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Arts + Ecology Preconference

Arts + Ecology

How do residencies support artists exploring ecological themes? Engage communities around sustainable practices? Foster collaborative work between artists and ecologists, farmers, researchers and leaders from other fields?


Monday, October 20, 10am - 4:30pm
Registration opens at the Alumni Center at 9:30am


College of Charleston, Alumni Center room, 86 Wentworth St. (Enter around the corner on St. Philips Street through the courtyard).


          [agenda] [what to know before you go] [roster]


Through panels, workshops, talks and skillshares, the preconference will explore how residencies are engaging with ecological art and design, conservation, environmental activism, food systems, agriculture and rural art-making. Panels will examine the nitty-gritty of hosting a residency around these issues while also exploring the role of residencies within ecological and environmental movements.

Organized in partnership with:
Grin City Collective
MadroƱo Ranch
A Studio in the Woods
Wormfarm Institute


We have reached our capacity and are no longer accepting registrations for the preconference. Please note, if you are attending the full conference and are not able to attend the preconference, there will be several other sessions during the full conference agenda that address ecological themes. 

What is an Ecological Residency?

Today the word "ecology" encompasses broad, sometimes conflicting, categories - eliciting anything from natural resources to wilderness conservation to alternate energy to agriculture, which in turn is connected to farm culture, food culture and more.

Residencies are adopting equally diverse programs and practices to engage with ecological themes - from artist calls focused on environmental issues to programming around local food culture to residencies on active farms.

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10am - 10:15am Welcome




Alliance Welcome | Caitlin Strokosch | Executive Director, Alliance of Artists Communities

Organizers' Welcome | Brad Kik | Co-Director, ISLAND; and Molly Rideout | Co-Director, Grin City Collective

10:20am - 11am Introductions

5 x 2 Mini Talks

A high speed, action-packed tour of the ecological residency landscape. Each participating program will have the chance to share 5 slides in 2 minutes highlighting core ideas and programs from their residency.

11:10am - 12pm Breakout Sessions

Creative Collaboration | Connecting Scientists + Artists

To strengthen the scientific foundation of ecological art, ecological artist residencies are bringing together scientists, ecologist, naturalists and artists of all disciplines. How do residencies navigate and support these complex and potentially fruitful collaborations? A discussion highlighting three distinct models.


Farming in Residence

The pairing of active farms and artist residencies is a quickly growing trend. A discussion of what is involved in co-operating a working farm and an artist residency, the role of agriculture in creative practice, and some speed bumps to look out for.

  • Pablo Elliott | Farmer, Marble House Project (Dorset, Vermont)
  • Molly Rideout | Co-Director, Grin City Collective (Grinnel, Iowa)
  • Jay Salinas | Co-Founder, Wormfarm Institute (Reedsberg, Wisconsin)
12:10pm - 1pm Breakout Sessions

New Pathways | Funding for Ecological Residencies

With funding already cutthroat in the arts, how do artist residencies with an ecological focus use this lens to access new types of funding? How do they ensure that their funding sources are not conflicting with their environmental objectives?

  • Christina Catanese | Director of Environmental Art, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Brad Kik | Co-Director, ISLAND (Bellaire, Michigan)

Conservation + Caretaking

There is a long history of artist residencies with a commitment to caring for and protecting the land - from conservation easements to permaculture, restoration of the natural landscape, sustainable agricultural methods and much more - an exploration of practices and techniques.

  • Laura Amador | Residency Manager, Djerassi Resident Artists Program (Woodside, California)
  • Jamie Badoud | Executive Director, The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts & Sciences (Rabun Gap, Georgia)
  • Ama Rogan | Managing Director, A Studio in the Woods (New Orleans, Louisiana)
1pm - 2:10pm Lunch (provided)
2:10pm - 3pm Breakout Sessions

Cultivating Community, Building a Base

How can ecological programs build trust in our communities, and engage the public in a way that is useful and interesting to them? How do we help meet the needs of a small rural community that has diverse stakeholders and limited resource?

  • Andrea Avery | Community Arts Coordinator, John Michael Kohler Arts Center (Sheboygan, Wisconsin)
  • Caroline Brooks | Program Manager, Sitka Center for Art & Ecology (Otis, Oregon)

Engaging Environmental Challenges

An international discussion around how ecological residencies are fostering new energy around environmental challenges.

  • Julie Decker | Director + CEO, Anchorage Museum (Anchorage, Alaska)
  • Catherine Lee | Assistant Director, Bamboo Curtain Studio (New Taipei City, Taiwan)
  • Cammie Hill-Prewitt | Residency Coordinator, A Studio in the Woods (New Orleans, Louisiana)
3:10pm - 4:30pm Final Discussions + Wrap Up

Impact + Directions

A full group convergence followed by a series of breakout discussions asking: what does impact looks like for ecological residencies? Is there a common language we share and how can we increase visibility for this work? What do next directions look like?