Artists & Community
By Milisa Galazzi
As a regular feature in ProWax Journal, this month’s Artists & Community is Milisa Galazzi’s (MG) interview with artist Laura Moriarty (LM) about her residency experiences.
MG: You have applied to and attended a few different highly selective artist residencies. Please tell us a bit about your residency experiences. Where did you go, for how long were you there, and what was the general flavor of these experiences?
LM: Since 1996, I have taken part in seventeen residencies, including the Ucross Foundation, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, the Oberpfälzer Künstlerhaus in Germany, the Printmaking Center of New Jersey, Pilchuck Glass School (four times), Cere’s Project Room, The University of Dallas Printmaking Dept., the Frans Masereel Center in Belgium (twice), Women’s Studio Workshop (twice), Collaborative Concepts, and The University of Virginia at Charlottesville. Most recently, I took part in the Platte Clove Artist-in-Residence Program in the Catskill Mountain Wilderness. These residencies ranged in length from one week to eighteen months, but were typically three to six weeks. Several of the programs were based on the model of the pure gift of time and space, while others were more project oriented or interactive with a particular community.
MG: You created your own residency in your art studio. Could you tell us more about your DIY Residency? What prompted you to do this, what did you do to prepare yourself and your work space for this type of work? What was the experience like for you?
LM: My DIY residency was really a stay-cation with a mission. At the time my day job involved activities that were closely related to those of my personal studio practice. I did a lot of traveling and planning for the job and the prospect of taking on residency applications, with all the tentative planning they entail, was too complicated for my schedule. Instead, I used my vacation time to work in my own studio. I had enough experience to know what makes a residency effective – a clean, uncluttered space, some defined projects that I wanted to pursue, and the luxury of uninterrupted time. I created a self-appointed residency. I basically prepared for it as if I were hosting a visiting artist in my studio. And since the visiting artist was me, that was super easy. I got a great deal of work done and made some important breakthroughs.
MG: In your opinion, what are the signs and symptoms that an artist is ready to take full advantage of all that a professional residency has to offer?
LM: I can imagine almost any artist benefiting from a residency. It’s actually easier to come up with situations in which an artist might NOT be ready, since I can only think of a few. I have been in a couple of residencies where one of my fellow artists was not having a good time of it. For instance, there was an artist from Paris at Ucross; and she was really miserable in Wyoming. It was just too remote for her, and she didn’t connect with the culture. Another time there was an artist who was grieving the loss of a loved one. They tried to attend, but found it too difficult and wound up leaving pretty quickly. I would say the key is making sure the artist understands the situation and ensures that day to day life won’t present a distraction.
MG: This is a two-fer: How has your art changed and grown from your experiences being part of these sorts of artist communities? How have you as an artist changed and grown from being a part of these artist communities?
LM: Residencies are utopian in nature. They have allowed me to live my ideal life for a short time, completely immersed in my work every waking and dreaming moment. While it may not be possible to live this way all the time, residencies have often helped me to see how I might make shifts and adjustments in my normal routines that have significantly improved the quality of my life and my art.
MG: What advice would you offer an artist who is preparing to apply for a professional residency?
LM: Residencies vary greatly. Try to talk to other artists who have taken part in the residency you are interested in to make sure that it will be a good fit for you.
Thank you for taking the time, Laura, to talk about your experiences and thoughts about Artist Residencies!
Galazzi is an artist living and working in Providence and on Cape Cod in the summer. Her graduate degree is from Rhode Island School of Design where she especially focused on her lifelong interest – art and community. Her website is www.milisagalazzi.com and she is represented by ERNDEN Fine Art Gallery in Provincetown, Mass.