2009 Conference on International Opportunities in the Arts

Global Residence Programs

By: - Apr 13, 2009

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     The three day conference "International Opportunities in the Arts" was held in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 3-5, 2009 by TransCultural Exchange. The first conference of 2007 was also directed by Mary Sherman. Based on research, it is the only opportunity of its kind and nearly 400 participants were local, national, and international presenters and attendees. All left this event with an array of information, documentation, new contacts, renewed friendships, and highly energized. 
     One could choose among 25 sessions,  many introduced residencies with guidelines and application deadlines to loosely woven invitations. 70 presenters came from more than 30 countries. Such organizations, large and small, exist on every continent and many were started and are directed by women. Artist residency programs come with a host of offers and responsibilities for future visitors.




     This article will provide an overview of some of the organizations and artist-in-residency programs, which were introduced during panel-discussions we attended:
     First, we met the founder and director at the Friday evening reception, Ms.Tran Thi Huynh Nga (Huynh Nga, first name), who established "Blue Space Contemporary Art Center" in 1994, in Ho Chi Minh Cit y, Vietnam. She was accompanied by the young gallery director Tran Thi Anh Vu (again, Anh Vu, first name), who functioned as her lovely interpreter. Anh Vu represented the Contemporary Art Gallery "Particular," and told us proudly that she had been a student of Ms. Tran Thi. Vietnam has a lively contemporary art scene.
     "Blue Space" is one of the best known exhibition spaces in Ho Chi Minh City with 6 solo or group exhibitions yearly. It also holds lectures, discussions, performances, and does community outreach.  There is an emphasis on providing exposure for young Vietnamese artists. National and international artists are invited, and the residencies have lasted 7-10 days, while culminating in an exhibition. The international artists have often produced their work for the exhibition on site.




     The "Open Door Policy" of Vietnam has existed since the '90 and the Vietnamese government has provided generous assistance to the arts. Ms. Tran Thi is currently in the process to raise additional funds for new residencies by 2010. She hopes to be able to invite approximately 30 artists. 
     Margaret Shiu is the founding director of "Bamboo Curtain Studio - A Gateway to Asia" near Taipei, Taiwan. As she put it, it's a converted chicken coop. The three studios are recently renovated, fully furnished, and air-conditioned. They have basic working facilities and office support staff. The rental for the studios is $300/week and $150/week for a guest room. The facilities include exhibition, and indoor and outdoor performance spaces; research and exchange center; community kitchen; plaza and gardens.
     Shiu is an economist, turned artist and has studied in the US. She said that one can explore and work on anything a museum would reject, meaning any experimental and interdisciplinary project. A production space is available to make prototypes. The residencies are individually designed and every effort is made to introduce the visiting artist to Taiwan's current exhibitions, events, and facilitate interactions with artists, as well as local schools and communities, if appropriate.
     With more than 400 documented art related locations in all of Asia, the Bamboo Curtain's Research and Exchange Center holds a wealth of information for curators, consultants, and researchers. Recent international artists came from France, the UK, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, USA, Japan, and the Netherlands.  
Other Asian residencies, introduced at the Conference, were: 

     p-10, historic Little India district in Singapore (; Taipei Artist Village, Taipei, Taiwan; HweiLan International Artists Workshop, Hualien, Taiwan -  for all disciplines.

Tokyo Wonder Site, Institute of Contemporary art and International Cultural Exchange, Tokyo, Japan - for emerging artists.
Hasila Art World Museum, Kangnung City, South Korea; Youkoba Art Space, Tokyo, Japan; Red Gate Gallery Residency Program, Beijing, China – for visual artists. And finally: ComPeung Village of Creativity, Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Kanoria Centre for Arts, Ahmedabad, India; The Sanskriti Foundation, New Delhi, India – for visual artists
     Two visiting artists facilities stood out for their extremely beautiful settings and landscapes:
     Steinunn Jonsdottir became aware of international artist residencies, while she was living and studying in the US She decided to establish Baer Art Center in Hofsos after she returned to Iceland. She purchased a farm on the North shore of Iceland on the banks of a fjord in 2004. A small village with 200 inhabitants is nearby and a larger community across the fjord.  The landscape is vast, green, and wind swept.


     She designed and built five new studios with bedroom and bath and the grand opening happened in May of 2007. The old main house holds the cmmunity dining and discussion/meeting room as well as offices. Other work facilities are a metal and wood shops, ceramics facility, and gallery. From June to August, artists and architects share their lives in four weeks sessions to work, discuss ideas and their cultural heritage.
     The neighboring communities are invited to events and exhibitions and participate with enthusiasm. They are fishing and agricultural villages. Baer is also a horse trading farm, where Icelandic horses are bred and trained. A breath taking environment !  
     Mary Hawkes-Green, President and Co-Founder of Burren College of Art introduced this Fine Arts College to the audience. The college was founded in 1994 on the West coast of Ireland and is housed in a castle. (Why not – this is Ireland ! ) The truly inspiring landscape is nearby, unique rock formations and the immense quality of light.
     Burren College has approximately 60 fine arts students and 6-7 artists are invited for 3-4 week long sessions between May and August every year. The visiting artists, which may be young or established, are expected to interact or give work shops for students as well. New inquiry is encouraged and Hawkes-Green used the expressions: "A Poet's School – Time, Space, Inspiration" for lingering thoughts.
     Many Universities and Colleges have Visiting Artists – Scholars – or Curators Programs in addition to their teaching mandates and students get exposed to internationally working professionals in the arts.
     Jane Gavan, Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching, Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney, Australia, showed a video. Their facilities and opportunities are great and manifold, situated at the edge of Sydney harbor.
     Juliet Armstrong, a Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, spoke about their setting near the coast and in the mountains. The university is located in the city of Pietermaritzburg near Durban on the East coast of South Africa. Visiting artists are expected to have an exhibition at the end of their residency and share time and knowledge with students.
     The following presentations warmed out hearts:
     Riitta Tarvainen invited the audience, any artist, to e-mail her and "just come." She and her husband Risto are not artists, but established the "Hovinkartano Art Exhibition Centre" several years ago in a country Manor House, near the town of Hameenlinnia in Southern Finland. It's just an hour from Helsinki and as we later learned, also a destination drive for visitors. Pirjo Heino, artist and gallerist, opened six galleries on the grounds, and there is a restaurant.
     But during the week, the setting appears to be a country side with fresh air, clear water, and silence. Riita recounted a resident's outburst, who came from India: "But where are the People?" He was sitting around the dinner table with only five Other. We spoke later with an artist, who had been there for some weeks with sixteen international artists. She loved her experience and has since been invited to a residency in Eastern Europe. Such outcome, of course, is quite likely, while living and working with artists from around the globe. And it is an intended goal to peacefully connect and share ourselves with those we meet.; and Pirjo Heino:
     Abou El Naga, Head of the El Nafeza Foundation for Contemporary Arts & Development in Cairo, Egypt, spent nine months in Japan, where he learned the art and techniques of paper making. He has since refined and adjusted the process to Egyptian raw material. He is an accomplished artist, who has exhibited internationally. During the conference he displayed images of his beautiful and sensual large scale paper installations.
     He is also an activist and has trained unemployed youths and women in paper making, 300 so far, in order to help them become self-sufficient. The El-Nafeza Foundation would gladly accept orders for paper shipments from abroad and invites artists to visit and make paper in the workshop. The foundation is located in downtown Cairo, within walking distance to the Egyptian Museum.  
     We reported in 2007 about a residency program in rural Romania, which is sponsored by the German-Romanian artist, Dorothea Fleiss, Director of East-West Artists in Stuttgart. She spoke again about her project, now in its twelfth year.  She will invite fifty or more artists from around the world to the 2009 symposium/workshop, held in August in Carei. A Romanian castle will again be the evening's focal point for discussions, events, dance, and interaction with the population. Please read further details: "Conference Evokes Food for Thought and Initiative."
     Karola Teschler, the founder and director of the European Artists Association, is based in Velbert, near Essen, Germany. The organization accepts international members and has held symposia/residencies since 2003 in Germany and other countries. Exhibitions have usually followed the program and gave international exposure to resulting works. 
     Akademie Schloss Solitude (and Foundation), Stuttgart, offers space and place for scientific and artistic exchanges. The Founding Director is Jean-Baptiste Joly.
     We just could not attend every session, but what intrigued us also:

     The At Home Gallery  and  Synagogue Association for Arts and Culture, Samorin, Slovakia. The directors, Csaba and Suzanne Kiss, offer space to artists, writers, and musicians and the possibility to perform or exhibit in the synagogue.
     There were presentations by European organizations for artists/architects, writers, and musicians.

      Here's just a selection:

     France: Le Grame, National Centre for Musical Creation, Lyon; Camac, Marnay-sur-Seine, for art and science. Italy: The Bogliasco Foundation, Bogliasco, for advanced creative and scholarly projects; and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Umbertide (PG), for nominated writers, visual artists, and composers. Turkey: K2, Izmir, with studios for mostly young artists; and residency/exhibition and teaching opportunities in 25 universities throughout Turkey. Greece: Apothiki Foundation, Athens/Paros-Cyclades – the island setting has inspired artists for more than 5000 years.





     Israel - The Partnership with Israel Western Galilee Consortium, offers a program in all areas with the goal to build strong interpersonal relationships between home community and visitors.


     Ghana - Cross Cultural Collaborative, Inc., brings creative people together, in order to promote cultural exchange and understanding.
     Very interesting national residency programs were introduced by:

     Ce Scott, Director of Residencies and Exhibitions, of the McColl Center for Visual Art, in Charlotte, NC, for visiting artists, exhibitions, and educational programs. Hunter O'Hanian, Director of the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass Village, CO, for emerging and established artists. Jay Critchely, Director, Provincetown Community Compact, a dune shack project.

     Katherine Johnson, Arts/Industry Pottery Technician at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboyan, WI. This is an artist-and-industry program, where work can be developed in the facilities of the Kohler factory in the iron and brass foundries, an enamel shop and pottery, with the assistance of the factory staff. 
      South of the border:

     ArtCorps, Latin America, sends professional artists to assist Central American organizations in developing educational programs for social and environmental change. 
     Further, mentoring sessions allowed for guidance to those, who brought their portfolios. A panel introduced grant foundations(CIES/Fulbridght Program, DAAD, German-American Exchange Program, Lighton Internationa Artist Exchange) and government support. Another panel gave general information on grant writing. Throughout the sessions presenters emphasized the importance of researching the correct fit and place by applicants. Luncheon meetings were offered with table topics and two ballroom-size dinners (and dance) provided yet more opportunities to get acquainted.



     Mary Sherman introduced a world-wide project of more than 60 exhibitions "Here, There and Everywhere: Anticipating the Art of the Future." They are occurring between March and June 2009. Collaborations between artists from different cultures and disciplines were encouraged, and several of the exhibitors announced their shows, as the conference came to an end - on a very high note.