I recently applied for my first artist residency for which I had high hopes of receiving. Although I was told I was a strong candidate, they ultimately selected two other artists and asked me if I was willing to be an alternate should one of them be unable to complete the residency—which I enthusiastically accepted.
The prospect of this residency was especially exciting for me for several reasons—
Most residencies require you to travel somewhere, which for those who have a full time job, student loans, and little to no vacation time, it can be at the very least a financial hardship, or nearly impossible if you can't get the time off from work. However this residency was local and I could put in the studio time during my two days off. The stipend provided would allow me to take an additional day off at work without affecting my finances. And my employer was willing to spare me one day a week so I could have ample studio time. I would much rather be in the studio! Logistically it was PERFECT.
Additionally, the residency was specifically focused on making art using materials from the local waste transfer station. I have included found materials and second-hand objects in my work off and on for many years. My sketchbook is filled with ideas for bodies of work using discarded materials and here was the perfect opportunity to execute those ideas!
During the weeks following my application submission I couldn't help but imagine all the possibilities of what I might create. All of which would culminate in an exhibition after the four-month-long residency. So when I received my quasi-rejection notification, I was a little surprised and disappointed. This, however is something that most artists have to deal with; it is not unique to me. And I can always apply again next year. So I allowed myself to wallow in my disappointment for a brief portion of the day and I refrained from wishing any misfortune on the recipients.
Then I decided that there is no reason I need a residency to make this work. While it would mean shifting my current studio practice from making income-producing jewelry to making conceptual work which might not have the same financial return—who’s to say it couldn't? Let’s face it—when you’re an artist everyone wants to know how you actually earn a living. I intend to have my studio practice be the way I earn my living. And perhaps it's time to take some risks and start moving toward that.
I recently read a quote from author Napoleon Hill who said, "Every adversity has within it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit." So I have decided to be a ghost participant in this residency, or rather define my own residency. So for the next four months (or longer) I will dedicate significant studio time to making this artwork. I won't have access to the waste transfer station, but I have ample materials in my studio with which to start. I can even imagine some jewelry resulting from it. And so we shall see how this seed blossoms.
As part of my residency, I will be regularly updating this blog with my work in progress. If you're interested in seeing where it takes me, you are welcome to follow me on Instagram or Facebook. If you’d prefer to follow this through email you can send me a message. Thanks for reading!