OUR RESIDENT ARTISTS

SPOTLIGHT ON OUTSTANDING ARQUETOPIA ALUMNI
Since its beginnings in 2009, Arquetopia Foundation has hosted hundreds of artists, writers, art historians, curators, and researchers from more than 70 countries worldwide and from a wide variety of disciplines. Below are testimonials from some of the outstanding alumni of our residency programs.

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

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


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ANNABEL BIRO (Canada)
Visual Artist – Ceramics
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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.


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QUINCY BRIMSTEIN (USA)
Visual Artist – Printmaking
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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.


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CANNEO CANÚL (Mexico/USA)
Multidisciplinary Artist
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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
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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.


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GEORGIANNA CHIANG (USA)

Visual Artist – Photography, Painting
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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.


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ROMINA CHULS (Peru)
Visual Artist – Textiles
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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
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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.


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MARK DE FRAEYE (Belgium)
Visual Artist – Photography
Three-Time Arquetopia Artist-in-Residence, Puebla & Cusco
Arquetopia 2016-2017 Showcase Solo Exhibition
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!!!

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PRISCILLA DOBLER (Mexico/USA)
Visual Artist – Mixed Media
Arquetopia 2019 Residency Scholarship Award Recipient
Arquetopia International Mentorship Program
 Award Recipient
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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.

VeraF
VERA FAINSHTEIN (Ukraine/USA)

Multidisciplinary Artist
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 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 relevent to me. In retrospect, what feels most relevent 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 relevent to my own art, but also to the act of art-making in general.

Samar1 2
SAMAR HEJAZI (Palestine/Canada)
Interdisciplinary Artist
Arquetopia 2019 Residency Scholarship 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
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.


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.


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.

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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.


Jenny3
JENNIFER SEASTONE (USA)
Interdisciplinary Artist
Two-Time Arquetopia Artist-in-Residence, Puebla & Cusco
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.


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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.


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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.


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AGGIE TOPPINS (USA)
Visual Artist – Graphic Design
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What is your artistic practice?
I’m a graphic designer who works both independently and in collaboration with my community. I use my studio practice as a form of active citizenship as well as an intellectual pursuit. I make a lot of printed multiples but I also work across media depending on the idea.

On what projects are you currently working?
I’m just a couple of weeks away from mounting my first solo exhibition, Palimpsests, which will take place at the Bagwell Center for Media and Art in Knoxville, Tennessee. I will show thirteen collage-based prints that combine digital and silkscreen methods. I made this body of work using materials that passed through my life while traveling—with all the privileges and vulnerabilities that implies. I held on to scraps of receipts, fliers, maps, and other printed matter as I encountered them and pasted them into small collages.

The process captured the immediacy of my experience while reflecting a willful dislocation. Later in the studio, I enlarged scans of the collages and built large, layered compositions that indicate the passage of time. By enlarging the work and presenting it in such a lush, material way, I hope to seal the moment—making it eternally present—and invite the viewer to a visual conversation. The fragments in the compositions are abstract, yet distinct enough that an open-ended narrative begins to unfold. I’m interested in the play of meanings that are possible with a viewer, who comes to the image with a certain set of life experiences, and through an encounter with the work, touches a moment of mine.

What is the most relevant conversation that you remember having during your residency at Arquetopia?
I had been reading The Darker Side of Western Modernity by Walter Mignolo and the Arquetopia staff recommended I also read excerpts from Emmanuel Levinas’ work. The conversations we had in response to these readings had to do with distinguishing discoveries from encounters.

My project advocates from an ethical ontological position (being) rather than an epistemological one (knowing). I was exploring an intersection of the personal with the collective and using my work to have a confrontation with the self in the context of the other. I don’t seek to know the other, I seek only to be with them. The work, then, is a double encounter—first emerging from an embodied experience, and second in being presented to a viewer.

What changed after your residency at Arquetopia?
The residency gave me the time and space to complete a body of work and grow confident in articulating my intentions. I enjoyed the excavation-like conversations I had at Arquetopia. As I prepare an artist talk for my exhibition opening, I feel more equipped.

How are artist residencies important to the artistic practice?
Artist residencies are a good fit for people with busy professional lives and access to support. My everyday life has me torn in many directions: making my work, doing research and writing, teaching, and performing administrative tasks. I am a professor of design and the Head of the Art Department at UT Chattanooga, so I have a lot going on.

Residencies work well for me because they are a pause. Each one is a finite amount of time in which to focus on a project. The various forces in my life seem to respect this sacred time, understanding it to be an investment in my creative development. I like going to residencies because they are physically removed from my daily routine. The physical distance has a way of translating into critical distance; I can see myself and my work better by having this kind of disruption. I also love meeting other artists from around the world. In my experience, artist residencies have been a great way to read and reflect, develop work, and build friendships.


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BRONWYN TREACY (Australia)

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


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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.


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