3rd Year MFAs Spend a Summer Residency in Ireland
Over the years the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design has sought to provide a unique and formative opportunity for the third year M.F.A.s that would support their education outside of the classroom. In previous years, this took the form of an expense-paid exhibition at Aqua Art Miami, during Art Basel week, where grads would participate in an international art fair to learn the ins and outs of the art economy and global art culture. This year, however, the school provided a different opportunity—one that required a passport.
The Welch school connected with the Burren College of Art in Ireland through Director Joseph Peragine, who has traveled and exhibited in the country. The college is located in the Burren, a region famous for its natural beauty and unique ecosystem. It partners with over 40 colleges and universities in the US and Canada, and its workshops and residency programs welcome practitioners from all over the world. Eight Studio M.F.A.s and one Art History M.A. participated in the summer residency program there, led by Art History faculty Susan Richmond and Textiles faculty Jess Jones.
Summer residencies are not only common practice, but particularly pivotal in the development of an artist’s work. Residencies provide the space and focus every day environments don’t, as well as additional resources, inspiration, and a community of new discourse. The Burden College prides itself in “providing space for reflection and introspection but also directing the contemporary artist’s unique insight towards problems and solutions in the wider world.” The resources included 24hour-access studios, a print studio with a large etching press, a darkroom, photographic studio, digital lab, a 3D lab, a lecture theater, a drawing studio, and a library with more than 6,000 books, artists’ videos, slides, and a range of art-related international periodicals.
The nine grads spent two weeks in the college studios, Burren landscape, and Irish culture, to gain a new perspective on their work, using only the often unconventional materials they had available to them. New perspective is an invaluable commodity leading into the thesis year of a grad’s M.F.A.experience
We asked them what they took away from their experience across the pond and how it impacted their practice.
RJ Sturgess, Ceramics:
Ireland is a place like no other, The scenery, the people, and the way of life are enchanting. The residency at the Burren college of art was an amazing way to catch your breath from 2 years of grad school, and simultaneously reinvigorate your studio practice going into your third year.
Ana Coello, Graphic Design:
The art residency program at the Burren College of Art was an incredible experience. As a Graphic Designer, most of my time is spent on the computer, so I decided to go into this residency with no expectations on the work I wanted to produce. As a result, the breathtaking landscapes and diverse materials found at the college inspired and allowed me to explore different mediums.
Jeff Kuratnick, Ceramics:
My installation invited people to move through a psychologically uncomfortable path. Minimizing damage to and assessing appropriate contact with the installation objects through the universal act of walking are conceptually relevant to the work. My time in the Burren provided an excellent opportunity to further explore installation in relation to my upcoming thesis work. The mix of outdoor and in-studio experiences provided for time, and space to think beyond my current studio practice, and strengthen the means in which I want to bring work into the world.
Parker Thorton, Photography:
The residency at Burren College was a breath of fresh air—literally and figuratively. The bucolic setting and slower pace of life allowed me to focus and tune in. As the college president Mary Hawkes-Greene said to us, “When god made time she made a lot of it.”
Asante Tait, Art History:
Galway Ireland and the Burren College of Art were a refreshing retreat from the bustling city life that I have grown so accustomed to. I was the only MA on the trip and was very excited to be able to get back to my studio practice, textiles, and get help along the way from Jess Jones who I’ve always wanted to take a textiles course with! I’ve never really had the desire to live or work in a rural area before this experience and it helped me clear my head and really do some creative thinking and problem solving in a very tranquil space where I was free to experiment. The main thing I worked on was altering a hoodie I had and infusing Ireland‘s and America’s intrinsic yet opposing values. I worked on pleating, tried some embroidery to little avail, and also made a separate Trinity Knot using a technique I have never used but always wanted to learn, called Trapunto. All in all the trip helped me refocus and find my center and also gave me a great perspective of the work needed to be put in to thrive as a studio artist.
Jack Michael, Printmaking:
My time at GSU’s Burren College of Art residency not only brought me closer to my colleagues, but also to the core of my artistic concerns. Because of this program I’m able to enter my thesis year with clarity of mind, and know I’m supported by a stronger-than-ever peer group for mutual success in the studio.