com, on beautifuldecay.com and in Studio Visit Magazine. Bryan lives and works in Seattle, Washington.

OtherPeoplesPixels: You’ve worked with glossy magazines for many years, mostly fashion magazines. What was your relationship to magazines in general before you started using them in your art practice?

Bryan Schnelle: Well, as a child, magazines like Transworld Skateboarding and Thrasher were important and exciting. I remember my dad would take me with him when he would go grocery shopping every Friday evening and I would just hang out in the magazine aisle the whole time. This was before the internet, so that's how I got information about skateboarding and the world outside of my safe and boring little suburb. And they were just simply always around. I was always drawing as a child, and then in high school I started getting into realism and would draw images I tore out of common pop culture magazines or National Geographic or skate magazines.

How To Lose Yourself Completely (The September Issue), 2010-2013.

OPP: Please talk about erasure and masking in How to Lose Yourself Completely (The September Issue) (2010-2013) and other Works on Print Ads.

BS: The sharpie and white out on print ads stuff is something I arrived at fairly organically, over a period of time. I was thinking about common art supplies and their cost, and I just grew bored of drawing and painting in general. I liked the idea of "correction" implicit in the use of office supply mediums like white out. Using them on print ads from common magazines was a way of exploring notions of identity, normalcy and complacency. 

How To Lose Yourself Completely (The September Issue) was a response to the documentary film about the September 2007 issue of Vogue, but also to the insane amount of importance placed on the unimportant, meaningless and temporary in our society. It was sort of a visual cleanse, I guess. But also a bit of a meditative experience for me. It took four years to make, and I'm not a particularly patient type of person. So it was definitely a challenge for me, but as weird or corny as it sounds, I sort of feel like a stronger person, or like I gained something from going through that experience and sticking with it. It's definitely a piece I'm really proud of.

Fade Out, 2010. Permanent marker on paper and enamel on canvas. 76 x 72 inches.

OPP: In Sunday (2016) and Megachurch (2015), the psychedelic fractal imagery and recognizable movie posters mostly dominate the religious imagery—although Crown of Thorns X Spiral Mind Warp is an exception. Is this an accident of the process, a very intentional critique or a symptom of my own visual bias towards pop culture?

BS: That’s interesting. I would have to say it must be your own visual bias, because those works are all exactly 50 percent of one image and 50 percent of another image. When visual information is missing our eye tends to sort of try to fill in the blanks, so it would make sense that at first glance our eyes would kind of gravitate towards the more easily recognizable image, the one we have all seen a million times, possibly giving the illusion that that image is more dominant in the piece, but they are equal parts. 

Crown of Thorns X Spiral Mind Warp, 2016. Hand-cut paper collage on wood 36 x 24 inches.

OPP:Tell us more about the 50/50 works. How do you choose what two images go together? Is this more visual or conceptual?

BS: It's a little of both. Most of the 50/50 work I've made so far deals in some way with religion, so one image is some sort of religious imagery, and that's paired with an advertisement or some other kind of "pop culture" image, depending on which series you're looking at. I'm very picky and take my time figuring out which 2 images to combine. Of course the conceptual relationship comes first, then things like color and composition are considered afterwards. And I don't do any sort of computer generated mock-ups or anything, so there's still a fair amount of surprise involved. No matter how much you think you have it figured out in your head how it will look, it always ends up a little different. It's hard to predict, but I kind of like that. It keeps it exciting.

Untitled, 2014. Paper collage. 10 3/4 x 8 inches.

OPP:Your hand cut paper collages on wood evoke the blockiness of a plain weave structure. Have you considered literally weaving these images together? What is important/what do you like about the cut and paste method of mixing these images?

BS: I have considered weaving them, the squares would work with that, but if I want some of the pieces to use a different shape like a triangular grid then I'm back to the collage method. So it would have to be an entire series using just square grids. I like the idea, my only problem with it is that I'm aware of a couple of artists already using that weaving technique with photography, and I don't want my work to end up looking like anyone else's. That's important to me. However, I feel that the idea/concept should always dictate the medium and scale. So if I had an idea that I was really excited about and knew that it absolutely had to be woven, then I'm sure I would just go for it. 

Untitled Color Study (Pink), 2014. Hand-cut paper collage on wood. 20 x 20 inches.

OPP: The Color Studies (2014) seem to be a bit of an anomaly, despite using the exact same materials and processes as other bodies of work. They seem purely formal, while the fashion magazine work and collages using religious imagery have an implicit critique—although it is somewhat ambiguous—through juxtaposition. Agree or disagree?

BS: I can definitely see how they may look a bit out of place right now, but they're actually not an anomaly. They were the first step in the direction of the body of work I'm currently working on, and will probably make a lot more sense to visitors of my website once this new work is finished and on the site as well. It's an ongoing series/project/experiment that runs parallel with the 50/50 stuff. I have a lot of ideas and due to other responsibilities, I'm having kind of a hard time physically keeping up. So I kind of work in cycles, based on some sort of internal sense of urgency. I don't like to be doing the same thing all of the time. So once I've extended one arm in a certain direction, I'll go back and elaborate on or further push a parallel arm in another direction. I guess maybe it's a way of trying to give a sense of where I'm headed overall while also fulfilling my own need to keep things interesting/fun for myself.

Untitled works in progress, 2018

OPP: Well, you are certainly not the only artist pulled in a million directions! I relate to that. What can you tell us about the new project?

BS: I wanted to make some more work that was purely abstract, like the color studies, but a bit more involved, and limiting the palette to just black and white this time. No figure, nothing being depicted, they just are what they are. Some use squares, some use triangles, and some use rectangles in sort of a brick-like pattern. Some are all one solid color (either all black or all white), and some use both black and white. For the black and white pieces, I removed myself from the composition determining process by flipping a coin for each space. Heads meant it was going to be black, tails white. Additionally, I shuffled all of the pieces and glued them down in the order that I picked them. On the other hand, the single-color pieces are not random, I allowed myself to intervene in the picture building process a bit until they felt finished. So the works that at first glance may appear random are actually not, while the ones that may seem to have some direction in fact do not. I had become interested in Michael Shermer's idea of patternicity after reading his book The Believing Brain, and thought it might be funny to do kind of a literal visual interpretation. The result is these very simple and honest works that have sort of a digital quality to them, bringing to mind pixelation and QR codes. They exist somewhere in between a painting and an advertisement. 

To see more of Bryan's work, please visit bryanschnelle.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). In March 2018, her solo installation Where Do We Go From Here? will open at Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery (Palos Hills, Illinois). In conjunction, the atrium will exhibit two-dimensional artwork by artists who were invited by Stacia to make new work also titled  Where Do We Go From Here?

OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Christi Birchfield

How To Remain Human, 2015. Installation view. MOCA Cleveland.

CHRISTI BIRCHFIELD balances control and surrender by using various printmaking techniques and tools in unconventional ways. Whether she's running fresh flowers through an etching press or bleaching dyed canvas, her work points to the impermanence of nature and human mortality. Christi earned her BFA in Printmaking from The Cleveland Institute of Art and her MFA in Visual Art from Columbia University. She has been an Artist-in-Residence at Skowhegan, Vermont Studio Center and SWAP Residency at SPACES Gallery. Solo shows include Above the Fold, Below the Surface (2014) at Siena Heights University (Adrian, Michigan) and From the Inside Out (2014) at William Busta Gallery in Cleveland. In 2017, Christi won an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council and the Cleveland Arts Prize, Emerging Artist Category. Christi lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio. 

OtherPeoplesPixels: You work primarily in printmaking, including traditional techniques like lithograph and etching. But your toolkit of mark making is way more expansive. What other techniques do you use to make marks?

Christi Birchfield: Printmaking tends to be a starting point for my work. I have been immersed in the tradition of the medium for many years. I majored in printmaking in both undergrad and graduate school, and I’ve worked as a master printer at Zygote Press Inc. Somewhere along the line, it became interesting to not only use printmaking presses as a way to produce multiples but also as simply a method for creating marks. During graduate school, I began exploring monoprints, which do not originate from a reproducible matrix. The etching press began to function as a way to imbed materials (smash stuff) into paper. I started running bouquets of flowers and house plants through the press. The way the press would flatten while at the same time morph and stretch the plants became very interesting to me. I liked how the object that I was running though the press became an abstraction of itself. The single, directional push of the material held relationships to both the industrial and the digital world.  Additionally, the juices in the plant would squeeze out, staining the paper, resulting in a painting that I orchestrated but did not control. These chance operative techniques for making a mark challenged my previous approach to printmaking. Monoprinting is how I approach textile works as well. I use a sod roller to print bleach paste onto black canvas. 

Sagittal Plane, 2016. Bleach Paste on Canvas. Photo Credit: Jerry Birchfield.

OPP: Is the distinction between printmaking and drawing important to you as a maker?

CB: Yes, that distinction is important. For me, drawing is very much about a one-to-one relationship between the maker and the surface that is being marked. It’s also about intentional decision making and forethought. Printmaking can have the same attributes as drawing, but it is more about a distance between myself and the thing being created. I set up situations where I put materials into motion without fully controlling the shape, pattern or color those materials will make. It is a way to stay present in the process but also remain distant. My role hovers between the maker and the observer of my own work. I think about painters like Morris Louis or Helen Frankenthaler who developed approaches to stain painting where color was allowed to flow based on gravity and absorption and not based on how those artists moved the brush across the canvas. 


High Tide, 2014. Flowers and burning on paper. 39” x 27.5"

OPP: Does color in the flower works only come from the flowers themselves? Is this color fugitive? 

CB: My practice consists of various levels of control. Choosing how and when to apply color is one of the factors that I negotiate as I work. The color does come from the flower. When I first started working with the plants, it was important for me that the color only come from the flower with no additive pigment. It seemed conceptually necessary at the time that nothing contaminate what would naturally occur from the plant itself and the process I was administering. In more recent works, I’ve started exploring the application of watercolor.

Total Optimism, 2014. Flowers, graphite, ink, and enamel on paper. 78” x 60”

OPP: What role does symmetry play in your practice?

CB: Symmetry is a way to create a sense of order among marks that are otherwise chaotic. Symmetry has a very practical application for me. There was a time when I felt the work was just a gloopy-gloppy mess. It felt out of control. The symmetrical image was a way to create an automatic order while still staying true to the process and materials. The shapes immediately called to mind the human body and it’s interior. While the plant material references fluids that could perhaps come from the body, it only made sense that compositions also reference something bodily as well. 

Lord and Lady, 2014. Flowers and watercolor on paper. 31"x 28"

OPP: Pieces like SurgentBelvedere and Lord and Lady, all from 2014, at first appear to be symmetrical, but when I look closer, I realize that it isn’t pure symmetry. Is this simply a symptom of the process or an intentional part of the content?

CB: Yes, the symmetry is faulty. There is nothing exact about the process. The works are made by simply folding the paper in half to create a print on both sides simultaneously. I’ll often times shove flowers, inky plates, and some paint within a folded sheet of paper and crank it through the press. The result of how all these materials relate after the press has done it’s work is more interesting to me than whether or not both halves of the composition are identical. 

In fact, the slight differences between both sides of the print reveal a bit of the process that I rather enjoy. We as humans are thought of as more or less symmetrical. However, have you ever mirrored your own face in Photoshop to see what you would look like if you were actually symmetrical? The results are a bit unsettling and confirms that the differences between our two halves make us appear human and not as digital constructions. As my pieces are made by hand and very much about the process and materials, the slight variations that serve as the non-symmetrical indicators clue the viewer in on the fact that this work is a result of something outside of modern technology. 

Slab, 2015. Bleach Paste on Canvas. 65" x 20" x 8"

OPP: In recent work you’ve shifted away from the rectangle of paper and cut out the bleached marks in the works like Sagittal Plane (2016) and Reconfiguration (2015). These slumping sculptures read sometimes as hanging foliage and other times as collapsing skeletons. Can you talk about destruction in relation to the forms?

CB: Lately, I’ve been working a lot with textiles. The works are made by printing bleach onto canvas and then hand-cutting around the marks to produce complex shapes that have been cut out and through. Canvas is a common surface on which to create a painting, but I am very interested in the material of itself and its hefty qualities. 

I’ve always considered the posture different works of mine take on. Some pieces are tired, some casual, some doing backbends. The way the canvas sags and slumps seemed to suggest something very human. The works tend to mirror the scale of a person and the material of canvas is a versatile fiber that I can manipulate in various ways. 

There is a constant theme of time running through my practice. The pace of time and the fragility of the human existence underlie much of my work. My daughter is ten months old. In becoming a mom, I suddenly had a deeper connection to the generations of women that have come before me. My grandmother, my mom, myself and my daughter—we are all part of a continual line. Layering of fabric cut-outs, printed elements overlapping, collage pieces all serve as a way to see everything at once and also not quite be able to make sense of everything ever. I relate this to a constant sense of both temporality and permanence. Our bodies are material taking up space yet mortal, impermanent. The fabric cut outs look like skeletal fragments, like pelvises and ribcages, evoking the body and it’s transience. The first medical X-ray was of Wilhelm Rontgen’s wife’s hand. Her response—“I have seen my death”—suggests that seeing our inner selves, our material essence, confirms our own mortality.

To see more of Christi's work, please visit christibirchfield.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). In March 2018, her solo installation Where Do We Go From Here? will open at Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery (Palos Hills, Illinois). In conjunction, the atrium will exhibit two-dimensional artwork by artists who were invited by Stacia to make new work also titled  Where Do We Go From Here?