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November 01, 2021

5 artist residencies you may not have heard of

Article by Annikka Olsen

3 min. read

Residency main house
Arts Letters and Numbers residency in Averill Park, NY

Artist residencies are an important, some might even say indispensable, element of an artist’s career. These programs can offer funding, professional networking, new sources of inspiration, and, not least of all, refuge from any distractions that might otherwise preoccupy an artist’s time. There are residencies all over the world situated in a variety of contexts, from remote and isolated single studios to major art spaces and museums—no two are exactly alike. Similarly, the time commitment can vary widely, with some lasting only a week and others several months or even years. While major residencies such as the MacDowell Colony, Chinati Foundation, and Whitney Independent Study Program are well-known and hold considerable cachet, they are also highly competitive and only make up a small segment of the residencies accepting artist applications every year.

1. The RAiR Program, New Mexico
The Roswell Artist-in-Residence (RAiR) Program has colloquially been referred to as the “gift of time,” offering visual artists full-year residencies set in the high plains of southeast New Mexico. The RAiR Program is funded by the RAiR Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which also supports the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art and the Historic Studios at Berrendo Road. Together, the Foundation offers its residents an unparalleled opportunity not only to concentrate on their work, but also take advantage of local arts programming and be part of a collegial environment of other artists working in the area.

The RAiR (Roswell Artist-in-Residence Foundation), in New Mexico

2. Black Rock, Senegal
A relative newcomer in the world of artist residencies, Black Rock was founded in 2019 by American painter Kehinde Wiley, whose presidential portrait of Barack Obama is currently touring the United States. Located in Dakar, the residency is named after the volcanic rocks that are found along the city’s coastline. Designed by Senegalese architect Abib Djenne, the complex includes three individual residences with adjacent studios, as well as a studio space for Wiley. Black Rock offers 1 to 3 month stays and offers artists a unique opportunity to connect with and be inspired by West Africa.

Dakar Senegal
City of Dakar, Senegal where the Black Rock residency is located

3. Arts Letters & Numbers, New York
Located three hours north of New York City in Averill Park is Arts Letters & Numbers, which started its life as a summer artists workshop but welcomed its first Artist in Residence in 2015. Though providing space for artists to pursue their own individual artistic practice is a core tenant of the program, the residency also places high value on providing a context for artists to engage with and support one another through shared studio spaces and lodging. The site also continually hosts a variety of programming visiting artists can take advantage of, including weekly happenings, lectures, and/or workshops.

4. La Becque | Artist Residency, Switzerland
On the shores of Lake Geneva in La Tour-de-Peilz is La Becque | Artist Residency, which offers residents state-of-the-art live/work accommodations with stunning views of the Swiss alps. La Becque has already developed a competitive reputation (one of its sister residencies, Eyebeam, has been touted as career launching), however, they consider both mid- and early-career artist applications, and instead focus on the quality and aptness of applying artist’s residency-specific projects; they favor projects that take advantage of the residency’s unique location in nature, as well as its interconnectedness with environmentalism and technology.

La Becque in La Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland © Roger Frei
Duy Hoàng, La Becque, 2019

5. NES Artist Residency, Iceland
Set in the stunning landscape of Iceland’s northwestern coast is NES Artist Residency. The program hosts between 90 to 120 artists each year, furnishing them with studio space and accommodation within the town of Skagaströnd. NES is one of the most accessible in that they accept applications from artists of any discipline and operate on a system of “self-definition” whereby they consider anyone who self identifies as an artist an artist worthy of consideration regardless of career status or practice. Since its founding in 2008, NES has cultivated strong relationships with local resources, including the University of Iceland, which are all available to resident artists.

NES Iceland
NES Artist Residency, in Iceland

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