Saturday, October 24, 2009

Artist Residencies

Well, having done only one residency, I'm certainly no expert in this category, but below are some of the residencies  and studio programs that seem to be most popular (and interesting). Again, and as always, in no particular order:

a good program for aspiring photojournalists. Involves travel and photography!

Terra (France)

Vermont Studio Program
1-3 month programs that provide studio, room, and board. relatively expensive, unfortunately, but good.

Cowhouse Studios, Ireland

GuestHaus Residency, Los Angeles
for artists and scholars who need a place to stay while working on a project in LA (must be a project with a designated location/exhibition space)

McColl Residency, Charlotte, NC

Tilian Farm Development Residency

Denniston Farming residency

Montalvo, (California)

Smithsonian Fellowship

Princeton Hodder Fellowship (for artists and writers)

Georgia Fee Arts writing residency in Paris

For a fantastic repository of residencies around the world, visit: Resartis

Another residency repository: Residency Unlimited

Applying to Grad School

Given the current economy, many people are looking into returning to school. Below are a few tips for those of you considering grad school in the arts. The recommendations and observations below are mainly geared toward MFA programs, but may be applicable to Art History, Theory and Criticism or other programs:

Interdisciplinarity is the buzz word of the decade. Many masters programs are seeking to provide courses of study that integrate one or more fields of study. The art-science fusion is big, as are PhD studio programs ("Visual Studies"). Recently I've heard of several students returning to school for MLIS degrees - Masters in Library Information Sciences. 

Here are some recommendations that I frequently share with students. They are listed in no particular order: 

Know the program that you are applying to. 

If at all possible, visit the schools that you're interested in. 

Ask lots of questions. Talk to the graduate admissions advisor, to core faculty in the program and to current and recent grad students. 

Familiarize yourself with the kind of work that the faculty and graduate students make in that program. 

Go to open studios to see the kind of work that current grads are producing. 
Each school will have a different approach and philosophy.  Some will be more technical, others theoretical. Some will favor abstraction and formalism, others will be conceptual or phenomenological. Ask what their departmental philosophy is! 

Find out what the studios and facilities are like - where will you be working if you go to that school? 
Find out what kind of financial aid packages they offer (if any. Many schools have cut funding in this economy). Ask if there are any private scholarships or endowments that grads can apply for. 
Find our what the teaching/TA appointments are for grads
Familiarize yourself with the portfolio requirements of each school that you are interested in.
Prepare your portfolio early, so that you have some perspective before sending it off.
Have at least 2 other people look over your application materials and give you feedback before you send it off.
Do not rush through your application - if you are doing your application in a hurry, most likely you will not get in. Be prepared, and plan ahead!
Do lots of research on all the schools you're considering. no one will accept an applicant who is unfamiliar with the program(s) they are applying to. have GOOD, CLEAR reasons for why you are applying to each school.
While it is alluring to apply to grad school right after undergrad – there is a safety net within the academic structure/system. But, many schools look positively upon some time off.
Take time to work, travel, make work outside of school. You will make very different work once you have been ‘on your own’ for a while, and are not making projects to fulfill assignments.
Make a lot of work. Grad programs will not accept you if it looks like you are not actually interested in making work. To study studio art in grad school means that you are interested in being a career artist, that you are constantly making work, whether you are in school or not, and that you have intentions of continuing to make work. 
All programs will outline their application requirements online. Be sure that you have FULLY explored the website for the program you are interested in. Many of your questions will be answered there. 
Things you will most likely need to prepare for your application to grad school:
Statement of Purpose
Artist Statement
General Application
CV or Resume
Non studio programs may also have the following requirements:
Language requirements
Writing Sample (usually 2 10 page papers, one 20-25 page paper, or a Masters Thesis, if applying to a PhD program with an existing MA)

How do I find the right grad school?
Do your research! See recommendations above. 
You should plan to go to a school in the city where you want to live. 

How do I represent multimedia or multipart artworks in my portfolio?
Most school accept DVDs as well as CDs these days. Multi-media works or video works should be documented with brief clips that give a sense of the size, scope and character of the work. I think it's a good idea to include title cards - identifying the title, medium, and date of the work you are presenting in time-based media.
You should also try to take still images of all your work - with a caption or title that explains that it is a still from an installation or multi-media work. 

What should I say in my statement?
Each school will ask you for specific information. Generally, statements should give a clear summary of what your practice is like and how and why going to grad school would help you continue or pursue certain aspects of your work. You should not come across as though you have it all definitively figured out - because if that's the case, schools will wonder what you need grad school for. 
You should clearly identify why you are interested in that particular school, and how you would be a good fit for their program. 

Should I take time off in between undergrad and grad school?
Personally, I think so. Different schools will have different opinions. But, it's good to get to know yourself and your practice for a little bit outside the parameters of an academic institution. You will make very different work when you are not making work for assignments. You will learn about your own motivation and vision. If you get out of undergrad, and continue to make work no matter what, then you're probably meant to be an artist. If you get out of undergrad and make one piece a year, or non, then maybe an MFA isn't a good idea for you. 

Do I need a BFA in order to apply for an MFA?
Not necessarily - people with other degrees (english, comp lit, philosophy, etc) apply to MFA programs and get in. But you do need a good portfolio

Can I work and go to grad school?
If you can avoid it, don't work. You will (or, should) work harder in grad school than you have ever worked. It will be hard to have a job AND commit yourself fully to grad school. Grad programs are only 2 or 3 years. If you get in, give it your all. You will have the rest of your life to work and pay off debt.