I spent most of the first half of 2013 as the Artist in Residence at the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics. When I told my friends and family (not to mention new acquaintances) that I was an Artist in Residence, their reaction was almost universally: “That’s fantastic! Congratulations!” (pause) “What is that, exactly?”
While Artist in Residence (AIR) programs can vary in their details, in general, they exist in order to create an environment in which an artist can delve deeply into their work, relatively free from distractions – and this was certainly the case for me at SCGP. Sometimes, that is all there is to it, but often, there is an expectation that the artist will “give back” to the organization providing the residency, in the form of leaving a piece of art behind, giving talks or leading workshops, etc. In fact, I did both of these things at SCGP – my pieces Starburst and Infinity Flower now proudly hang in the SCGP Café, and I taught several workshops on 3D Modeling and Printing during my time there.
Other components of an AIR program often include room and board, studio space and access to equipment and/or supplies, and community with other artists. It all depends on the nature of the program and the goals of the organization providing it.
No matter what the details, though, AIR programs are an incredible boon for artists, and we are oh so grateful for them!