Arrowmont artists-in-residence to show off their creations; public reception Saturday night

Mar. 09, 2013 @ 09:29 AM

Arrowmont's five artists-in-residence spend approximately 11 months in the program, most of the time diligently working on their art. Arrowmont provides them with a monthly stipend, meals, shared housing with private bedrooms and their own studio.

The idea is to take care of the essentials so the artists can focus on what they came to Arrowmont to do — create and develop their artwork.

At the end of the 11 months, the artists show the fruit of their efforts at the annual artists-in-residence exhibition in Arrowmont's main gallery. An opening reception for the exhibit will take place from 6-9 p.m. Saturday (today), and the artwork will be displayed in the Blain Galleries through May 4.

"(The art in this exhibition) is pretty reflective of what we've been working on during our residency," said David Katz, an artist-in-residence working in ceramics.

"My work has changed; it's good to see it now in the gallery space and compare it to the first piece I made here last summer," added textile and painting artist Erin Castellan. "There's been a definite progression, just having the time and space to work here at Arrowmont."

As Katz noted, the artists came into the Arrowmont program at different times in their careers. They all had bodies of work and ideas they'd already been working with, but the program allowed them to dwell on those ideas as well as discover new ones.

"The time spent within this year has allowed me to fine-tune my work and investigate new media," said ceramics and printmaking artist Jason Burnett.

Furniture design artist Heather Ashworth added, "For me, it's been hammering out ideas that I started with, and then seeing where they go."

The artists agreed that the structure of the program, the way it contrasts with everyday life by providing the artists with greater time and space to work, has been instrumental in their development as artists. As Castellan put it, "It's been a rare one-year gift."

"We were able to arrive here and have they say, now you're able to sit in your studio and here is the time to focus and hone in on the ideas you've been struggling with to develop," Katz said.

The aspect of community in the program also benefited the artists, as they were able to talk to one another about their work, share ideas and help each other work through artistic issues.

"We're all pretty individual workers ... but if we were stuck on something, we knew we could ask each other," Ashworth said.

Katz and Castellan explained that the group also came together through the institution of Arrowmont, organizing events, workshops and classes together. They've developed a camaraderie over the past year.

"I might knock on Erin's door and ask her opinion on something outside of ceramics, or I might go to David's studio and ask him if it's more content-based in the ceramic realm, using the material that we're both familiar with, so there's always that dialogue and conversation and questioning," Burnett said.

The artists leave the program May 31. Some of them know where they'll be next, but some don't, and the emotions were bittersweet.

"Nothing compares to being right next door to another artist, and having the time and luxury of space without cost," Burnett said. "That's part of the hardship of leaving."

"Maybe we should apply to Arrowmont again," Ashworth said, and everyone laughed.

rhargett@themountainpress.com