My Art Residency is off to a start!
I just concluded the first week of my art residency at the Northwest Branch of the Dayton Metro Library. My art residency first week experience was all about figuring out a structural best practices, and improving the processes. The Residency schedule consists of Workshop days and Studio days. Workshop days (Monday, Thursday, Saturday) are when the public is encouraged to participate and learn with me, while Studio days (Tuesdays, Wednesdays) are days that I am creating publicly for the public to observe.
I started of the week not really sure how things would play out. Despite the schedule and descriptions on the website and the rotating picture of my giant head on the 2 screens inside the branch, people still weren’t sure what was going on. As a result they would, d drift in and ask. This is to be expected, it’s a new thing at this branch of the library. Adding a sign in front of the studio room helped greatly.
I have an apprentice that comes to learn with me on Mondays and Tuesdays. In exchange she helps out around the studio. I also roped my 15 year old son (who is also an artist) into coming with to help out. (for a small fee 🙂 My helpers take pictures, help clean up etc.
1. Expectation vs. Reality.
I expected to work with older kids and adults. Being that it is summertime, the daytime clientele is mostly elementary school age kids who need things to do. The staff also expected that I’d be working with the kids, and wanted to send kids into the studio. I had a very short-lived middle school art teacher career. While I have some experience, I found the classroom management skills challenging. Despite my trepidation for working with this age group, it’s hard turn away young kids who want to participate.
2. Age range.
The evening workshop hours sees more adult participants. A lot of the kids who are there during the day, are also there in the evening. Adults tend to be more purposeful and serious. Kids mostly want to have fun. I have to manage being attentive to both groups. I have to balance working with both kids and adults at the same time.
My art Residency experience is divided into workshops and studio time. In order to protect my studio time, I need to get better at enforcing boundaries. People (mostly kids) come into the studio and see me doing something that looks fun. They want and expect to be able to participate. At first I thought could move fluidly between working and teaching. I’ve found that workshop time will eclipse studio time if I don’t enforce boundaries. To accomplish this, I will make window signs that specify times, to (hopefully) eliminate confusion. If that doesn’t work, I will tell them.
My original plan had been to bring my actual supplies and tools, and teach my actual process. I quickly found out that I had to simplify the process. Younger kids may not have the fine motor skills and dexterity needed to manage large stamps and rollers. Adults may not have the savvy that comes with years of experience.
-I found that of rolling paint onto the stamps with rollers was more challenging than I expected. As a result I decided to make stamp pads instead. The Carle Museum was an invaluable resource of information for making stamp pads.
-Participants wanted more creative freedom, so Instead of participants using my stamps. I decided to let them to provide an opportunity to create their own.
-Rather than expecting original creations, I needed to provide starting points. I created some basic shapes as a starting point for those who may be creatively blocked.
-Multiple paint options inevitably lead to mud, so decided to limit color palettes.
Up till now, all the making has taken place on one table, which turns the studio messy very quickly. From here on out, I am creating work stations. There will be a separate stamp creation station, printing station, and clean up station. Each station will have clear signs so that everyone knows what happens where. This (hopefully) will cut down on the chaos and disorganization.
Balancing my time between my Art residency experience and business operations has been a slight adjustment. I had to make sure to leave time for managing the shop, while staying on top of creating products.
I find that I am really enjoying my Art residency experience!
It is so gratifying to know that people love and appreciate what I’m doing and want to participate. I love when participants tell me that they came specifically to see me.
It is very fulfilling to see young participants being fully engaged. There were a couple of young artists who blew me away with their creative thought processes. They reminded me to leave my assumptions at the door about what I think they are capable of.
I also really enjoy seeing how other people work differently from me, and learn from them.
We all go into situations with expected outcomes. It’s important to leave room for unexpected outcomes .
This has been a very fun and exciting first week. I am excited to see what next week brings, and how my tweaks affect the experience. Stay tuned for week 2 Recap!