Fall 2017

Page 20


Navigating the great wide world of work


Habitats for Humanities by alexander gelfand

As a recent SVA graduate, Marilyn Narota (MFA 2016 Fine Arts) had a general sense of what she wanted from her first artist’s residency: a structured environment where she could make work, meet fellow practitioners and receive feedback from seasoned arts professionals. But as a city-bred newlywed with a parttime job and no driver’s license, she also had a good idea of what she didn’t want: a traditional retreat-style commitment that would require her to abandon her husband for a month “in the middle of nowhere,” she says. “I don’t think I was ready for that.” Not that long ago, Narota might not have had much choice. Historically, most artists’ 18

and writers’ residencies followed the model made famous by organizations such as the MacDowell Colony, in New Hampshire, or Yaddo, in upstate New York. Designed to enable artists to escape their everyday obligations and concentrate on new work, these opportunities came at a price. Participants had to agree to be in a particular, usually remote place for an extended period, accepting a certain amount of isolation as part of the package. Commuting was not an option, nor was bringing one’s family—conditions that automatically excluded anyone who could not, for whatever reason, detach themselves from their regular lives for any significant length of time. V I SUA L A R T S JOUR N A L

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