Frequently Asked Questions about an Artist in Residency Program
I was asked many times about the artist in residency program that is sponsored by the American Academy of Equine Art, and is held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, which acts as the "base camp". I've put the questions here, hopefully to answer other's questions.
Q: What is an artist in residence?
A: An artist in residence is an artist, usually a full-time professional, who is invited to move their scope of operations to a new location for a period of time. The length of time for a residency through the AAEA can be from one week to a full month. This relocation can entail the artist's process of creating new work, or merely be time away from the normal routine to gather information, share ideas and grow in one's knowledge or career. One is a special individual offered special opportunities not generally available to the public. The artist experience of a residency can include time alone, interactions with people, or intense study. The choice of WHAT to do is determined by the artist and his or her needs. However, as an artist in residence, you will need to spend a portion of your time physically at the Kentucky Horse Park, in the studio space there.
Q: How does one arrange for a residency (called AIR from this point)?
A: Residencies at the Kentucky Horse Park (called KHP from this point) are arranged through contact with the American Academy of Equine Art Director, Julie Buchanan. Her contact can be found at the AAEA web site www.aaea.net . AIRs at the KHP are limited to members of the American Academy of Equine Art at this time. There are other AIR programs throughout the United States and the world, but none focused on the equine, to my knowledge. The AIRs are booked a year in advance.
Q: What expenses can I encounter while doing an AIR?
A: I flew in and out of Lexington, and rented a car. I had a room and many of my meals provided by my host family, and I had to buy others. If you do not have a host family, arranged through Julie Buchannan, you will need to make arrangements for where you will sleep. I had shipping costs for my materials, and bought many other things I needed while there. There is no reimbursement of expenses for your residency, as it is considered art education. This is normal for residencies. You can deduct all expenses on your taxes for career development/education, however. I ended up selling a painting I had done while there, so it was not all outgo.
Q: What should I bring to a residency?
A: Flexibility to change your schedule to take advantage of opportunities as they arise! Your central contact person is Julie Buchannan, and she has many opportunities to go places and see things that are extraordinary. For example, I was given the opportunity to see some masterful works of historical significance that are hanging on walls the "common person" never sees. This was arranged after I arrived, so I needed to adjust what I planned to do to accomodate this.
You should bring or ship finished work to display while you are working at the KHP. Even if you are off getting reference, you should provide your own promotional materials about who you are and what you do, that can be picked up by people stopping by to see your work. The AAEA provides news releases in advance of your arrival, so people who come to the KHP are interested in the program, and ask for you. I sold one of my paintings that I did while there, without even having it out for view. I'd be sure to ship/bring more smallish finished works to show!
Q: What would I do while I'm in an AIR?
A: I made an agenda to spend 40% of my time painting, and 60% of the time doing research for future paintings. I wanted to represent the AAEA by being on the KHP for part of each day, but I also wanted to get the information I need for paintings I will/am making here in my studio. It worked for me. You might choose just to gather information. I was fortunate enough to be there for a major equestrian event, the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event, right there at the KHP. You might plan your trip to have a similar major event.
My mornings found me at Keeneland and the Red Mile, photographing the workouts and absorbing the spirit of the places. I drove around the countryside, stopping when scenery caught my eye, and also to just enjoy being in Kentucky in the Spring. If you live in similar country, you might not do that driving bit, but focus on areas where you need to gather information. The Keeneland Library is filled with art books, and the Academy itself has an extensive library and reference materials. One can view the shows in the KHP gallery, or see others' work in Cross Gate Gallery downtown.
Q: What would I do differently if I had to do it again?
A: Ask Julie for the AAEA AIR notebook the first day, which is full of information. I would call the Louisville Chamber of Commerce and ask for local information or get it off the web well before I left. I would make a better plan with more options. Make a notepad of times to go see things that interest me that are only there in Lexington. Check the weather for up to a week before leaving to know what to take for clothes.
Stay longer! And take energy juice to keep going after I was exhausted.
Buy my tickets well in advance using Priceline.com. I did that for my tickets for the workshop next June and saved a bundle. I flew into Louisville for the AIR, and drove over. It was cheaper (on Southwest Airlines), but the drive took over an hour coming in and leaving. For me, not having been in Lexington in April, I thought (rightly so) that I'd need the time to begin assimilating the environment.
What I wouldn't do is send/ship so many art supplies! There's a wonderful Michael's art supply store right there in Lexington; I could have bought all the canvases I needed.
Q: Why would I tell others to do an AIR?
A: For me, it was an enriching opportunity to meet new people, see things I have wanted to paint, and it gave me a chance to focus completely on my art. For others it might be a vacation getaway, but I was more tired when I came home! If you have an opportunity to do a residency, take it! You will process your art differently and better after the experience. I felt in this mode more aware of the mantle of being somewhat of a "faymeese arteest" than I do here in Wildomar. That feels really good!
Unfettered by responsibilities of housework, home care and animal care, I could wake up knowing my days would be filled with nothing but art-related activities.