Why Residency?

Me in the studio at Better Farm.
By Joetta Maue

As those of you that read my blog know I recently returned from a 2 week artist residency up in the NY North Country at a sweet little place called Better Farm.  And as I was preparing to leave a few artist friends started to ask me about residencies and what they are and why I do them. So today’s topic is Why Residency?
artists at Vermont Studio School.
Actually the answers are endless.  I myself only recently came to doing residencies while I have friends that have done a ton of them and their are a few folks that are essentially residency “hoppers” having no permanent residence and just go from place to place.   A few of my friends started to do residencies right out of graduate school as they provide studio space, time, and community. For a number of my friends, both visual artists and writers, the community that they have found has been invaluable. For those of you that do not live in urban areas like NYC it is a wonderful way to start to meet artists and build community with artists that are in those areas- and who knows where that may lead. A number of artists I know met plenty of New Yorkers so that when they themselves moved here they already has a network of people to support them.   To me this is the number one reason for folks who do not live in urban art hubs to attend residencies- build community and have discourse.  Vermont Studio School which is a large scale and very well established artist community is infamous for this.
MacDowell Colony
Those of us who DO live in urban places like NY,  still benefit extensively from the community, but perhaps for us the biggest benefit is time and space AWAY from the urban busy lifestyle and to have the ability to focus on uninterrupted studio time.  I know that for me- in the city I am busy with social engagements, teaching responsibilities, and trying to make it to all the incredible art events happening-  so I treasure the time at artist residencies to be AWAY from all of that and just be with my work.  I get to breathe a big sigh….

Another reason a number of my artist friends have attended residencies is to prepare for graduate school taking the time of the residency to build their portfolio for the arduous application process and to start getting into the critical discourse that surrounds the MFA.  What I do know is that though the reasons might be varied but the benefit is guaranteed. I highly encourage it.
The Tin Shop Studio.
There are vast difference in residencies and therefore it is up to the artist to do their research- they vary from expensive but highly respected and established residencies, or prestigious but funded residencies such as the McDowell Colony to small scale one artist at a time emerging residencies such as the Tin Shop in Breckenridge, Co.  It also depends on what you need as an artist- the larger scale residencies tend to have more structure and more community but are generally not open to family attending with you. While smaller scale ones seem to have a lot more flexibility.
Textile Arts Center Residency.
Another thing to note is do you have to pay? and what do you get?   Is it a residency, such as the Textile Arts Center residency, where you are getting a studio only, or do they provide housing?
Roswell New Mexico Residency
There are also a few VERY rare but very special long term residencies which provide housing and a stipend so that you have no financial worries and can truly just focus on the development of your work. This include the very awesome and highly competitive Fine Arts Work Center in Cape Cod.

So that is my little tiny primer on residencies. For those of you that have done one please share in the comments so that readers can benefit from your expereicne too. Or if you know of a super good one let us know!

Hope you can get away soon:)

Until next time keep your needle threaded.
Joetta Maue is a full-time artist primarily using photography and fibers. Her most recent work is a series of embroideries and images exploring intimacy. Joetta exhibits her work throughout the United States and internationally, and authors the art and craft blog Little Yellowbird as well as regularly contributes to Mr. X Stitch. Joetta lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, son, 2 cats, and a goldfish.


Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.