Faculty Guest Blogger: Laura Duerwald Alexander
Laura Duerwald Alexander: I recently returned from a month-long residency at the Vermont Studio Center, a program for visual artists and writers located in an idyllic New England village nestled in the Green Mountains. It’s the largest international program in the United States, hosting fifty residents each month. I found the idea of going to Vermont in February appealing; the short grey days of deep winter offer a time of reflection, internalization, and focus.
Upon arrival I was greeted warmly by the staff and given two keys, one to my private room and one to my studio. The work space was spacious (15’ x 22’) with high ceilings and three light-filled windows that overlooked the Gihon River, with the mountains looming in the near distance. After a guided tour of the campus I unpacked and organized my materials, eager and ready to begin work and to meet my fellow residents.
The first opportunity to meet the other guests was at dinner that evening. The VSC community is international, with artists and writers from far-away places such as Australia, Tibet, Taiwan, England, Brazil, and from all over the United States and Canada. Meals were communal with 60 or so people dining together—one of the aspects of my experience as a resident that I enjoyed most. These highly social meals alternated and contrasted with intensive solitary time in my studio.
There were many optional events that I integrated into my routine:
- Visiting artists – during the course of the month, four distinguished visual artists offered public slide presentations of their work and one-on-one studio visits in the following days. I had each of the four artists critique my work, two painters, a performance artist, and a sculptor.
- Open Studio Nights – once every two weeks, residents were invited to open their studio doors after the evening meal so that the local and residential community could see what we had been working on since our arrival. These were lively events and great fun.
- Resident Presentations – one evening each week, we were given the opportunity to give a short, five minute slide presentation to showcase our work and history.
- Readings – an opportunity to listen to poetry or fiction read by visiting writers, or works-in-progress read by resident writers.
There were other program features, such as life drawing sessions every weekday, three exhibition spaces to visit, art libraries to peruse, and yoga, meditation, and tai chi for the mind/body connection. There was also an art supply store on the campus that had a vast inventory of top quality art materials at a discounted rate.
The freedom from the constraints of everyday life gave me the time to complete a group of new paintings for an upcoming show. While it was gratifying to end my four-week stay with such visible evidence of productivity, it was the support of this vibrant and tight-knit community that was ultimately most invaluable.
Laura Duerwald Alexander: http://lauraduerwald.com/
The Vermont Studio Center: http://vermontstudiocenter.org/
Artist Residencies: http://www.artistcommunities.org/residencies/upcoming-deadlines