Artist Residencies : A Discussion


Me printing for Pilchuck Glass School Artist in Residence, Alison Saar in 2010.

This past weekend I had the honor of moderating a conversation on artist residencies between residents from Arrowmont School of Arts and Craft, Appalachian Center for Craft, and Penland School of Crafts. In the midst of listening and asking questions I also managed to type up some notes. I’m going to pass their wisdom on to you in mostly bullet point form. And I’m sorry that I can’t attribute the info to particular people, but writing, listening, and talking at the same time is like trying to pat your head and rub your belly at the same time. All of the answers given were far more eloquent than my notes suggest, these are just a taste of the things we talked about over almost two hours.

The artists on my panel were:

Robin Johnston, Penland Res. (fiber)

Micah Evans, Penland Res. (glass)

Ashley Gilreath, Arrowmont Res.(metalsmithing)

Bryce Brisco, App. Center Res.(clay)
Amanda Ross, App. Center Res.(fiber)


Eleanor Richards, App. Center Res. (wood)



Oh, and here are some resources for finding residencies that I collected for the talk.

Alliance of Artist Communities –

ResArtis –

National Parks –


Artist Trust –

TransArtist –

Wooloo –

Café –

How did you find the residency you are a part of?

By listening to my Instructors

By accident, from grad students

Research – of organizations but also of myself and my goals

By looking for organization who had the equipment I need


What to look for when considering a residency? What was your vision for your time as a resident?

Location and equipment

Consider your environment do you want  a different environment (scared) and think about how that will effect your work> move to a bigger city not only about what is a good location but how will it enrich your work life. Do you wanting to leave the big city and change your pace?

Changing pace and discovering more about your work between school experiences.

Some practice with teaching outside of academia

Concentrate and build moment while near more creative energy

Studio time and community

Do your residencies live up to your visions?

I found that I’m processing different things through the residency than I thought I was going to, but processing none-the-less

My goal was to set up studio of my own – small goals through my residency lead to the larger goal.

Still in progress and hitting my goals, but they’re constantly in flux. The bar is always shifting

The cover letter or statement of intent can be idealistic or more elegant than what actually transpires.

Self directed work –  How do you do this? and How do you deal with constant shifts in the personal definition of success?

Residency offers a peer group to work with and motivate with / compete with. – You see your community’s success and thing “I want that too, I want to push my self to reach those goals”

Change relates to time – the length of the residency changes the mindset for the work you want to get done.

Change and notice of work patterns is being stretched out over long period vs. a short

Penland specifically asks for people to apply in a transition point. So you have to examine that change.

Time management

As a potter the work changes at a glacial speed, but feels different all the time

Getting out of the institution and see how potters who live in the real world

Learning to be part of community – other people and other mediums.

Enriching and helping you find out what you love about this medium

People to be in conversation with exchanging ideas, philosophies, and opportunities

Isolation as a good thing or a bad thing – allowing yourself to be alone to just make, personal editing skills.

Isolate yourself and contemplate your work but when you need community it’s there. People to talk to.

Quality of community – asking same questions but residencies offer you the opportunity to have a more precise audience

Are there differences between short term residencies and long term ones?

Short – blitz of work

Long – over whelming amt of time for setting goals

For each one you should invest in it as though it was going to last forever

Fully commit to the adventure

Do your residencies have work commitments? How does this effect your art work?

Studio maintenance, work shops, teaching locally – the work for the school allows me to learn new skills

Benefits – you have to learn how to maintain a studio, to teach, requirements vary, it depends on the kind of work that you do.

As a resident at a school do you have the opportunity to mentor, or be mentored? Do the schools offer you more exposure?

We meet kids from the county, we teach them art classes, teaching classes to other local students

Penland – demonstrate for the classes – more invites to shows – peripheral stuff  more opportunites from networking than from applying to things. As a resident you get hammered into their brains long term experience to people who will be in the field for years to come.

Exposure to teachers that you admire

Exposure to work and media that is new to you

Resources in the other departments to ask for help and inspiration

The people you don’t know you’re going to meet. That is a great benefit.

Does it change your work to be in a position of  responsibility?

Being a state subsidized artist puts stress on oneself to use it for everything it’s worth.

It’s like you become an ambassador for that program, you are the face of the residency or the school.

A little on display. But after a while you ease into it. Plus the weight of the people who have come before you and living up to that.

I’m not only leaving the residency but carrying it with you from then on.

And you don’t know if you will ever have the opportunity again.

Micah is the first flame-working resident at Penland, so pressure of the residency and his peers

Responsibility of being a mentor and a role model, to students

How do you afford the residency?





Established production business

Implement practices now that will make a sustainable life later. The work you make while subsidized will be sustainable later

Craft shows


Work for non-profit

Work for other artists


Production lines

Part time jobs

Visiting artist stipends from universities

Student loans

Conferences / scholarships

Do the residencies require you to make work?

Pieces for collection

Annual shows


Unexpected challenges and how have you over come them?

Programming and saying yes to them all

Studio space connected to larger workshop, not entirely private, guy gossip time, distracting, modifying practice to over come that

Opposite challenge – not enough people around to talk to – force myself to find people and bring them in

Long distance relationship – takes a toll on family and fiancé


Thanks again to all the artists for such a great conversation!