Some residency applications request explicit proposals, outlining what artists will work on while in attendance. Don’t worry if your intended project changes once you’ve arrived. While Macy advises attendees to “arrive with a firm intentionality and purpose,” he also notes that same “energy can change shapes and bear no resemblance to the project description on the application.” That drive, whatever its new direction, “ought to be the center of your creative life for the few weeks or months in the sanctuary of a residency,” Macy says.
Working around others, with very different backgrounds, can inspire creative breakthroughs. McKinnon describes the value of Camargo’s cross-disciplinary nature with an anecdote. One anthropologist, he says, came to the residency to work on “colonial subjects and psychiatric imagination” and was amazed by how artists’ approaches influenced her own work. She decided, McKinnon recalls, “to work on creative installations alongside the academic writing.”
Calliope Nicholas, the managing director at the Millay Colony for the Arts in Austerlitz, New York, echoes these concerns. While it’s fine to arrive with goals and timelines, she says, many residents benefit most “if they’re also open to other possibilities and directions in their work. Having the space for deep thinking and studio time opens up new horizons and possibilities.”