I don’t know about you, but personally I haven’t really given thought to applying for an artists’ residency, or at least not yet. I have always assumed that I still have a long ways to go, creatively speaking, before I am ready for something of that nature. While that may or may not be true, Mike Lemke (UNC’s Ceramics Professor) recently held an artist talk and exhibition opening reception to share some of his own experiences and works from his time as a resident artist at Penland.

Lemke’s “The Penland Experience” showcases the works that he created while working at Penland School of Crafts, located in North Carolina. This body of work is an exploration of his interest in marine biology as well as the defense mechanisms of different marine creatures.  Lemke said that the various teapots, cups, mugs, Saki sets and other vessels shown in the exhibition all gave him a chance to experiment with new techniques, ideas and glazes. The main idea behind the experience of a residency is to work. To work hard at your craft and to make, talk about, critique, gain inspiration and experiment with your art. Penland specifically had a wide variety of studios and workshops dedicated to photography, ceramics, printmaking, drawing, glass, book arts and more.  

Lemke said that his application process was quite similar to that of a scholarship, including images of previous work, an artists’ statement, resume and a statement of intent. A quick Google search turned up multiple individual listings for residencies as well as a search tool site (artistcommunities.org/residencies) where you can narrow down your search either  geographically, by discipline or by application type. Lemke described that Penland accepts applications as resident artists, classes, workshops or to work as staff (studio assistants, cafeteria workers, etc, who attend classes for free). One thing to bear in mind is that is typically a cost associated with attending. This will usually include room and board and a studio area. The studio will either be furnished with supplies or not, depending on the funding of that particular residency. But Penland’s monthly cost is considerably less than most studio apartment rentals in Greeley.

Penland’s site states that the heaviest consideration for entry into their residency program is based on the quality of the applicant’s work. Perhaps that means that even with my fairly unimpressive resume and awkward statement of intent, maybe I still have a chance. Even if I don’t get in to the first program I apply for, or the next five after that, it’s always good experience and it’s great to get your name out there in connection with your work. And maybe I, or you, would get in on the first application, but we’ll never know unless we try.

Learn more about Professor Mike Lemke