Beach Installation by Fall 2006 Resident Karen White. (Clay and sand, close-up detail)
Sitka's residency program is designed for visual artists, writers, musicians, as well as naturalists, ecologists, and environmental scientists.
This article will give you a sense of what it's like for artists and scientists to be in residence together.
Residency Program Overview
The Residency Program has provided more than 200 artists, writers, and natural science scholars the opportunity to conduct their work in the unique environment of Cascade Head and Salmon River estuary. Residents are on campus October through mid-May, when public workshops are minimal. Up to five residents at a time, usually from different disciplines and stages in their careers, live and work on campus for up to three and one half months free of charge. All residents perform community outreach during their stay, offering free exhibits and lectures on campus, presentations to area schools or community groups, and/or conducting scholarly research for local educational institutions. The Sitka Center hosts approximately 26 residents each year. Some residents are emerging voices; others are mature professionals, internationally recognized in their disciplines. Residents come from across the U.S. and (to date) seventeen nations.
For a better understanding of the program, please review the following areas including, cost, creative work, skill level, community vs. solitude, community service, expectations, environment, and the value of time and space.
The living space and studio space is offered free-of-charge. There is a small application fee of $15 which helps support the residency program. The resident is responsible for all travel and living expenses, e.g., food, cleaning supplies.
The artistic work created at the Sitka Center is limited only by the facilities and equipment available. Currently, we offer residencies to visual artists, writers, musicians, and composers. In addition, we offer residencies to scientists focused on an issue with an ecological or environmental consequence. We are open to other creative disciplines that would fit well at the Sitka Center.
Residents are selected in a range of skill levels. We believe in the magic that happens when professional and emerging artists have the opportunity to exchange ideas through conversations, projects, or occasionally sharing meals. When several residents from different disciplines and skill levels live and work in the same area, cross-pollination occurs on many levels -- from a casual chat that inspires new ideas to an intentional project that transforms the resident's work.
Community vs. Solitude
We plan a few casual events during the residents' time here. A few days after arrival, we hold a Show & Tell and invite the local community. During the evening, or Saturday afternoon, residents share a brief presentation (approximately 15 minutes each) about their work. This allows for immediate connection between the residents and the local community. We also schedule two hikes with local experts to help orient the residents to the area and help them get to know each other.
On the other hand, we respect that some residents want more solitude while others desire more community involvement and consequently, we offer optional ideas for connecting with each other, e.g., movie nights in our library, weekly lunch, or group hiking. It's up to each resident to coordinate how frequently or infrequently they want to interact with other residents and the community. Our hope is that this gives each resident what he/she needs in terms of solitude and community involvement.
Community Service Project/Outreach
Giving back to the local community is very important at Sitka. Each resident is asked to complete a community service project/outreach inline with his/her talents, skills, and passions. There are many options and it can be difficult to settle on one. Usually, residents work with local schools, local wildlife agencies, or the Sitka Center. We work together with the resident, before or after arrival, to find a project that fits his/her needs. At least 4 hours per month is expected to be dedicated to a community project.
Expectations of Residents
Our expectation is that residents participate in the Show & Tell/Artist Salon, complete a community service project/outreach, complete an exit interview, and leave the residence and studio spaces in the same condition as when they arrived (or better).
"Place" is what makes the Sitka residency experience extraordinary. We're nestled in a Sitka spruce tree grove located in the Cascade Head Scenic Research Area. Along with the pristine, lush, green environment comes a sense of tranquility and peace. We encourage residents to experience the area by hiking, walking, following elk trails, canoeing, and kayaking.
Residents must consider whether or not this is the right environment for them. We are approximately seven miles from the nearest grocery story in Lincoln City with a population of about 7,000. It rains frequently -- about 193 days per year -- with an annual rainfall of 98 inches, thus rain gear is essential for outside exploration.
Value of Time and Space
A residency is about taking precious time out of the regular routine of life and expanding into the space of creativity. We revere this practice. Our intention is to offer residencies of three and one half months with living spaces and studios that enhance this experience.
The studios are furnished with basic equipment; however, residents must bring any necessary specific equipment and supplies.
The residences include living room, bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen areas set-up with basic cooking supplies. Residents are encouraged to bring items to make the living space accommodate their personal needs, e.g., a favorite cooking skillet or pillow. Each resident has his/her own private residence within walking distance of each other.
A Few Words from Past Residents
"My Sitka residency was so good, and it was so positive for me to be here I feel like words don't do my experience justice ... I feel like I leave with a renewed relationship with myself, with my drawing and painting, which is truly Sitka's greatest gift to me at this time." Phyllis Trowbridge, Spring 2011
"The freedom to work for an entire day -- or week or month or year -- gives most artists the feeling of returning home. The work is where we know we belong, where we find ourselves with all of the strange and wonderful tools we've discovered over the course of our careers to navigate the unique journey of our lives. For my four weeks at the Sitka Center I've felt at home ... I feel infinitely grateful for the time I've had here to embrace my work with all the reckless freedom and delight of a child in the safety of a home in which he feels cared for and nurtured and loved." Scott Sadil, Spring 2011
"My time at the Sitka Center has been an amazing journey of self-discovery. Having the time, a beautiful resonant space, beautiful surroundings, and the friendly supportive folks of the Sitka Center all contributed to a deeper understanding of myself as a person and musician, and of my instrument, and the music I worked on. Since I don't have any of this at home this residency was a gift that cannot be surpassed." Letitia Berlin, Spring 2011