OUR RESIDENT ARTISTS

Spotlight on Outstanding Arquetopia Alumni
Updated November 2019

Since its beginnings in 2009, Arquetopia Foundation has hosted more than 600 artists, writers, art historians, curators, and researchers from nearly 90 countries worldwide and from a wide variety of disciplines. Below are testimonials and feedback from some of the outstanding alumni of our award-wining residency programs.

tatianaarocha
TATIANA AROCHA (Colombia/USA)
Visual Artist – Graphic Design, Illustration, Animation
Click for Artist Website

What is your artistic practice?
I’m a visual artist with a background in graphic design, illustration and animation. My work is a personal exploration of the vulnerable landscapes in Colombia, specifically its rainforests. I create landscapes and details that are non-realistic representations made by collaging my own digital paintings and illustrations. Through my artwork I intend to create a map to my childhood memories and story.

Although my artwork is composited digitally, everything begins and ends with an analog process. I typically collect and photograph specimens in the field that I then use to create textures and brushes. Once I have collected enough elements, I work at scale in Photoshop to compose and transform the images. After printing, I then paint additional details and layers by hand.

On what projects are you currently working?
I'm finishing up pieces for a group exhibition about medicinal plants for the NYU Langone Art Program and Collection called “Herbarium,” curated by Katherine Meehan. In this series I’m working with the coca plant, which has a deeper history than its modern use as a narcotic drug. Coca has a lot of medicinal uses and nutritional value which indigenous peoples have known for a long time but are just now becoming more common knowledge.

This summer, I was part of a group exhibition at The Wassaic Project in New York with an installation called “Impending Beauty.” As part of this installation, I invited people to have tea and conversations about the environment and our relationship to nature. Once the exhibition is over, I’ll be moving the installation into my studio and continuing the tea sessions, and I’m really looking forward to having different people coming to my studio to be part of these.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
All of the conversations I had at Arquetopia were incredible, but there were two that have stayed with me and I’m still working on figuring them out.

One was regarding the Jungian psychology concept of “shadow” within my art. I wish I could say I’ve figured out what my shadow is, but I’m still thinking about it.

The second was what it means to be a Latin woman artist in the U.S. The challenge I often encounter as a Latin woman artist is that many people have a preconception of how my work should look. I am told very often that they wish it was more colorful, and they have trouble understanding why I render my tropical landscapes in black and white. Reflecting on these challenges gave me a new perspective and made me feel stronger about staying true to my vision and continuing with the direction that I have chosen for my work.

What changed after the residency at Arquetopia?
I started working on a new series of three-dimensional pieces after I discovered that I enjoy making paper sculptures and combining found objects at Arquetopia. It’s been exciting to see a new body of work emerge that complements my two-dimensional print pieces.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
Because I spent my professional career as a graphic designer and illustrator before dedicating myself fully to my art practice, I was trained to focus my creativity on practical solutions for clients. This process did not allow for wide experimentation or room for error. By contrast, my residencies have allowed me to more deeply discover the importance of experimentation. As a result, my focus has shifted from seeking solutions to immersing myself in a more fruitful and creative exploration.

Additionally, I’ve found new inspiration from each residency’s location and physical surroundings. Each place gave me unexpected perspectives, new techniques, and stronger connections to different communities. My latest residency was in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, and in addition to lectures by scientists and other artists, I got to explore my connection to nature and what it means for me and my practice. With each residency I gain more insight into who I am, how to connect my story to my artwork, new ideas for new work, and new friendships with like-minded artists and colleagues.

Ellen1a
ELLEN BEPP (Japan/USA)
Visual Artist – Mixed Media, Hand-Cut Paper
Two-Time Arquetopia Artist-in-Residence, Oaxaca
Arquetopia 2015 Residency Scholarship Award Recipient
Click for Artist Website

What is your artistic practice?
MIxed media, hand-cut paper.

On what projects are you currently working?
I continue to explore handcut paper as a format to bring attention to acts of injustice, xenophobia, racism, particularly in the context of the current regressive political climate in the US. During my recent stays in Oaxaca and short visit to Chiapas, I learned more about the history of political upheaval and resistance in those Indigenous communities, past and present. This has propelled me to further attempt to address struggles here in the US through art and activism.

For example, as a Japanese American, it is important for me to continue to educate the public about past incidents of racism and injustice based on my personal experiences. I consider it my obligation to remind people of the wrongs perpetrated against Japanese Americans, including my family, during WWII in this country and their incarceration in concentration camps by the US government. The scenario is much too similar today against Muslim citizens and other immigrants and the xenophobic hysteria is palpable. I will show my work in a group exhibition slated to open in September 2017, addressing these issues and honoring the 75th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which was issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. His signing ordered the removal of Japanese Americans from parts of the West Coast and today it is crucial to speak out to never allow this to happen again.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
What I recall most is a conversation I had with one of the Arquetopia board members, Raymundo Fraga, while I was visiting the Puebla residency site in 2015. The Arquetopia staff had set up a meeting for me because I had expressed interest in the Indigenous history of Mexico and a desire to learn about traditional papel amate (bark paper). I wanted to research names of groups of original inhabitants who still survive today. It turned out that Raymundo Fraga is one of the most knowledgeable educators and textile collectors around, so I had the honor of meeting him. He generously shared his time and knowledge, books and resources so that I could look up names, indigenous languages still spoken and learn how the amate paper was made and used. I had read that there were areas in the state of Puebla where the paper was still being produced so he gave me directions on how to reach a small community named San Pablito, Pahuatlán, about eight hours away by bus. I made my way there and visited the taller (workshop) of Juan Santos where he demonstrated step-by-step how the papel amate has been made and used for generations. It was a privilege to spend time with him and his family. I procured a large sheet of amate paper that day from him and created an art piece dedicated to the 68 current indigenous communities of Mexico.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
After returning home from each of my two residencies at Arquetopia, I found myself asking more questions about what was important to me in my art practice. When I had first arrived in Oaxaca on July 26, 2014, we received news about the kidnapping/disappearance of 43 student teachers at Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in the state of Guerrero. Then when I returned home after my 2014 residency the news about more killings of unarmed African Americans was also weighing heavily upon me. I wanted to create work around those issues of racism, police brutality, and social injustice. I decided to experiment with the Mexican paper cutout art form (papel picado) which has always struck me as both ethereal and powerful. I wanted to address these killings in America in particular and in my community in Oakland, CA. This is when I began cutting out the names of 100 unarmed African Americans killed by police in 2014. It was a cathartic process and I have been told by viewers that reading these names cut out of a delicate sheet of paper is somehow much more impactful than reading printed names.

After my 2015 residency, I continued doing handcut paper, experimenting with text and with figurative pieces as well. As the 2016 US presidential race ramped up, I wanted to address the border wall, anti-immigration issues, etc.

Today, as a result of so many backward changes in policies by this American government and an atmosphere of fearmongering and hatred, people of color and people with fewer financial resources are struggling. Many of us in the artist community are taking a stance of resistance and realize once again the importance of art as a tool and a weapon.

Artist residencies allow us to break out of our usual routines and escape our daily distractions. They allow us to commit ourselves to our art with the luxury of a concentrated chunk of time. They expose us to experiences outside of our everyday lives if we take the opportunity to actively get involved in a new environment and remain open. They expose us to new people and viewpoints if we embrace the opportunity to engage, exchange and learn from them. All of this gives us a richer and deeper well to draw from in order to enhance our artistic practice.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
I had the rare fortune to attend my first Oaxaca residency in 2014 but was able to immediately return the following year, thanks to an amazing gift from Arquetopia. Because I had become familiar with the area my first time there, by my second time I was able to travel around even more easily, to visit local friends that I had met the year before. This gave me opportunities to learn directly from people in the community about their personal lives, culture and the many-faceted environment of Oaxaca.


Screen Shot 2018 11 22 at 6.49.22 PM
ANNABEL BIRO (Canada)
Visual Artist – Ceramics
Click for Artist Website

What is your artistic practice?

I am a visual artist working in ceramics.

On what projects are you currently working?
I am currently working on a large scale installation project. My goal is to create a ceramic floating dock and to install the work in the water of the Halifax NS Waterfront. This project is a continuation of the conceptual framework I started to explore during my time at Arquetopia. I am interested in the concept of ownership over space/property, I am working on creating a dialogue that examines this concept further. The dock form I am pursuing to create represents an abstract form of land; a dock could be described as an extension or island of land for our bodies to stand upon. By creating this object I am inevitably creating something that is seen to be owned by someone.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia? 
The readings and weekly meetings were so beneficial during my residency. One of the discussions that has stuck with me was about making work with intention and being conscience of the shadows that your work creates. Artists create work with their own experiences and the audience will have many more perspectives to the work that may not be what the artist had anticipated. By having the skill to see where those shadows are in your work will only guide you to refine your arts purpose further. Another important discussion during my residency was one about the use of language. Specifically the use of words that are relative to an individ- ual experience, like authentic, traditional, primitive, exotic, ect. Many of the amazing essays I read highlighted and emphasized the issues and implications of the use of language. These are just two examples of the conversations I had at Arquetopia. 

What changed after the residency at Arquetopia?
From this experience I am motivated to create work with more awareness to the multiple perspectives and experiences of my audience. I have learned so much from Francisco, Nayeli, the other amazing talented artists I had the opportunity to meet during my stay. It was also my first time traveling outside of Canada and I absolutely loved exploring and learning about Puebla, Mexico. I am inspired to travel more and to keep pursuing my artistic practice through residencies. I am so grateful for my time at Arquetopia. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
Artistic practices are strengthened by stepping out of your comfort zone and putting your work out for more people to connect with. By participating in artist residencies you have the opportunity to make connections with a group of diverse creative minds. It also provides artists with the space and resources to create work. In addition, this international residency gives artists the chance to travel and work which is truly amazing. All the things that an Artist Residency provides has the potential to motivate and guide an artistic practice through growth.


quincy1
QUINCY BRIMSTEIN (USA)
Visual Artist – Printmaking
Click for Artist Website

What is your artistic practice?
I'm an artist based in Portland, Maine. A majority of my work is printmaking based. Unlike most traditional printmaking, I usually don't create editions. I use the multiple prints and the unique textures within them to reinvent imagery by using collage techniques.

On what projects are you currently working?
I recently completed a fellowship at Pickwick Independent Press in Portland, Maine. The fellowship, Printers Without Margins, allows for individuals to create radical printed matter with a social message to share with the larger community. The social message I chose to focus on was volunteering and idea that free-time is a privilege that can become a vehicle of positive change. Now that I have completed the fel- lowship, I'm very interested in continuing to incorporate text into my imagery and I have been writing a lot to inform my visual practice.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
The conversations I had with Francisco and Nayeli were very insightful and illuminating. I found our most interesting and multifaceted conversation was regarding the politics of space and how its crucial to consider the audience and how their background relates to the experience of viewing. I was particularly moved by the idea that the history of art has always favored power and has established many artists as being the “masters of time” thereby positioning the viewer as “stuck in space.” Additionally, we discussed who has the right to represent specific places and the complex histories that permeate landscape art. From this conversation I began to ask: when depicting landscapes and ecology, who is the artist claiming space for and why? What is the source of this place and what is the epistemology of that area?

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
After my residency at Arquetopia, I developed a critical curiosity for many topics and areas of art. Many of the articles that I read about Mexican art history revealed that art was used as a tool for colonialism. Now my eye is trained to recognize this phenomena in art and media which can be a startling and illuminating realization. I was also lucky enough to continue traveling throughout Mexico after my stay at Arquetopia. I traveled with new friends and sometimes traveled alone and so I really had to trust my intuition when navigating these new spaces. I found friends in the most unlikely of situations and am forever grateful for all the great connections I made in Mexico.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
As a recent graduate, I am still developing my artistic practice and the financial flexibility to regularly and consistently produce art. Artist residencies have provided me a supportive and immersive environment to continue my exploration and education. I go into each residency with a the goal of learning new techniques and connecting with other artists from different backgrounds than my own. International residencies are also great opportunities to travel solo.


15194511 1356805634329959 1699581098381566186 o
CANNEO CANÚL (Mexico/USA)
Multidisciplinary Artist
Click for Artist Instagram

What is your artistic practice?
I am a painter, textile artist, and performance artist.

On what projects are you currently working?
Currently, I am working on multiple projects, multiple paintings, and compositions. I consider my work to follow from the central idea behind my performativity, and that is a process of both indigenizing and decolonizing my own epistemology and public point of reference. What I mean by this is that I make daily efforts to educate myself of my own pre-columbian history, and make effort to embody what I have learned as a way of informing, or educating others. One way that I have done this is by indigenizing my name (this is public reference/performativity) which then forces others, to engage with a persistent history through reference. I don't pursue the history of my ancestry or that of the Americas out of a romance for the past, I feel that if that was the case, my efforts would be reduced to a pastiche. Rather, I work in the manner that I do for the sake of remembrance, for those I interact with to remember the genocides, and the epistemicides that founded the present countries of the Americas.

Theres a terrible sense of alienation that exists with those who find themselves strangers in their own lands. I hope through my work to remedy that social injustice, and hope that others that work for social causes do the same.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
There is this one conversation I had with Francisco that still resonates with me. It was one of our last conversations regarding the reading materials. We had just finished reading Ramon Grosfogel’s work, “The Structure of Knowledge in Westernized Universities and the Long 16th Century.” The conversation we had concerning the critical essay ended with Paco asking me, “How do you feel after the reading?” I responded, “Angry.” Francisco then asked me, “What can I do to resolve that anger?” And I responded, “I don't know.” We laughed in that moment, but later that night when I was alone, I cried.

I cried partially out of the frustration of being angry for so long, but also I cried because for some reason, being there in Oaxaca, so close to my ancestry, there was a resolution.

It's easy to look at the world around you and become angry certain cultural dispositions that if certain events had not happened in the past, certain current conflicts or tensions presently would not exist. But I think that this is a fruitless thought to have.

It is more beneficial to look around you and think of ways to rectify what's present, but change first starts within. That comes through education, discussion, and a readiness to learn.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
My practice deepened and extended to further use and talk about textiles not just in terms of “craft” but “art”. There are many false dichotomies that exist within the art world, the distinction between “craft” and “art” is one of them. This distinction is rooted in the eurocentricity of the art world and art market, but with artists mending and blending both worlds together like Nick Cave, Sheila Hicks, and the many artists in the museums of Oaxaca, the thought of textile works as limited to “craft” is changing. And it's certainly less messy to work with in the studio, unlike paint.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
“The residency begins once you leave here.” Those words Francisco said to me often while at Arquetopia, and they are so very true. In my experience the right kind of residency will challenge you, to not just work, but to also cause you to reexamine your work, and by extension, your life. At the time of my residency, I had just graduated from Boston University with my MFA, and had just flown from Finland where I was also an artist in residence. Boston University was challenging in the sense of the eurocentricity and lack of diversity within the program. Finland was cold and often my paints froze. Arquetopia, however, forced me to look within and re-evaluate not just my practice, but the thoughts that fed my actions.

Artists residencies are great experiences, but the right artist residency will impact your life and work in ways that continue to change you long after your stay has ended. I was lucky to find Arquetopia. I havent been the same since.


Anika
ANIKA CARTTERFIELD (USA)
Visual Artist – Sculpture
Click for Artist Website

What is your artistic practice?
I am an artist who creates sculptures that are constructed for and defined by specific architectural and natural sites.

On what projects are you currently working?
I am working to create a body of work that opens critical dialogue about conservation, asking us to consider how we cannot only take from, but also enrich our environment.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
The most influential part of my Arquetopia residency was the support of the academic critique program. Every week Paco and Nayeli met with each resident, providing readings and recommendations around the city that would support their individual project proposal. This personalized support was invaluable to the development of my project; it allowed me to engage with my surroundings in a thorough and insightful way. Working from this foundation, I produced a site-specific piece that fit not only the physicality and aesthetics of Puebla but also its history.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
Now, as I create work in my local community in Upstate NY, I approach each project as an opportunity to develop a deep understanding of the complexities of the place. Currently I am using this method to investigate my local communities relationship with its land.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
The structure I developed at Arquetopia continues to enrich and influence my practice here at home. Artist residencies, like Arquetopia, give artists the opportunity to step outside of their habitual practice, allowing them not only an opportunity to create new work but to create new systems of thinking and creating.


Georgi
GEORGIANNA CHIANG (USA)

Visual Artist – Photography, Painting
Click for Artist Website

What is your artistic practice?
I work in photography, painting, and am now planning on moving into installation or sculpture.

On what projects are you currently working?
I am currently working on creating fictional characters and life narratives of said characters as text (writing) to go along with photo collages made out of photographs I take. It is a sort of portrait that derives from personal experience or inspiration. I am creating multiple worlds and people from my single, personal, direct experiences. This allows me to view and understand my own life experience in a different way, as well as gives me freedom to explore and be adventurous in ways I wouldn't have the courage to in daily life.

I am also working with clothes and objects my mother left behind when she died 2.5 years ago. Can an object ever be neutral? Do peoples' attachments to objects and use of said things give it their energy, purpose? If so, is it then imbued with a person's essence?

What is my relationship to these things, can I re-create meaning from them and extend my mother's history by repurposing and restructuring them, combining my own present story with my mother's? Or did she strip them of her energy when she died? Am I stripping them of her energy by claiming them as my own? Can I ever really claim them as fully my own.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
Wow, every conversation was relevant. Every conversation felt important. Constantly being told to ASK A QUESTION WITH MY ART rather than MAKE A STATEMENT was a very powerful instruction to receive. To constantly bring things back to a very personal level of experience so that I do not run the risk of projecting my beliefs, history, background onto others and falsely represent other people- this allows for freedom, for individual representation, and for more respect for others to speak for themselves. Deconstructing the art world in a way that gave me back my own sense of power, agency, and belief in myself to understand where the power structures are put in place in order to constantly make us feel or act in compulsive, repetitious ways that do not necessarily serve us.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
I am not fooled by art as much anymore. Yes, I see a beautiful piece, but I am no longer spiraled into inferiority due to aesthetics. I always ask more questions now and think critically.

I am not as swayed or convinced by myths or aesthetics. I also expect more of myself which can be challenging. Now, it is hard for me to let myself get away with my own bullshit. At least now, when I am "bullshitting," I know it, and I'm extremely aware.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
Artist residencies, especially ones with faculty and mentors are so important for artists to immerse, strengthen, and really COMMIT to their visions, their artistic growth. International artist residencies are especially important in that they allow artists to understand and critically think about their relationships to places, cultures, and people as a foreigner and as an artist. I wouldn't have developed the level of discipline intelligence, commitment, and pushing of myself in my art practice without my residency time at Arquetopia.


Romina1
ROMINA CHULS (Peru)
Visual Artist – Textiles
Click for Artist Facebook


What is your artistic practice?
My artistic practice varies according to the project although, mainly, I develop in the field of textile art. Thematically, my work revolves around the gender approach, with women and problematic aspects of their Latin American daily life as protagonists.

On what projects are you currently working?
Currently, I am working on a project focused on the Paracas ringed weaving technique that will be exhibited at the San Marcos University Museum in mid-July. I will participate in that show along with two other Peruvian artists, Ivet Salazar and Fiorella Gonzales-Vigil, with whom I created the collective "Contempo [fo] ráneas".

My project focuses on the cultural construction of the body, of bodies. The constitution of women as the other body and the social and political dictates that are built on them. The bodies as territories in constant dispute. I link myself to ecofeminism more directly this time, at the same time that I seek the dissolution of individuality and the rupture of the binomials that govern our corporealities. At the same time, I have been doing three other projects. Each one consists in the repetition of a piece. The first revolves around the Peruvian leader Maria Elena Moyano, whose image I reproduce in various banners with which I intend to make public interventions. The second one is entitled “Recúestate en mi yaya". The proposal comes from the intervention of a wound in my right thigh, wound produced after receiving a pellet fired by the Peruvian police in a peaceful march against the pardon to the former dictator Alberto Fujimori. And the third one I started at the residence of Arquetopia, it is called "Huevona" and it consists of a series of pants intervened with pantyhose used to recreate testicles. For various reasons I still do not concrete it, I keep spinning it over and over again in my head.

That's all I'll say about my work. I hope you follow me to see the results.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
The truth, after all the conversations with Francisco Guevara and Nayeli Hernández I ended in an endless monologue, sometimes becoming existential. The sessions with them served as a shake. They moved my projects from their bases. They reminded me to think about the concepts behind before the image and the materials. And they dissociated me (for a while) from the gender theme, which I manage well, to get closer to class and race structures. I remember a question that until now removes me and I hope someday to solve it: how to portray the class in the body? How to portray a system, which has been linked to the action in the history of its representation, in naked bodies?

We constantly talked about finding the shade for my proposals, about what spaces could I be colonizing and what this meant. They highlighted the importance of the artist's responsibility and I try to remind myself constantly.

Also important was the conversation I had with them about the construction of nation/nationalism and how to displace that imaginary. I remember that they proposed me to turn into a villain some significant Peruvian woman that I admired. Seeing a character from another angle helped me to decipher how the image of a country is built, how we understand the idea of "becoming a country" nowadays and eliminate all myths.

To this I would like to add that my stay in Oaxaca and then in Puebla allowed me to learn a bit about the artistic scene in those regions and to develop in them, at the same time as observing how my projects were understood in a different environment than where I created them. That opportunity seems to me of the utmost importance.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
Uff, what did not change? After the residency I considered the links of the gender, class and race systems within each project. Before I stayed in the gender structure, knowing that there were empty spaces in my proposals. I still do not cure those faults but I fill every time I'm closer to doing it. I understood that each proposal will have a shadow, it is inevitable, but knowing it allows me not to idealize my art and work on developing another alternative in the next piece. I remembered that art consists of asking. So long stuck to a theme, confined in it, had made me forget it and start talking about answers. The residence served as a respite. I was able to stop to reassess my work and that allowed me to come back with some clearer ideas, with new ques- tions and a lot of desire to create.

I had the opportunity to read key texts for the flourishing of my projects.

I see the weak points in proposals of other artists that I previously praised. With the residency I understood the systematic solutions to which, on several occasions, contemporary art resorts.

So, what changed after Arquetopia? Now I question everything (even more than before); I do not let it limit me but motivate me.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
The residency at Arquetopia was like an intensive course on intersectional feminism in art and in my artis- tic practice. Being in Mexico, I approached a new context and I could observe how my work developed in him. I think that only that idea shows the importance of residences within the artistic practice. To leave your environment and to be artistically involved with another reality is necessary to grow as an artist. One must leave the personal numbness in which it is sometimes enclosed to deal directly with other realities. In addition, it means knowing the cultural scene of another locality. The change, the detachment from what is known as an artist is basic to my development.

The residences give you the opportunity to concentrate on nurturing yourself, on learning, free of other distractions. Arquetopia gave me the opportunity to study, to lose myself in texts, reading hours to return to the concepts that motivated me and to reassess my perspectives. Thus, artistic residencies function, in my opinion, as bubbles that give me a space of creation that I can not obtain in my daily life but at the same time serve as ideological expanders and triggers of personal change. They are spaces for exploration and immersion. All this in intensive programs of short or long term.

According to the residence, it is possible to specialize in the field of your interest as an artist, without the need to resort to an academic institution. I think they are basic for the art world.


MattCouper
MATTHEW COUPER (New Zealand/USA)
Visual Artist – Painting, Performance
Click for Artist Website

What is your artistic practice?
Primarily painting as main artistic practice, but also performance.

On what projects are you currently working?
New paintings for a group exhibition and art fair in New Zealand next year. I’m just about to leave the USA for a month to attend a group exhibition I’m part of – ‘Zoocryptage’ at Crypte Saint Eugiene in Biarritz, France and I’ll be artist in residence at Arthémuse in Normandie, France.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
They were all relevant! I think the best aspect of the conversations was getting a range of answers about the history of Puebla and cultural vagaries that helped me to start developing an understanding of the area and history.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
My time at Arquetopia really piqued my fascination with Mexico and I really want to return and explore more cities! I’m actually still processing a lot of the things I learnt at Arquetopia and researched in Puebla and Mexico City.

How are 
artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
Very. From a pragmatic viewpoint, they allow for a concentrated continuity of time to work on your art. Context and location is important too. Being in a new city or country sometimes throws a spanner in the works of your practice and makes you re evaluate your work. It can feed in new information you may not be able to respond to in your own studio context. Being around other artists is also a great time. You get to compare your art, processes and thoughts regarding your art and life in a safe environment.


selfportraitA

MARK DE FRAEYE (Belgium)
Visual Artist – Photography
Three-Time Arquetopia Artist-in-Residence, Puebla & Cusco
Two-Time Arquetopia Showcase Solo Exhibitor
What is your artistic practice?
Concerned photographer (autonomous photography and visual ethnology).

On what projects are you currently working?
The world is my language,” museum archival black and white silver gelatin prints (Korea/Mexico); narrative photography. “The photographic chemical process reveals a meditative artwork,” digital scans printed on Chromaluxe support; autonomous photography. -EUROPALIA Indonesia, exhibitions “Nusa Tengara” Liège and “Ancestors & Rituals” Brussels; visual ethnology (documentary photography).

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
The “decisive” moment with Francisco Guevara pointing out the title and statement (El proceso de la memoria) of my exhibition at Fototeca J.C. Mendez, Puebla.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
Obtaining clear eyes and mind (emptiness) on my artistic career (concerned photographer). Photography listens, someone who cannot listen to a photograph is blind (narrative photography). The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.’ – Marcel Proust (cf. visual ethnology).

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
As an “eye” opener (catcher) on the personal (your own) artistic practice. An unconditional research… Viva Arquetopia!!!

Dobler Priscilla4
PRISCILLA DOBLER (Mexico/USA)
Visual Artist – Mixed Media
Arquetopia 2019 Residency Scholarship Award Recipient
Arquetopia International Mentorship Program
 Award Recipient
Click for Artist Website


What is your artistic practice?
I am multimedia artist. I do a little of everything. I am currently working on a series of woven paintings based on the layering of images from different cultures that have influence Mexican art-identity. In addition, I am also weaving cotton thread panels called Fallas en la Infraestructura.

On what projects are you currently working?
I am currently working on a series of woven paintings based on the layering of images from different cultures that have influenced Mexican art-identity. In addition, I am also weaving cotton thread panels called Fallas en la Infraestructura.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
All of my conversations with Francisco Guevara at Arquetopia were mind blowing. He has so much knowledge on the political and social structures of gender and imagery. I have always been interested in the representation of images and where they come from. One of my most relevant conversations with Francisco dealt with how the same imagery is used to represents gender, race and social class. As a female artist of color, you have to challenge the existing notations and preconditions of the exotic and seductive representation of Mexican women, to create a new image that not only represents yourself but the systematic colonization of cultures and influences of those cultures that represent who you are. It’s too simple to re-create an image that already exists and we are precondition to understand that image. I want the viewer to spend more time analyzing the layers in my paintings rather then just saying that’s a cool painting.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
The way I view art changed the most. Especially in figurative paintings and how individuals are represented in those paintings. I have a great desire to continue researching and exploring different processes of creating art.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
Artist residencies are very important to the artistic practice because they allow the artist the opportunity to play and discover new techniques. In addition, an art residency like Arquetopia, will challenge you to rethink of the process and provide the tools in research to increase your understanding of art, history and social structures.

[photo]
EMILY DONOVAN (USA)
Multidisciplinary Artist
Click for Artist Website

What is your artistic practice?
I am a painter and multi-media artist who explores color including natural pigments and plant-based materials.

On what projects are you currently working?
I am preparing a show that includes paintings created during my residency called Practical Source. The exhibit opening in late April at the Edina Art Center reflects on what I learned about natural color and includes ideas about different engineering systems that supply natural resources, i.e. water, electricity and how they vary and influences habits of everyday life.  

I am also a recipient of a 2019 Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant and am beginning a new body of work called Migration and Motion that looks at human interaction and patterns of migration of birds in Minnesota.  In this project, I will continue my exploration of natural pigments and color and I am partnering with area birders, neighbors and the local Audubon chapter to share their stories of migration visually.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
Arquetopia supplied so much insight about during my residency and afterwards, especially as I continued to travel in Cusco and within the Sacred Valley. Discussion art, literature and the readings we were assigned provided rich discussions with the other artists as we found something that related to each others work and interests. Specifically, I had the best conversations with the artists and Astrid about color and the use of natural dyes. Everyone loved to join in and help with foraging and finding the plants and materials we used and what they colors we could make.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
I’ve a noted a different approach to my work and habits in my life after returning home. I find that there is certain ease to everyday life, especially in the US that I in many ways took for granted. A have a more mindful approach to my water use, electricity and the things I own or buy.  My studio is huge, bright and sunny and I have many resources are available to me and ready to purchase, but so different than how I made work in Urubamba. I think of the trips in the collectivo with Astrid to find Cochinilla or paper in Cusco and the time and effort and time it took to find things, reminding me to remember what I have is valuable and precious. I am more careful about what I have and how I use it.

I also think about color in a new way with additional meaning that includes rich tones, smells and adventures. Color now holds stories and history for me from Maria’s instruction and the insightful readings provided by Arquetopia. I think of green as chill'ka and large pots of boiling greens and red as cochinilla, remembering the wonderful neighbors in Urubamba that helped me find the insects fresh when I was unable to find the store in Cusco. I look at the variety of tones I created and their vibrancy and I remember Maria’s instructions, our way of communicating without a common language, sitting on the floor while smashing plants with rocks and the results of color she made look so easy from generations of knowledge. I look forward to using these skills and knowledge in my future work.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
Changing your environment and comfort zone provides a new test for your work. It makes you diverge from your normal, comfortable or trained practice and forces confrontation about what and why you are doing things. For myself, it made me face what is easy about the way I make work and challenged me too look at new solutions and ideas about what I want to create, why and the message I want my work to convey.


Laura Drey 2
LAURA DREY (USA)
Multidisciplinary Artist
Arquetopia 2020 Residency Scholarship Award Recipient
Click for Artist Website


What is your artistic practice?
My artistic practice is interdisciplinary.

On what projects are you currently working?
I’m currently working on a couple of things—Primarily, a creative writing project. Secondarily, a sculptural/installation piece that incorporates hand made papers and back-strap-loom weaving techniques that I learned while in Oaxaca.

My primary project is a creative writing project that is funded by The Idea Fund, a re-granting program administered by DiverseWorks, Aurora Picture Show, and Project Row Houses and funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

With this project, I have been able to travel and immerse myself into the Texas border towns that make up the Rio Grande Valley. These towns were navigational stopping points for my ancestors as they migrated to the United States from Mexico. With this gained experience I am producing a vignette of short stories and poetry that reveal cross-generational ways of belonging in the world as I draw from the experiences of my grandmother, my mother, my daughters, and myself. The work speaks to the complexities of migration, focusing on the nuances of personal and cultural identities as they intersect with themes of geography and government, labor and movement, economics and culture. There is to be a public reading and performance of the work to share with the larger community.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
I remember Francisco often saying The residency begins once you leave here and I wholeheartedly agree with him. It's the residency that keeps on giving and giving. All that I've experienced through my time in Oaxaca has been profound. There was relevancy in everyday encounters and conversations with the fellow residents, instructors, staff, and the community. Everyone coming from different points and sharing their perspectives and experiences in life was an invaluable source of shared knowledge and information. The readings and discussions regarding the politics of race, class, and gender were particularly insightful and significant.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
A greater appreciation for Mexican art history and the deepened awareness of its complex histories that are apart of my cultural heritage and the role I have in its livelihood. The stress-free and low key technology-based environment influenced my practice as it helped me adopt a more solitary and organic approach to working.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
The immersive environment is vitally important to an artist’s practice. It allows one a safe place to explore and build a deepened understanding of self-questioning, exploring intuition, navigating spaces and new places, creating new relationships and connections.


VeraF
VERA FAINSHTEIN (Ukraine/USA)

Multidisciplinary Artist
Arquetopia 2020 Residency Scholarship Award Recipient
Artist Website Currently Under Construction

What is your artistic practice?
Experimentation and the use of digital technologies is a big part of my creative process. My main area of specialization is interactive large-scale video installations. I also have background in academic drawing and painting as well as graphic design. Unlike my digital work, which is very research-based and concept-driven, my drawings and paintings are more observational.

On what projects are you currently working?
During my artist residency, I started a series of watercolor paintings, which consisted of symbolic still-lives celebrating the rich traditions and cultural heritage of Mexico. I wasn’t very happy with the direction that the work was taking. The readings, educational field trips and the critiques, which were a big part of the residency experience, has helped me to move away from observational, realistic painting to a more conceptual approach to making art.

I am currently working on a project, which I started towards the end of the residency. The artwork is an interactive sculpture, consisting of several overlapping acrylic circles. Each circle features information and imagery related to popular objects often associated with the Mexican culture: a piñata, a sombrero, and others. While rotating the circles, the viewers will be able to uncover unique historical facts about the objects that they initially thought they were familiar with. My hope is that the educational component of the piece, will give the audience a better insight into Mexican traditions, history and culture, which is very rich and complex at the same time. I am learning laser cutting and engraving techniques in order to complete the artwork.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
It’s hard to pick just one conversation or experience that was relevant because all parts of the residency were very meaningful to me: from the readings to the painting workshops to the critiques. I found the critiques, reading discussions and conversations with fellow artists to be especially valuable because they helped me to look at my artistic practice from a different angle and more critically. Phrasing work as a question, rather than a statement was one of the many indispensable suggestions that I received.

What changed after the residency at Arquetopia?
The international artist residency at Arquetopia gave me a better insight into the art of the colonial period as well as modern Mexican art. I really enjoyed the readings and the critical approach to art, which was emphasized during the program. It made me question the Western approach to art and introduced me to a different perspective/ a way of looking. Looking at the power distribution as it relates to art, the carefully crafted iconography and the color symbolism in colonial Mexican painting was an eye opening experience. The painting workshops, led by two professional local restorers, Lupe and Memo, were also extremely valuable, as they introduced us to the pre-columbian mural painting techniques, the novohispanic oil painting, and the history of the cochineal red. I have recently purchased the cochineal and is looking forward to experimenting with it further.

I teach graphic design at a community college in the San Francisco Bay Area. When I came back to the United States, I was very excited to share some of my experience and the new things that I learned at Arquetopia with my students. I updated the curriculum in order to place more emphasis on the social and cultural connotations of color. For example, in some of my courses, we looked at the history of the cochineal and discussed art as propaganda (specifically the use of religious iconography and color in colonial painting).

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
The residency at Arquetopia was my first artist residency experience, and I could have not picked a better place to learn about Mexican history and art. The residency not only gave me a different outlook on art, but also helped me to approach my artistic practice more critically. Being able to receive honest feedback about my work was important for me. Seeing the work of other artists who were part of the program, was very inspirational. The residency provided a safe space for discussion and the exchange of ideas. It was kind of like a mini grad school experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

MaddieF
MADELINE FISCHER (USA)

Visual Artist & Comedian
Click for Artist Website


What is your artistic practice?
I make acrylic and multimedia paintings and drawings.

On what projects are you currently working?
I am currently working on producing an interactive painting show in New York with my friend and collaborator, Marissa Crider.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
There were so many important and relevant conversations I had at Arquetopia that really shaped my artistic practice. I think something that keeps echoing in my head whenever I sit down to work is a conversation I had with Francisco. We talked a lot about how representations of the figure are inherently problematic. They can uphold and celebrate dominant culture and powerful bodies in ways that the artist may not be aware of. Francisco and I would sit down with my paintings and he would point out specific strokes and marks I made and would ask "why did you do that" "why those colors" "why that stroke" "why that shape". Those conversations challenged my practice in such transformative ways. I'll never think of my painting practice in the same way.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
I think I have turned away from bodies and figures and more toward abstract compositions, focusing on colors and form. It also changed the way I think about my work and what I'm trying to communicate with my paintings.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
For me, the residency was so important to be able to have the space to explore and experiment within a structure. Arquetopia also stands out because it doesn't let you aimlessly create, it is rigorous in the questions it makes you ask and accompanying academic material you're expected to read. My paintings will never be the same after Arquetopia, and I am so grateful for my experience there.

SarahG
SARAH GALARNEAU (Canada)
Visual Artist – Printmaking
Two-Time Arquetopia Artist-in-Residence, Puebla
Arquetopia 2018 & 2020 Residency Scholarship Award Recipient
What is your artistic practice?
My artistic practice mostly consists of printmaking and bookbinding, but I also do painting and drawing.

On what projects are you currently working?
I’m not currently working on a specific project, but I have several ideas brewing. I would like to make more print-based wall installations inspired by nature and vegetation, which would continue a phase in my work that I started while at Arquetopia.

What is the most relevant conversatio
n that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
I wouldn’t say that one particular conversation was the most relevant to me. In retrospect, what feels most relevant is the accumulation of experience, from the small interactions to the longer conversations, especially with the four fantastic female artists that I met there.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia? 
Arquetopia was my first solo artist residency, and felt like a big step for my art career. I completed a project that I was very satisfied with, and therefore felt confident presenting it in applications. The pieces I worked on while in Puebla are currently being shown at a printmaking biennale (Biennale Internationale d’Estampe Contemporaine de Trois-Rivières, or BIECTR) in my home province of Quebec, Canada. Additionally, I won a prize at the Biennale (Prix Tele-Quebec). I’ve felt very honoured and grateful to receive this recognition, which wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been an artist-in-residence at Arquetopia.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
Residencies provide artists with the time and space to create, but specifically different space, and sometimes your sense of time can be different too. These aspects can be both inspiring and motivating. Both Puebla and Mexico were new places to me, so I was constantly in a state of discovery, a state of being that I feel is not only relevant to my own art, but also to the act of art-making in general.
Michael Gallagher 2
MICHAEL GALLAGHER (USA)
Writer and Poet
Click for Writer Website

What is your artistic practice?
I am a poet from Oakland, California.


On what projects are you currently working?
I am currently working on a project that involves decentralized philosophy and bold, graphic images of poems I wrote. The Idea is to take poetry off the page in terms of visual experience. Eventually, I would like to have public displays and street art campaigns with these images.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
I think the most relevant conversation I had at Arquetopia involved subject matter and voyeurism. As a poet who regularly writes from direct experience and observation, the complicated conversations based around who I was depicting in my work was really important to me. The questions of subject matter allowed my work to become more complex and unsure of itself, which was probably one of the best things for it at the time because it allowed me to grow in new ways.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
After the residency at Arquetopia I felt a renewed sense of reflection. My work is a bit more naked, a bit more raw and unprocessed. As a poet, it feels amazing to get to the core of my feelings. Arquetopia helped me navigate those inner workings in a way that a poetry workshop in the United States has never done. I felt smaller than I once did - which was actually a really positive thing to experience. My ego was reduced and with its reduction came an expansion of consciousness that stuck with my heart and ultimately rewarded my artistic practice.


How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
Artist residencies are vital to long-term development of artistic practice. Staying in the same pattern-driven society and trying to experience new ideas can be very tricky. We often find ourselves reproducing the same type of piece over and over again. But once you break out of your artistic bubble and see a different path you realize that the challenges of changing yourself and your work are only for the better. Residencies give us space to evolve.


Samar1 2
SAMAR HEJAZI (Palestine/Canada)
Interdisciplinary Artist
Three-Time Arquetopia Artist-in-Residence, Oaxaca – Peru – Puebla
Arquetopia 2019 Residency Scholarship Award Recipient
Arquetopia International Mentorship Program Award Recipient

Click for Artist Website

What is your artistic practice?
I am an interdisciplinary artist. As a trilingual woman of Palestinian descent, born in the US and raised in diverse communities in the Middle East and Canada, I use my art to question ideas surrounding identity.

Through meditations on traditional practices and my present environments, my work merges eastern and western styles to express how the crossing of cultures can form new identities. My choice in medium follows the conceptual needs of the piece which has primarily been embroidery, but also includes works on paper and new media. 

The cross stitch embroidery technique is a way of honouring tradition. Both the female and Arab elements of this practice share a similar need for dialogue that I am interested in bringing to the forefront of conversation.

On what projects are you currently working?
I am currently working on two projects: and installation and an abstract embroidery series.

The idea of the installation is to simulate the internal experience of the Arab diaspora living in the west through the appropriation of the English language. The piece involves a combination of typographical artworks spanning across paper, embroidery, soundscapes and video of the anthem Mawtini (homeland), an Arabic song by Palestinian poet Ibrahim Touqan.

The second project is a series of embroidery pieces inspired by abstract painting that merge traditional Palestinian embroidery techniques and contemporary abstract paintings from the west. The resulting series will be small monochrome embroidery pieces that attempt to push the already innate qualities of textile while maintaining the compositional and emotional aspects of an abstract painting.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
The first meeting I had with Francisco and Nayeli set the trajectory for the rest of my month there. We were discussing one of the readings concerning the "performance" aspect of art making and the "shadow" the artist casts on it. To say I didn't understand what I had read would be an understatement, so when Francesco asked me what I thought my shadow was I had nothing of substance to say. After that meeting I made sure to reflect on the mental, energetic and physical experience that I was having while embroidering and pushed myself to question the experiences. I examined my internal narratives as well as the cultural and societal conflicts I embodied concerning the craft. This lead to the development of the theme of my new art practice, the formation of identity in diaspora.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
My process of making became more confident and fluid. I learnt to be the observer of my creation and to trust in the direction it is going in. The practice of embroidery taught me patience and presence and the guidance of F and N helped in the evolution of my perception an analysis of art.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
Residencies take artists out of their comfort zones and into spaces that require them to transform in order to adapt. This transformation creates shifts in creative, behavioural and mental patterns which in turn allows for new patterns to flourish. In my opinion, art residencies work as catalysts in the evolution of an art practice.


Miguel Keerveld PHOTO Ada Korbee
MIGUEL KEERVELD / TUMPI FLOW (Suriname)
Visual Artist & Activist
Two-Time Arquetopia Artist-in-Residence, Puebla
Arquetopia 2019 Residency Scholarship Award Recipient
Arquetopia International Mentorship Program
Award Recipient
Click for Artist Website


What is your artistic practice?
I use the arts as the most important tool to mentor and empowerment both young and old children. Through art installations I collaborate with others and creative writing give me the opportunity to have conversations based on my interest in activism.

On what projects are you currently working?
My current focus is on I KROYWARA I, a psychological experiment in which I reflect on violence in such a way that it transforms into strength. This concept represents my conviction that one can act in such a way that others are given room to grow. The double "I" refers to synergy when an Individual has collaboration with other Individuals. All projects that are part of this concept are based on the philosophy "When I walk with you, you walk with I" and some highlights are a mentoring project named MISSION 21: Hand in hand into active participation, where teenagers and emerging artists interact, to focus on discussions of problematic issues within the Surinamese society. In this project the arts are used for the difficult conversation, to stimulate participation through the right on freedom of expression, and to invest in building a resilient communities.

Writing a theater trilogy about the rebirth of leadership in Suriname based on the 21st century violence and value named KROYWARA is about a fabricated phenomenon that reflects a psychological state in which religion, politics and ethnicity are problematic. This story displays the transformation of souls through life, death and rebirth. Issues within our approach of class in society lead us into a catharsis, the so called kroywara state, that is a necessity for the adolescence of Surinamese. This name is one of many, used by several ethnical groups in Suriname for the process wherein woodpiles of insufficiently burned tree trunks and branches are further burned as preparation for planting.

I am trying to take part in the third cohort of the Nomad9 MFA program at Hartford Art School, that will start in June this year. I believe that this program will provide my work as a coach and my art practice to extend it in such a way that I can become a more aware as a teacher and have more effective impacts.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
As the most relevant conversation at Arquetopia, I refer to my third week individual critique, with Francisco Guevara on how ‘existential is emotional’ in relation to the seminar of Annette Rodríguez about ‘capital and distinction.  The interaction of both conversations gave me the opportunity to reflect and move from questioning my identity to questions based on subjectivity. This was a confrontation with deep frustrations and stillness that is helping me to decenter myself from my work.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
Agency has become my approach since I have experience the residency. I have decided to use painting, that has led my internal dialogues for over a decade, as a tool for coaching. I became more confident to focus on art installations and with creative writing. For my personal context I have decided to be involved in the LGBT community, something I did not value before. I have also decided to re-evaluate the use of material in my art practice with questions such as ‘What choice of material can develop my art practice and contribute to the discussion of problems in such a way that my work can participate in international dialogues, while at the same time it is also being understood in Surinamese?’ I consider to use clothes as a relevant part of art works where I am involved with, and to add value to the context of my work. Clothes carry a history with themselves and can serve pre-eminently for the expansion and playing with stereo types.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
Residencies provide artists the opportunity to broaden their horizon through confrontation with new perspectives. Encounters with others and with new artforms, force artists to look at their work from multiple angles. Residencies also provide more relevant reflection and/or self-critique. I believe that different conversations add value to the needs of one’s art practice, because professionals that doesn’t know the artist’s work, can provide a more open-minded view and challenge the context. This way a participant of residencies like Arquetopia’s discovers the unknown and maybe hidden strengths of their work.


Elizabeth Kirschner 1
ELIZABETH KIRSCHNER (USA)
Poet and Nonfiction Writer
Arquetopia 2020 Residency Scholarship Award Recipient
Click for Writer Website

What is your artistic practice?
While in residence, I continued to compose poems, but with a difference. The new poems were profoundly influenced by the deeply intelligent beauty of the Peruvian landscape. The immediacy of this landscape, which was right outside my window, brought me to my knees.

Compelling, extraordinary, this sense of place, which wrought a new identity, felt more intimate than the one that surrounds my own home, a landscape informed by water and my now dormant gardens.

On what projects are you currently working?
Since my return to Maine, I have continued to write, and more importantly, revise the poems I began when at Arquetopia. When the weather allowed, I wrote outside, thereby breathing the very tissue of the landscape I wished to ground my work in. These poems hint at a landscape I consider sacred, one that is now my dreamscape.

The poems, and this is quite significant, were also influenced by the readings that were assigned to me. I have always felt that one cannot write without reading, i.e., creating in a vacuum is a sure way to flatten the work. Since the readings I was assigned schooled me in many aspects of the culture I was living in, and I do mean “culture” in every aspect of the word, a heightened knowledge surrounded every line in every poem.

The project, then, is to construct a full-length collection of poems, poems that will align with the multiple landscapes that layer my inmost being—foremost, the Peruvian one, secondarily, the one I’ve been acquainted with for many years. However, my sense of landscape goes far beyond the physical plain. The readings underscored this. My hope, then, is to write a book that encompasses the richness that always exist outside the reach of landscape.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
I can’t single out one conversation as having more relevance than any other. The weekly phone meetings, a discipline not present at most residencies, became the means to highlight the pertinence of the readings I delved into wholeheartedly. I loved the process of taking notes and marking passages of import to me as a writer, an intellect and an ordinary human being.

I easily embraced the notion that poetry and art are considered ecstatic gifts of the gods, a belief I’ve cleaved to since I first started writing poems at age nineteen. I noted how “The Flower Songs” stay close to the patterns of speech, using, freely, parallel forms, repetition of ideas with a tendency to speak in metaphors. Synonyms and antonyms were also employed, making the poetic variety almost Whitmanesque. All this is applicable to the writing of contemporary poetry.

I learned that the “Sacred Tongue” once existed for the ruling class, but was entirely lost in the Spanish conquest and that what remains is an “ever-present shadow.” Might this be compared to a mute echo, one that reflects or suggests the organic force of magic and metaphorical thinking representative of a “lost verbal paradise.

Is the idea of a “Sacred Tongue” a mythical projection? I think not. I could quite literally feel how, at the heart of this system, is the silence of the word, a silence I believe carries over all centuries and languages, for this silence is the precursor for all writing of poetry. It is universal, profound and inexpressible.

I also learned that the Inca language is short of words. Because of its compression, a compression necessary to all poetry, the language is rendered untranslatable. This, too, correlates with the conundrum of the poem—the paradox is that the poem, any poem, can’t be written in any other way, hence its mystery is untranslatable.

I became acquainted with the word, “huacanqui”—“thou shalt mourn.” As well, I came to understand that “huaca” is a spiraling force that designates all things marked by nature as outstanding, be it the excellences of beauty, or its contrary, the excellences of monstrosity.

If at the center of all meaning and being lies the “Sacred Tongue,” then the loss of the tongue is the sign, in Garcilasco’s mind, of exile from all cultural inheritance. This loss is is devastation, a scar, one that is permanent and irrevocable.

Landscape, therefore, is necessarily viewed as “authored,” first as a way of seeing the external world, which in turn promoted a sense of dominance acquired via Euclidian geometry—aptly viewed as “linear perspective.” In literature, this perspective can be seen as “point of view,” as a parallel is constructed between inner logic and the “literally visible.” Such perspective is represented in not only literature, but painting and garden design.

Such “seeing” is limited, or so I believe. Any mode of vision that promotes dominance over the sacredness of earth is destructive. The faultiness of this logic was, for me, underscored in “The Structure of Knowledge,” where Descartes’ basic maxim, “I think therefore I am” was gradually distorted into statements that had not only genocidal ramifications, but worse, genocidal authority.

When “I think, therefore I am” was translated into “I conquer, therefore I am,” and then, eventually, into the even more terrifying, “I exterminate, therefore I am,” the world stage became radically changed. Permission was granted to assess humans in diminishing, damaging ways, ways that eliminated the soul and permitted wide scale extermination. The enthusiastic extermination of indigenous peoples was coupled with the even more enthusiastic extermination of their knowledge, an irreplaceable loss.

At the center of all this mass destruction was the feeble belief that the supremacy of the “I,” or ego, was more powerful than the God it diminished, hence violence became a practice carried out with an almost religious fervor. Such a practice is war. When war becomes a sacred way of comporting oneself in the world, not only are whole peoples destroyed, so is their art.

Restoration becomes possible only when a radical return to the belief that earth is more sacred than those of us who populate it. This entails a suppression of ego. If we embrace the Keatsian notion of “Negative Capability,” wherein self must be subdued and transported into “otherness”—i.e., a tree, rock or another human being such that its essence can be intuited, then we are back on a spiritual path.

Recovery occurs when the sacred exceeds the profane, when what was lost becomes of more import than dominance. Art is not crafted by will, or ego, it is, at best, a partial expression of the inexpressible, hence the poem can only be viewed as “partial.”

When ideas of pluralism transcend the individual, when the experiences, thoughts and prayers off ALL people are, once again, embraced within the landscape, then hope can burgeon. When the artist seeks to express the multitudinous of not just the human, but the sanctity of all sentient beings, then the soul can be put back into the whole of life. This is a start, one that is not only credible, but admirable.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
To this question, I can succinctly reply, “everything.” Replenished, or rekindled, my thirst for knowledge. Replenished, my love of the earth as a sacred entity. Awe has been restored in complex ways. My capacity to “see,” essential to any artist, has expanded beyond the physical boundaries of time and space. I feel less “American,” and more a citizen of the world, but even the word “world” feels limited, somehow consigned to the commercial, which is such an utterly American concept. My desire to “travel” in literal and metaphorical ways has been renewed.

Writing, is in some ways, a means to travel, to experience “otherness,” which I believe is fundamental to even the smallest construct of humanity. What has shifted is my inner backdrop, my capacity to “sit in stillness,” and experience Keatsian uncertainties without reaching for truths so flimsy they’d collapse, like a house of cards. To be vulnerable, to attempt to achieve a pure state of consciousness, this is necessary if art is to made.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
One of the most commendable aspects of the residency experience is its ability to abolish the isolation of the individual artist. The “isolation” of any artist can lead to limited vision, which, in turn, limits the work.

Being brought into a community of other artists challenged my vision in healthy, productive ways. Conversing with my two fellow residents, whose disciplines were other than my own, had a powerful effect on how I viewed my own writing. This was and is transformative.

How Emily and Annie went about the creation of their work influenced the creation of my own. One image I’ve yet to wrangle into a poem is that of Maria, who when we attended the festival in Chincero, walked and spun wool at the same time. In my eye, the spindle, which was in constant motion, was akin to the priest’s censer. This conjured religious significance for me—not in a singular way, but a universal one.

This gesture toward the universal feels essential to me. When in the confines of one’s home, one’s nation, one’s landscape, the universal can easily be lost, subsumed, buried. Living in an artist residency is a primary means of unearthing layers of consciousness one’s daily life can suppress.

Being thrust, willingly, into a world other than one’s one, living, in community, with other artists is uniquely restorative. Recreating vision from the ground up is what the residency experience affords. What made Arquetopia particularly outstanding was/is its insistence on intellectual rigor. How can intellectual rigor not lead to artistic rigor? When the individual artist raises his her own standards as the result of this rigor, then new worlds, indeed, are bound to unfold.


PK
PENNY KLEIN (United Kingdom)
Visual Artist & Musician
Two-Time Arquetopia Artist-in-Residence, Puebla & Cusco
Arquetopia 2018 Residency Scholarship Award Recipient
Click for Artist Blog 


What is your artistic practice?
I am an artist and musician currently based in London.

On what projects are you currently working?
I am involved in a few different projects at the moment. Most recently I’ve just finished a short residency in South Pembrokeshire, Wales. Leaning into the idea of the visiting artist, and their (sometimes) problematic involvement with short term, community related art, I was interested in the expectations and perceptions of a new place in such limited time. A meditation on the needy artist, I placed ads in the local paper, in shop windows and online for local residents to take me on a walk and show me their favourite place. I documented my side of everything, from the agonising process of wording the poster, to the communication with the venue, my anticipation of the meetings, worries about weather, the responses I received and any antagonisms along the way. I went on daily walks with a different person and reflected on these encounters, the shifting impressions I was having as well as the difficulty of translating the intimacy of these experiences. The residency culminated in a performative show and tell, which wove together my introspections with work I made in response to the walks. Music, short films, and story telling offered a revealing self-exposé as a gesture of gratitude to everyone who had helped.

I organise and coordinate a platform called the Surround with musician Rose Dagul. We host a regular, nomadic DIY event for musicians and performers to come together and test out new ideas in London. It’s a constant motivator to perform and create new work ourselves and provides a solid framework for proj- ects with other artists and musicians locally. As a platform we also compile music compilations of every- one’s work when we can, and are working on self publishing and releasing our own music, bypassing some of the more established routes and taking everything into our own hands as much as we can.

I’m also working on an ongoing personal project, spanning performance, illustration and the written word, examining the perception of our bodies while experiencing ill health. I am currently preparing a musical and choreographed performance that explores the shifting relationship I have had with my body after it stopped behaving quite in the way it used to, following a parasitic invasion. Thinking about change, mystery, blame, anxiety, fear of chronic illness, symptoms ‘being in the mind’ and the fragile ecosystem that sits inside of us, the work is a playful meditation on losing control and what it takes to claw it back.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
I think the most significant challenge I got was very early on and regarding my role as the observer. I had proposed a project that would involve me doing a lot of observational drawing, and I was made to look at what it means to be the invisible observer, and the role of scribe within colonial history. It made me thinking about ways to confront my own presence in public space, rather than hiding behind it, and consider the connotations of the all-seeing onlookers touched on above, this idea of the observer and their assumed invisibility is something I think about a lot. It took me a little while to return to observational drawing, but as I do I am so much more aware of the editing decisions, both in terms of setting myself up in a situation and also the process itself.

I also started to question more generally my emphasis on aesthetic and to feel liberated from the ‘page’.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
I had started to confuse the potential to deconstruct with something that could only happen on paper, within an image, and was reminded of physical intervention as a tool, and public space as a stage.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
They are so vital! A good residency provides the space and time to explore something in depth and follow tangents without constraint. I wouldn’t say they are free of distractions exactly, but they are free of our usual distractions. They declutter our routine which means we can really engage in our surroundings and be sensitive to new or alternative ways of doing things. They can provide really useful interruptions to the way we think.
taylor
TAYLOR LEE (USA)

Visual Artist – Painting
Click for Artist Website


What is your artistic practice?
I am a painter (mostly abstract/floral at the moment).

On what projects are you currently working?
I am currently exploring the nature of those living with mental illness (including myself) through abstract floral paintings. I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this, so I'm trying to keep an open mind to the process. I feel compelled to make statements with this work, but I'm trying my best to focus more on the questions.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
There were so so many! One of the conversations that impacted me the most was during a critique. We talked about how when we create art it becomes text, and that if our art is not asking questions it is telling our audience something, and sometimes that thing may not be our intention. I created self-portraits during my residency in an effort to express my own problems with self-image, but what I mistakenly did was say that everyone who looked like me was ugly. I wasn't asking questions, I was telling other women like me that they were not beautiful. This is why, in my current work, I am trying to figure out how to ask questions: I am handling the topic of mental illness and I don't want to make unintentional statements.

What changed after the residency at Arquetopia?
I realized the importance of intention in our artwork as well as the importance of decentering ourselves. I still really struggle with the later, but I'm working toward creating work that isn't for me. My work used to be all about beauty because I didn't think it was worthy without being beautiful and perfect (a lot like the beliefs I had about myself). Now, I trust that in the specific lies the universal, so though I do use my own experiences as inspiration, I try my best to make art for others and to use it to ask questions about instead of simply making statements. It's difficult, and I know that I have a lot more growing to do in that practice, but I always hold intention in my mind when I'm working ever since learning its importance at Arquetopia.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
They give you an opportunity for incubation. In your normal world there is so much distraction and a lot of influences. I highly recommend that every artist try a residency at some point. You need that time where you are focused on one project and even your time outside the studio is filled with activities like visiting the museum and reading about gender in art history. It's like planting a seed and watering it so that when you leave the residency you can grow and bloom. For me, my residency at Arquetopia transformed me from a hobbyist to an artist. Before coming to Puebla I had no idea what I wanted to do, but while I was there I was able to focus and understand how important a role artists play in the world. Residencies also teach you how to research and enrich your artwork with discussion and reading. I used to approach art much more intuitively, but was never really saying anything of substance.

Schedel Luitjen 2
SCHEDEL LUITJEN (USA)

Multidisciplinary Artist, Writer, Actor
Click for Artist Website


What is your artistic practice?
I make comics, plays, toys, short stories, and movies. Since 1999, most of my work has revolved around the universe of a superhero called Hero BLOB, who can turn into any liquid.

On what projects are you currently working?
I'm working on a series of comic and short story reworkings of some early work with Hero BLOB for the 20th anniversary this year. In connection with that, I'm creating a few foam hand puppets to do a short film series featuring Chilipepperman and Hag Lady Bobo, recurring characters in my work.

At the same time, I am continuing a watercolor series illustrating some of my short stories. Hopefully I’ll be getting them out in the form of a zine in the next month or two.

I'm also co-writing an adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing for a mixed special needs and typical cast, which is going to premiere at the ultra-accessible theme park Morgan's Wonderland in San Antonio later this year.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
During the residency, we were exposed to a lot of different essays and readings, and the discussions with the Arquetopia staff were more challenging and exciting than I had expected before coming to Puebla. I can be really opinionated when I approach a piece, and I came to the meetings generally ready for a mental wrestling match worthy of Arena Puebla, the lucha arena in town. More often than not, though, I found that my opinions were acknowledged and instead of meeting resistance, I was shown down completely unexpected paths of thought.

I went to school for Classics and theology, so I really don’t have a lot of background with modern history and social issues, and every week was eye-opening and sparked further explorations in a dozen directions-- luckily, the people at Arquetopia had resources and knowledge of where to look to find more information in all the things I was interested in.

It’s difficult to choose a most important conversation; these talks were really full of interesting ideas and challenging concepts that had a cumulative effect on my thought generally. One thing sticks out though, which is probably far from being the most profound or wildly interesting moment of the residency, but affected my own thought more personally and starkly than any other conversation with staff or my fellow residents.

During one meeting with Francisco and Nayeli, I was airing my worries at feeling directionless at home in the States, in spite of doing more and better-quality work than at any other time in the past. Without missing a beat, Francisco said something along the lines of, “Of course you feel that way; you’re not fulfilling your place in the Capitalist system.”

It just kind of flowed out as if it were really simple and obvious (which maybe it is), but it struck me and has stayed with me since then. The statement encapsulated in its assumptions an acknowledgment of my dignity as a human being and an artist, and set me to thinking for perhaps the first time that feelings of self-doubt I have sometimes about my work or my path in life are not necessarily entirely self-produced; there is such a thing as a social pressure to produce salable work and do profitable artistic ventures. The thought has come back to me time and again since my time at Arquetopia, and serves as a source of strength as I realize that my priorities are, in fact, different from what is expected of me and that the alternative set of priorities I have is legitimate; I have agency and control over the work I produce and the reasons I produce it. What was a source of shame before is often a source of strength for me now. This has been especially comforting as I have come home to a world where we are increasingly expected to curate and monetize our social presences, especially as non-established artists, online and in person. Those things are fine, and building a following is fine, but it’s never been my priority and I’ve come to the realization that it’s fine for it not to be. I’m not and don’t plan to be a “content creator”; I’d rather be an artisan or an artist.

At the risk of sounding like a 16-year-old art school wannabe, I like to make art and to express my ideas, and so that’s what I do.
 
What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
The biggest change is just that I've been a lot more productive; with the exception of some of the heavier work days during December, I've worked on one project or another every day. I’ve also followed up on a lot of the things I discovered in Puebla that consumed my interest. While I was there, I got to do several training sessions with a long-established luchador, which fed my obsession with Lucha Libre as not just an aspect of culture, but as a physical practice. I’m still seeking a way to play that out in Texas (where outposts of lucha libre culture do exist), but in the meantime I’m training my body so that I’ll be ready when I do find a way to do that!

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
Residencies give space and time for the actual creation of art, which would be great by itself. Time away from daily pressures and responsibilities gives breathing room for an artist to create, away from the influences of the home city. Sometimes the whole tenor of a work can change just by revisiting it in a mental state free from the constant input of where you live; that’s the way it is for me, anyway.

Beyond that, the opportunity to live and create in a different place sets off a number of mental and creative connections that can collectively change the nature of one's work. For instance, I was exposed to the painter Agustin Arrieta in several museums in Puebla. The color tones and the textures of foods in Arrieta's still life paintings struck a chord with me and I mixed a whole new color palette for my watercolors, which I still use in a lot of my paintings. Before I encountered his work, I had rarely paid any attention to still lifes. My residency provided exposure to new art and the contexts that made it possible to understand it, which is vital in helping an artist deepen their own work.

Residencies also expose the artist to other resident creators, and that's something I certainly enjoyed! I met a number of great artists on my residency, who all worked in different media and utilized very different themes from me. But we ate together, we worked in the same place, and we shared ideas and resources. One artist helped me track down some very rare Mexican Lucha Libre comics that have since influenced my work quite a lot, and I continue to correspond with another artist who is a ceramicist, just to share our work with each other. I made some real friends and learned about their work in a context that allowed us to share and critique our work together (and also eat a lot of great food, which is pretty much the key to all my friendships).

RobertaM
ROBERTA MASSUCH (USA)
Visual Artist – Ceramics, Drawing
Click for Artist Website

What is your artistic practice?
My practice involves three separate, yet completely intertwined ways of working: ceramic sculpture, functional pottery and drawing. In the sculptural work, I construct compositions with minimalist, architectural ceramic forms which are coated with a film of directed or reflected light from adjacent, brightly colored surfaces. Based in color theory, these three-dimensional still lifes address the perception of objects and the spaces between. The pinched functional objects I create also emerge from these observations. Simple vessels with white exterior surfaces are inextricably involved with nearby objects; the surface of one will always affect the perception of another due to shifts in the intensity and direction of light covering the forms.

On what projects are you currently working?
I have a few projects lined up for Fall 2017, in addition to continuing my residency at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, PA and working as the studio technician at Community College of Philadelphia.

• A two person exhibition (with ceramic artist Patrick Coughlin) at Kitchen Table Gallery in Philadelphia, PA
• Emerging Artist at Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show where I will be showing a new body of functional pottery
• Art After Hours + Pop-up Holiday Market, Barnes Museum, Philadelphia, PA

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
I remember late in my residency having a conversation with another resident about the importance of giving oneself the freedom to focus on being present instead of being productive. When I am in my studio at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, I focus on producing work constantly instead of allowing for the time and space to let ideas wander, to rest, and to grow slowly. I had planned for my 8 week residency to be mostly focused on research, drawing, and documenting. Yet, I still felt an immense amount of self-imposed pressure to be productive in making throughout the residency. The conversation allowed me to reset and let go of that pressure, to reflect on the 6 or 7 weeks of time already spent in Mexico and spend the remaining time really investigating how to be present in the place. The conversation opened up a dialogue about how I could be more present in the act of looking and observing, not only in the architecture in the city of Puebla, but also in my practice moving forward.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia? 
I spent most of my time at Arquetopia (Puebla) walking around the city and observing formal qualities of the buildings, light, and shadows around me. Coming back to Philadelphia, I began to noticed parallels between the two urban spaces. But even more importantly, I began to notice that my way of looking had shifted. I had previously been interested in the way light and shadow affects the interior spaces of the buildings we occupy. Upon returning the realized that the focus had begun to shift to the exterior of these spaces– to the gaps, passageways, and stairways.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
I believe artist residencies are important to the artistic practice because they allow one to be outside of a comfortable, familiar place. This discomfort has the ability to make room for growth in a unique way.

dawnp
DAWN PATEL (USA)
Interdisciplinary Artist
Click for Artist Website

What is your artistic practice?
I create art as a way to communicate and reveal the unseen and unspoken world, so materials are tools of discovery and communication for me, from paint, to cloth, to the body and to the trees surrounding my home.

On what projects are you currently working?
A three-part piece incorporating performance, land art and fiber. The work began with a piece I created and began to  perform while in residence in Puebla. I am using fabric I have created from old saris and computer wire as a medium for placing my body into the center of my work as a testament to my own history and as a transformative vehicle in the process of dissimilating and healing. I am continuing this work next week in a forest in Wisconsin, where the ceremony/performance/gathering will be filmed.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
So many of the conversations we had revolved around deconstructing dominant ideologies and revealing the truths of history so often hidden in the shadows. While the deconstruction is always important, what was most profound for me was the revelation that remains after the deconstruction has occurred. I see this as a sign of the time we are living in, a time when accepted histories and ideologies are revealed and dismantled, not by The Master’s Tools [Audre Lorde] but by those willing to work in and through the shadows. A conversation early in my residency confronted my ideas of how I fit into all of this.  I was challenged to recognize the shadows in my own work (and life) by finding the questions in my work. Looking for shadows and questions is now a conscious and deliberate part of my process. I can approach my own work in a way that feels relevant both personally and socially because I am challenged to create in ways that cannot be diminished by the structures and constructs of dominant ideologies – ideologies that claim to have the answers while denying the existence of shadows.  

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
Everything is still changing. My relationship with time/body/history has changed. I was led to see how my own particular experience of the world is no less (and by the same reasoning, of course, no more) than any other. I can say that I intellectually knew this, and even understood it even on some emotional levels, but I did not know it in my body. I did not walk in that knowledge, and the split kept me somewhat imprisoned by the past and histories that are not necessarily my own. I have more confidence in my work now, not to proclaim its relevance, but to realize it in totality.

The social significance of this change, other than confidence, is the understanding of this bodily experience as it relates to others. When I look at another I see something different, ask different questions and experience the encounter on a new level. In a way it has reconnected me with humanity by asserting my own. It has also reconnected me with my time and place, in which I had previously felt I didn’t belong.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
An artist residency is a gift of time and space to the artist in a shared experience. Of course, this particular residency is unique. I can only speak of my own experience, this residency directed my work in a very concentrated and timely way, which I cannot imagine possible in day to day life.


KevinR

KEVIN RYAN (Ireland)
Multidisciplinary Artist
Click for Artist Website


What is your artistic practice?
In my art practice, I have used drawing/animation, painting and film to explore how art can be a process of personal and professional development and a way of communication and reflection on the social political and cultural life of a community. I have also worked on collaborative community led projects where negotiation and communication become a vital part of the process.

On what projects are you currently working?
Currently, I am working with a women’s group based in the town where I live. They are called Access 2000, and they are a group committed to providing opportunities to people with low levels of educational attainment and those most marginalized in the community. Through a community education model they provide both accredited and non-accredited educational programmes to address the needs of their target groups. I am involved with 2 separate projects with them. One is centered on a group of women who grew up in Wexford during the 1960s and 70s and I am recording their stories of childhood and young adulthood and how they see themselves now within the context of the changes to the roles that women play within Ireland during that time. We are researching the difference the women’s movement, feminism and educational and career opportunities have made for women today. We plan to produce a film and oral document as well as a booklet when we have completed the project. Access 2000 also run an educational program for early school leavers – young adults between the ages of 18-25 – and I am working on a visual art project with them exploring film and digital media.

I have just finished the The Traveller Inclusion project I was researching and working on when I was on the art residency and I have been approached to do a similar project with another community group in the New Year.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
This question is hard to answer because I felt that nearly all the conversations were very relevant to my art practice and made me think about it in a new light. I suppose it would have concerned how culture is a construct that one needs to examine and interrogate critically and to realize that the dominant theories and concept around culture are dominant for ideological and political reasons. I remember having quite nuanced and challenging conversations about my role as both an artist and as someone who wants to question how the dominant (western/capitalist) culture through its art institutions and education underpins a world where racism and the demonization of the other’ is not only still practiced but is very much seen as a way to control the world we live in.

What changed after the residency at Arquetopia?
I think, for me, one of the things I realized that to communicate with those I have little or no knowledge or commonality with, I must first recognize that this difference is vital in the process of working together. That when working on an art project with someone else as an artist, I come from a ‘privileged’ position. That I bring knowledge that they might not have but more as importantly I must be willing to not only question that knowledge but to cast it aside if needs be.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
I think art residencies are vital to one's art practice. They not only give you the time and space to make a body of work but also allow you to develop a process of research and contemplation about you as an artist and the work you make. And just important they should, which I believe this residency does challenge you as an artist but also the role art and those involved in the making curating teaching etc of art play in broader society. Art doesn’t exist in a vacuum and when an artist is confronted by how the historical influence of visual culture within a different culture than their own and how culture has been used as a form of suppression it should challenge and make that artist ask questions about the art making process itself. We should be willing to unlearn as well as learn.


Camila Salcedo
CAMILA SALCEDO (Venezuela/Canada)
Multidisciplinary Artist
Click for Artist Website

What is your artistic practice?
I am an interdisciplinary artist who works primarily in textiles, performance and curation.

On what projects are you currently working?
I am currently working on developing my next performance for my persona Miss Universe, through making my own outfit and objects for performing.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
The most relevant conversation I remember having during my time at Arquetopia was when we talked about nationalism and patriotism and Francisco made me realize that the idea of “nation” works, because of the invisible connection I felt with other Venezuelans when I met them. This has really stuck with me since the residency ended.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
Since the residency at Arquetopia, I have been finding more critical readings and theories to accompany my making process, in a way replicating the way in which the residency provides readings and conversation to accompany practical and technical making.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
Artist residencies are important for the artistic practice because they allow artists to depart their everyday context and reflect on their ways of making, while learning about new techniques.


Jenny3

JENNIFER SEASTONE (USA)
Interdisciplinary Artist
Two-Time Arquetopia Artist-in-Residence, Puebla – Peru
Arquetopia 2018 and 2019 Residency Scholarship Award Recipient
Arquetopia International Mentorship Program Award Recipient
Click for Artist Website

What is your artistic practice?
I am a mixed media/interdisciplinary artist.

On what projects are you currently working?
I finished my thesis project in May. I enclosed a room in map-like paper that hung by string from the ceilings. The paper was made from destroyed objects. I was interested in the reshaping of their narratives. The memories lingered in the objects’ fibers but the uses of the objects and the visual representation that the forms once held were destroyed. After the piece was installed, individuals appropriating “Jenny Sea- stone” activated the space by telling stories of the re-formed objects and claiming ownership of the narratives. These performances raised questions of authenticity and identity.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
I had previous interest in decolonization theory, but really got to think about it in an artistic way at Arquetopia. All of the readings were useful and intellectually provocative. I read and re-read "Transition between Life and Afterlife: Analyzing The Triumph of Death in the Camposanto of Pisa" a few time after coming home. And the Audrey Lorde reading really affected me in a positive way. I go back to many of the readings periodically. Arquetopia had me constantly questioning privilege, appropriation and notions of empathy. It also helped me to be brave enough to make things with that knowledge. I remember a particular time where I felt frozen by all of the new information, and worried about doing something ethically wrong to the point that I couldn’t create. I had to let the knowledge exist inside of me and to stop thinking so actively so that I could actually make something. I also remember Francisco urging me to systemize my research. I had been going about collecting materials in a haphazard way, and with a structure, I was able to make my findings more egalitari- an by removing my instincts and preferences from the process. At the same time I realized that there was no way to be completely objective. I t was all coming from me and therefore, intrinsically biased.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
My whole process of making changed. I learned that one standalone piece says something different than many pieces as a collection. The idea that a work communicates more complexity (in my case) with layers of meaning, and that those layers actually make the work mean something outside of the aesthetic. Since layers are something that I am interested in in my practice, I learned that I need to develop those layers within the aesthetic as well as within the idea.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
There are ways to get information via text and there are ways to make without reading; the difficulty is the integration. This is something that my grad school helped me to consider, and something that was really pushed at Arquetopia as well. I was able to develop a practice that utilizes research to push the work further and make it richer. There is an ethicality to consider in the privilege of making work, but there is a gift in this effort. Making art is not something without weight. At least in my case, it is important that my work holds meaning and says something greater than its materiality.


StefanieS
STEFANIE SMITH (Canada)
Visual Artist – Ceramics
Click for Artist Website


What is your artistic practice?
I am a ceramic artist based in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. My work is divided between functional pottery and one of a kind conceptual pieces.

On what projects are you currently working?
I am currently working on a collection of handmade ceramic musical instruments that will be featured in the upcoming group exhibition ‘Instrumental’ that will be held here in St. John’s at the Craft Council Main Gallery.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
This is very difficult to narrow down to just one. All of the dialogues I had with Franscisco and Nayeli were incredibly useful and engaging, particularly those focusing on the issues of feminism in art. Probably the conversation that stands out the most would be the discussion about Audre Lourde’s “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” The issue of how to have an authentic voice as a woman in a male focused society without relying on the same tools used by that society is of particular interest to me and remains a significant challenge.

What changed after the residency at Arquetopia?
The residency at Arquetopia help me realize how much I was missing critical dialogue from my artistic practice. This recognition has actually motivated me to apply to a number of grad schools for this fall.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
I think the greatest value of artist residencies lies in the opportunities to work alongside artists from all different backgrounds and disciplines. The conversations and inspirations had with the other resident artists helped me to see my own work with fresh eyes, and to gain a greater appreciation for the work being created by my contemporaries. The cultural immersion is also significant to an artistic practice because it reawakens one to the world and offers new and exciting perspectives.


Tochka Artist Photo 2
ANNE TOCHKA (USA)
Visual Artist – Painting, Sculpture
Arquetopia 2019 Residency Scholarship Award Recipient
Click for Artist Website


What is your artistic practice?
I am a visual artist working primarily in painting and sculpture. I draw inspiration from the tangible process of artmaking by learning the traditions and histories of the mediums themselves. My own practice explores decorative objects and realistic subjects that also have inherent layers of meaning. I seek to establish a new narrative in my art while fostering a connection to artists and craftspeople who have come before me.

I am currently working on miniatures crafted from spun cotton and inspired by techniques used in 19th-century Germany. Researching this project has been a fascinating look into a cottage industry that produced some beautiful surviving figures but left few details behind of their process.

I am also painting a series of landscapes on Cape Cod (Massachusetts, USA). Cape Cod has been attracting plein air artists for over a century and I am considering it a challenge to show my own vision of my home through painting. 

On what projects are you currently working?
I am currently working on miniatures crafted from spun cotton and inspired by techniques used in 19th-century Germany. Researching this project has been a fascinating look into a cottage industry that produced some beautiful surviving figures but left few details behind of their process.

I am also painting a series of landscapes on Cape Cod (Massachusetts, USA). Cape Cod has been attracting plein air artists for over a century and I am considering it a challenge to show my own vision of my home through painting.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
One of the things that set Arquetopia apart from any other residency I’ve done is the devotion of time to critical thinking and discussion of art. Although I had many conversations about Mexican history, feminism, class wars, culture differences etc, one of the most shocking discussions I had was when Arquetopia Co-Director Francisco Guevara told me that my art could be meaningful simply because it was from me and I am my own unique human being. My art doesn’t have to reflect that I am a woman or say anything about the labels that define me. I wish I had recorded that conversation because his exact words left me but the feeling of being stunned has remained. Up to that point I had never had an art “institution” state so directly that I didn’t have anything to prove because of my gender. Of course upon reflection, it’s deeply ironic that I had to have someone affirm that for me before I could realize it myself, but I will always be thankful for that conversation that led to an introspective look at my “whys” for creating art.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
Before arriving at Arquetopia, I was feeling directionless in my art practice. I did a Novohispanic Sculpture instructional residency while I was there with artist Memo. His devotion and spirituality involved in his art and teaching could be deeply felt in a way I didn’t need translated. Through his instruction, and my discussions with Francisco and Nayeli, I was able to realize what areas of art making were most im- portant to me and see what was lacking in my practice. When I left I had about a hundred new ideas and paths to explore and now, over a year later, I still haven’t exhausted them.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
Artist residencies allow an artist time away from the demands of everyday life to focus on their art. By disrupting the regular habits of process, artists are able to explore their art more deeply and see it in different ways. And while the time to focus on art and developing skills is very important, the life-chang- ing part in a residency comes from being immersed in another culture. The experience of living and working in someone else’s community, removed from your own, is completely eye-opening. It forces you to question “how does my life, my art, fit into the world?” Artist residencies allow you to have the unique mindset of being a student of both art and life.


Bronwyn1
BRONWYN TREACY (Australia)

Visual Artist & Educator – Printmaking
Two-Time Arquetopia Artist-in-Residence, Puebla
Arquetopia 2015 Residency Scholarship Award Recipient
Click for Artist Instagram

What is your artistic practice?
I trained as a printmaker but more recently have been involved in participatory art projects.

On what projects are you currently working?
This year I became a mum, which is of course now my major project. I have however also started developing new studio work in printmaking.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
I have been lucky enough to undertake two residencies at Arquetopia. Over the course of those two visits, I had many conversations around issues of privilege and disadvantage. Most pertinent were conversations around the complexities of privilege and how many factors impact upon an individual's agency in the world.

What changed after the residency at Arquetopia?
I learned the value of working collaboratively to make work. During my first residency I worked with a group of secondary school students to make relief prints and develop an exhibition of work. I found that working with others, rather than on my own, was more engaging and purposeful and I felt that the final work was greater than what could be achieved when working solo. I also just really liked making work that wasn't about myself. Since then I have devoted my time to a collaborative project with a small group of women, wherein we sought to document the experiences of women artists working today. I left the project to focus on parenthood, but the project is still ongoing. (The website for the project is favoureconomy.com). It feels right that a socially engaged project should continue to develop and have life, though the individuals working on the project might come and go.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
Muy importante! They give an artist the opportunity to focus on their practice and to broaden their artistic thinking through cultural exchange and conversation.


ginat1
GINA TYQUIENGCO (Guam/USA)
Visual Artist – Painting
Click for Artist Website

What is your artistic practice?
I am an abstract artist devoted to exploring the theme of cultural duality in my work. My work also explores themes of universality, peace, love, purity, process, mystery, and beauty. My paintings are largely inspired and influenced by music, which I believe spans our differences and connects us across race, religion, ethnicity, and culture.

On what projects are you currently working?
I am working on smaller abstracts on paper using acrylic, ink, and gold leaf foil. I'm also in the process of moving into my first studio space that will be shared with up to three other artists. We're creating a space where everyone is welcome and we plan to host monthly workshops, open studios, and other various events.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
I have to preface this question by saying that all of my conversations at Arquetopia were profound. I have never been in a space where everyone is so vulnerable and open to sharing their creative process. It was so refreshing to be surrounded by people who shared their perspectives on all aspects of life, and did so unapologetically and articulately. However, the one conversation that was most relevant to me was a meeting with Nayeli and Francisco where I was asked why I repeat certain patterns in my work. It was such a simple question, but I didn't have an answer. I have always been aware of the patterns in my work, but I have never asked myself why I create those patterns. Francisco then prompted me to seek the reasons and take detailed notes while I'm creating. That one conversation completely changed how I work.

What changed after the residency at Arquetopia?
My creative process has changed a lot and I've become more confident and open-minded. I used to zone-out while painting, but now I have become more mindful of the movements that I make and the thoughts that I think. I became more confident in myself as a woman (of cultural duality) and I started to change the language that I use, such as replacing "I feel... " with "I think... " when expressing myself. I also started a new practice of journaling about my work, which has helped me to understand myself better. As an abstract artist, I want my work to speak for itself, but I've realized how important it is for me to communicate my thoughts through language as well. This practice of being more mindful and asking myself questions as I create has helped me communicate better, which was my ultimate goal for the residency.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
I broke open at Arquetopia... it was truly a life-changing experience. Residency programs are important to the artistic practice because, as artists, we are all on a journey of seeking truth, and residency programs help us get closer to the truth. They help us get closer to the truth by creating the space to be vulnerable and ask the big questions and see things from a different perspective. At Arquetopia, I was surrounded by like-minded people who were talented and intelligent and passionate. Arquetopia did a great job of curating who shared the space and I appreciated their selection process. Nothing compares to the energy you create when you’re doing something with passion and honesty. It fills you up and you radiate inspiration. This was the energy I was surrounded by all the time at Arquetopia, and it’s why it was so easy to break open.


We add content to this page on an ongoing basis. Come back for more profiles of our outstanding alumni.


FollowUs1