As QCA launches the 2nd round of the QCA's Residency Program, ArtHotel, we thought it would be great to give you some sort of perspective as to what it is like to work in a hotel for a 3-month period.
QCA Grant and Resource Director of the Queens Arts Fund, Lynn Lobell, interviewed last year's recipients of ArtHotel. The first Artist-in-Residence, Erin Treacy, set up her studio at the Paper Factory Hotel. Placed in the lobby, she worked in a very public environment, As painter, she was responsible for breaking down her workspace following each studio session, securing her materials in a locked closet at the end of the day. For photographer and installation artist Jennifer Williams, her residency took place at the ZNYC Hotel, where she worked within a closed guest room. Jennifer's workspace became not only her studio, but the location of a site-specific installation.
As you will see from the conversation, each hotel provided a very different and unique experience for each artist.
Lynn: Did the residency meet your expectations?
Erin: Yes, overall the residency provided space and financial assistance to work on a new body of paintings and drawings. Prior to commencement, I was interviewed by the Paper Factory and was able to see the space, which was sectioned off from the main lobby but also very public. This was a new way to work, with an ongoing open studio process, yet it was nice that visitors were able to see the studio process that leads to the art. It took a little while to get used to, but once I was going things were great. Occasionally someone would ask questions, but really they were just observing so it was not interrupting. Since it is an open space I would keep my materials in a separate closet, The Paper Factory's arts manager would meet me to assist in set up and break down. At first (being the first resident) it was a little difficult figuring out when to go. Once I set up a regular schedule then the manager and I were able to easily meet to set up space.
Jennifer: Yes! For me, the residency was about being given a space to work in that was outside my normal routine, something new to inspire me.
Lynn: What was it like working in a hotel environment? Were you able to meet the goals that you set?
Erin: It was definitely a change. I have done several residencies mostly in secluded environments, so it is surprising the questions that did arise from hotel guests. I had planned to work on small colleges and drawings while there, but ended up working on canvases because the hotel had easels and there was not a place to work on a wall (brick and glass), however, the change was welcomed, as it challenged my usual studio practice.
Jennifer: It was a unique experience, unlike any other residency I’d participated in before. I had an entire room to myself and time to sit and let the work grow organically, which was a main goal. Hotels are such transient spaces with guests streaming in and out. I think the tourist vibe pushed my work in ways I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. I definitely exceeded the goals I set. I'd say my biggest challenge is feeling aware of the room as a hotel room; not an "official" studio space. Therefore keeping it clean and blemish free are always on my mind. And trying to not disturb the guests.
Lynn: What advice would you pass along to the next recipients of the ArtHotel Residency?
Erin: Make a schedule at the beginning if you are required to meet with a hotel personnel to begin your workday. I set up two days a week I would come in and that made it easier to know I was not going to have to be exchanging constant communication about when I would be in that week. If you do not like your picture taken, it could be a bit difficult. The hotel guests are all visitors, often European tourists, and they do take lots of photos of you in the process of the making. This was difficult for me at first, as I am not a person who’s used to it, but again, I did get used to it so it was a learning experience - like a constant open studio. Think about your studio process, if you need to leave everything out from one visit to the next, this may be difficult for you, visit the space and see if it can work for you.
Jennifer: Get settled in as soon as possible and make the most of your time! For me that meant bringing the equipment I needed to the space and having them set up, ready to go on a whim. Also explore the neighborhood and talk to the hotel staff. One of the advantages of the residency is gaining new insight into your work by talking with people who wouldn’t normally see your work or aren’t clued into the art world at all.
For the 2018 ArtHotel QCA will again be partnering with the Paper Factor Hotel located in Long Island City. New to our residency hosts is the SpringHill Suites, LaGuardia located in Corona.