Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Temple University Libraries’ Artist-in-Residence Series: 2014 and 2015 Seasons with micha cárdenas and Angela Washko

Photo Credit: m cardenas

Photo Credit: micha cardenas

by Nicole Restaino

Thanks for tuning into the second post on Temple University Libraries artist-in-residence program (read the first post in the series). I am looking forward to telling you a little bit more about the work of our 2014 and 2015 featured artists, micha cárdenas and Angela Washko, respectively. The stories of their engagements at Temple will also give you a better understanding of the specific components involved in selecting, recruiting, and hosting artists for our program, as well as some lessons we’ve learned along the way.

Before we delve a bit deeper, I just want to refresh the basics: The artist-in-residence series developed to more deeply explore a chosen theme through a single practice. By approaching such a broad variety of topics and methods, our artists highlight the interdisciplinarity of the Libraries. And, as an experiential, performative program, our artist-in-residence series demonstrates how the Libraries actively support cultural production. Finally, by hosting artists and makers with national reputations, we accomplish our goal of providing unique cultural programming that resonates throughout the city.

As an experiential, performative program, our artist-in-residence series demonstrates how the Libraries actively support cultural production.

The series launched in 2014 with a visit by artist, scholar, performer, coder, web developer, and public intellectual micha cárdenas, planned to anchor our 2014-2015 series on Digital Cultures. It was, in fact, cárdenas’ interdisciplinary, intermedia practice that led me to develop the artist-in-residency program. I knew that she could engage a broad range of audiences through a seemingly endless set of skills and projects. Did we want her to workshop with graduate students on the digital humanities platform Skalar, that she helped to develop? Did we want her to perform, dance, install her work? Should we feature her solo projects or her work with groups like Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0? Would micha talk about her art, her scholarship, her theoretical work?


Photo Credit: micha cardenas

In the end, I didn’t want to water down the breadth in her body of work. Nor did I want audiences to miss out on her visit to Philadelphia. If we pitched a theory-driven talk to faculty and grad students, the art-going public and undergrads might miss out. On the other hand, a busy grad student might not have time to sit through an extensive workshop or a performance geared toward more generalized audiences. Why not bring her in residence for a week, making time to really explore her practice with the depth it deserved, and providing a breadth of audiences with the opportunity to see her work (she was in Canada at the time, and previously California, so her extended visit to the East Coast was a special treat for Mid Atlantic audiences)? In the end, micha and I decided on a performance, an artist’s’ talk, and a meet and greet with graduate students and artists.


Photo Credit: micha cardenas

Moreover, as I began sharing information around her visit, other departments and organizations stepped forward, offering to support micha’s visit in any way possible. Temple’s General Education program agreed to a substantive partnership, and has been co-sponsoring the artist-in-residence series ever since.

As micha was our first artist-in-residence that year, her visit served to pilot the project going forward. We found that all engagements garnered significant– and distinct– audiences, and that the excitement, buzz, and energy around her visit made the artist-in-residence project one worth pursuing. micha’s visit has ultimately served as a template for subsequent years, with invited individuals visiting for 4-10 days and partaking in 3-5 public activities.


Photo: Dustin Fenstermacher

When the Libraries’ selected Games, Gaming, and Play as our 2015-2016 programming theme, I began to immediately investigate artists whose work would intersect. I became fascinated with Angela Washko, whose projects took place within live and digital spaces, many of them in games, after reading about her work in an art world publication. I reached out to Angela (through twitter!) and so began the preparations for our second artist-in-residence. Somewhere along the way I found out a crazy coincidence…Angela was actually a Temple alumna! I must have not looked at her CV very hard…but what can I say, I was distracted by her awesome work. This provided an additional opportunity for Temple students to interact with a successful alum. In addition to Angela’s artist’s talk and performance (templated off the success of micha’s engagements in those formats), we hosted an alumni luncheon.


Photo: Dustin Fenstermacher

Our series of events with Angela also went quite well, and was again sponsored by the university’s General Education program. The program attracted the Philadelphia First Friday (monthly gallery/program/performance night in the northern half of the city) arts crowd. That said, the timing (Friday, at 4PM), blunted attendance a bit. We also relied too much on social media for RSVP counts. Over 200 people said “yes” or “interested” on Facebook, but only about half of those individuals attended. After that experience, I take Facebook responses with a grain of salt, and use the platform as a promotional tool (especially inexpensive sponsored posts!) instead of a representation of expected audience attendance.

Thank you for once again tuning in. Find out more about the artist-in-residence series and all our programs at http://ift.tt/1iYCJwq. Feel free to send me questions and comments at restaino@temple.edu


headshotNicole Stengel Restaino is an art historian, arts administrator and public programming curator. She is currently the manager of public programming and communications at Temple University Libraries, setting strategy, content, and assessment plans for cultural programming and events, publications, and outreach. Nicole contributes to ProgrammingLibrarian.org on best programming practices and regularly presents at and attends arts administration and scholarly conferences. 

Get in touch with Nicole at restaino@temple.edu.

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