“Terra Incognita” DIY Artist Residencies

This year I’ve had the pleasure of several DIY Artist Residencies**: six weeks in Austin in April; the “Terra Incognita” two-day intensive in PA last weekend with three other artists, and I have one more upcoming week-long residency, in Baltimore at the end of this month.

Terra Incognita means uncharted land; and it was used by medieval cartographers to describe what happened “off the map,” and after a weekend of many kinds of inspiration, we chose the term because it reflected our artists’ intentions to ask ourselves to seek new skills and new ways of producing which reflect the world/s we traverse and the edges we play on.

What a DIY residency entails:

  • getting out of your apartment/house –> everywhere but NYC, people have guest rooms!
  • having to be accountable for at least some of your actions [this ain’t wanderlust]
  • scheduling art production goals and setting deadlines
  • scheduling art-intake time: seeing other people’s work is important!
  • a healthy sense of TOSS [Taking Our Selves Seriously]

One of my favorite aspects of a DIY residency are getting to choose/collaborate on the place, time, company and activities for the residency. One person may book the space, another do the menu, another drum up creativity exercises, and another map out locations to visit. I also appreciate that all it takes to create this kind of creative space is setting clear intention. And isn’t that the root of much of our great work anyway?

**I use “DIY Residencies” as a term to define the act of supplying myself with a new place, a quiet space and focused time to work diligently on a project. I feel great that it’s an off-the-grid experience. I have applied for a very few “real” residencies, and from what I can tell the time I spend on those applications would have been equally well-spent working on writing, so if I can accomplish the goal of *producing* with less work to find the place to do it, then all is as well as I could wish for.