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The Impact of Artist Residencies | Andrew Ginzel

“Something special happens in these places. Consider that it may be something unexpected. At times I come with an empty slate.... In other instances I come with deadlines. Always I come away with something beyond what I could have imagined.”

Andrew Ginzel & Kristin StoneConsider silence, consider time and concentration: can one hear oneself think? Is time the litany of minutes passing in a waking day? Or is there another more acute time made manifest when conditions align, and one’s potentials arise?

Considering these things I reminisce about visits to artists’ communities and I long for yet another time out of time. To feel the energy of compatriots intensely working nearby yet all respectfully distant when required, or of dining night after night with others who would normally never cross my path is a rare and illuminating experience. What wonders poets are to painters. Composers awe novelists. Video makers enthrall playwrights! Every time I witness this phenomenon it has consistently nurtured my processes of creation. Djerassi, Bellagio, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Blue Mountain Center, the American Academy in Rome, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, among others, are planets in distinct orbits yet allegiant to one sun, and that sun can be you.

When I encounter people with excuses—jobs, families, homes, pets—I plead: Apply! Be good to your equilibrium. Take advantage of these opportunities to transform. You need not surrender your autonomy, eccentricities, or even a wild disposition. Urban calluses soften in forests, mountains, and on the plains while, conversely, a new city can be a source for unforeseen vitality. Worries often melt and procrastinations dissolve with the elixir of a nurturing environment.

We all wish conditions were always ripe for creativity in normal life, yet they are often not. At residencies, colonies, and retreats, however, most external distraction is vanquished. Paradisiacal environments are constructed to catalyze and cultivate you. Legions of dedicated souls (heroes, really) are, at this very moment, raising funds, cooking, cleaning, gardening, mowing, and fixing in the spirit of the potential of your creativity.

Something special happens in these places. Consider that it may be something unexpected. At times I come with an empty slate; I cast aside every preconceived plan and just see what happens. In other instances I come with deadlines. Always I come away with something beyond what I could have imagined.

Then there is the reflective quality of having access to new minds around you, each person a treasure of intriguing life experiences and an archive of knowledge.

What fertile ground for reference or even collaboration!

Many speak of weeks’ worth of work produced in days, months’ worth in weeks. This is true. Yet one can also just sing, read, and/or think. My accountant wonders out loud why there are not these places for the likes of him. As does my dentist.

So for those who have not applied: Try. For those who have applied: Try and try again. And for all those curious as to what will come next in the arts: Consider how you can help to support, improve, and expand these wondrous opportunities.

Andrew Ginzel: www.andrewginzel.com