That maybe I can live without one. I came to this conclusion after being turned down 8 times.
Doing the Math on Residencies
But I’m not really discouraged, because I ran the numbers. Many residencies publish their numbers, how many people apply and how many people are accepted. So I did a bunch of math and figured out the acceptance rate for various residencies. Any residency with an acceptance rate under 5%, I skipped applying to. The math also helped me realize that I would need to apply to *at least* ten residencies to get even one.
I’ve applied to ten so far since January and been turned down 8 times. (Still waiting to hear back from two more.) I’m not upset at not having gotten any residencies yet. Residencies are always competitive, and right now there’s a backlog, caused by program cancellations during the pandemic. And, I’m applying to both residencies where the artist goes alone, and residencies where you can take your children or your whole family. The family ones are extra competitive.
I took a break from applying to focus on making art, and also because there were no more deadlines. I’ve got my eye on a few more to apply to when the open application time periods happen.
Doing a Virtual Residency
As I was applying for all these residencies – I was also doing a virtual residency. I have tried to do at home residencies before, with mixed success. What made it different this time was that for one thing, I’d been on an in-person residency the previous fall, so I had some habits to draw from. At that residency, I worked 10-12 hour days, in part to make the most of my time, and in part because there was literally nothing else to do. It was during the covid pandemic, so the social opportunities that might normally be there were curtailed.
The other thing that made this virtual residency work is that I wasn’t alone. I was part of a group of us, all working in our own studios, but in the online community the Artist/Mother Network. (If that sounds familiar, they also have the Artist/Mother Podcast.)
I felt accountable, because I was. And I had a sticker chart. Any day I spent 2 hours or more, I’d get two stickers on my calendar. Any day that I was in the studio at all, and made any progress, I’d get one sticker. (On my longest studio day, I’d put in 8 hours.). It was encouraging to see the sticker chart, with all those shiny stars, and to see the art stacking up in the studio.
One of my ideas for an at-home residency that I have yet to implement, is to order catering trays (for the whole family) from my favorite restaurant. Right? Residencies are all about food and nurturing and meeting people and being in a new environment. Okay, my home studio can’t be a new environment, but I can take myself on field trips to nature and museums, and I can give myself a break from cooking, given enough money. (Is there a foundation for that?)
What I’m trying to do now is continue those good studio habits made during the virtual residency. I’m getting into the studio more often, I’m moving projects ahead more quickly.
Going straight from the virtual residency into preparing for a solo show (of work made in the virtual residency and after) has definitely helped me keep those good work habits. Nothing like a real world deadline.
I still want to go on a residency out in the world! I hope I’m awarded one of the two I’m waiting to hear back on, or the one I’m applying for this week, or… But if I don’t, I’m planning inspiring, if modest, travel for my family and me, to museums, to the beach, to history sites. What can I say, we’re nerdy travelers but we know what we like. Museums, beaches, theater.
I’m doing my best to give myself (and my family) some of what a residency provides – time, space, inspirational travel, and good food.