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Is an Art Residency Right for You?

Is an Art Residency Right for You?

Carolyn Edlund | ArtsyShark

Have you ever considered applying for an Art Residency?

This type of opportunity can be a great experience – or not. Guest Blogger Joseph Cavalieri has been working in glass as a fine art form since 1997. Collected and exhibited worldwide, his work can also be seen on TV in The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special and in two issues of the Corning Museum’s New Glass Review. His MTA Arts in Transit public art commission is located at the Philipse Manor Metro North Station. To see more work visit:


Within the last 2 years I’ve had three residencies in Australia, India and Scotland. Each arrangement was different and resulted in different outcomes. I’d like to share what I have learned artist-to-artist of how to make an art residency work best for you. If done the right way they can be inspiring, productive and a great boost for your creative career. If the wrong choices are made they make you feel secluded and empty your pockets of cash.

What Kind of Traveler Are You?

1. You pick a destination based on its:



Residencies originated as organizations that supported artists one-hundred percent. They gave room, board, living expenses, and introductions, among other perks. Often the host was a private or non-profit organization, and received grants for supporting art. In return for their “support of the arts”, they improved the local community, added to their collection, and create a long-lasting relationship.

The term “residency” has changed over time. Now each are extremely different and offer varied arrangements. Some you may need to pay for the accommodations, travel and bring your own supplies. Read the fine print before spending the time on the application.


Before you even start to research residencies you should have answers to very big questions about your work. What you are searching for as an artist, how you define success. These come under what we call a “Vision Statement”. It is the basic reasoning behind why you do your art. If a residency is in your vision statement, list what you want to get out of it before starting your search.

My “vision statement” includes teaching, inspiring other artists, and traveling. These are not first on the list, but they are an important element of my vision of being an artist. You may want a residency to be inspired by new surroundings and people, or a retreat to quietly continue your current work, or even to make contacts for future shows. Be honest and clear with what you want.

Think about if you can survive financially and mentally away from your studio for a month or two. Time spent at a residencies can result in you producing less work. It takes time to adjust and set up a new work space in a new environment. You may need to bring supplies or figure out how to buy them in a foreign country. These are all things you need to consider before applying. Remember, residencies should not be considered vacations. They are hard work, with a high level of socializing thrown in.

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