Located in Studio 319
This competitive juried residency provides meaningful support to emerging artists who have recently completed formal academic training in the visual arts. It is an opportunity to address the critical post-graduation juncture in an emerging artist’s career.
Residents have three months of exclusive access to a studio in the Art Center. Therein, they can create and sell work, interact with the public, and connect with other arts professionals. It’s an opportunity for professional development, networking, and a chance to define a practice outside of the academic context.
Applications are open to recently graduated students who earned a bachelor’s or master’s art degree from an accredited university. Submissions were accepted from across the U.S., provided artists submit proof of their permanent residence in the area and/or commitment to contributing to the future of the region’s arts scene.
Congratulations to the 2021 Residents
Nicole Wandera • January – March
Virginia Commonwealth University, 2019
B.F.A. Communication Arts
Nicole is an artist and activist from Nairobi, Kenya, based in Northern Virginia. She studied at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned her BFA in Communication Arts. Her African heritage is a vital source of inspiration, and she uses acrylic or digital mediums to capture the richness of her culture. Her work revolves around social justice and equality. She uses art as a form of catharsis to express her frustrations with oppression she faces as a black woman. Her goal is to create a visual dialogue around social justice, equality, and a future where we all prosper regardless of our race, ethnicity, whom we love, religious beliefs, and economic status. She believes in activism through creative expression.
“My art is a reaction to the world I live in; thus, my work revolves around social justice and the black experience. My work reflects how I feel, and right now, I am angry. Angry for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and all the many victims of police brutality. Black people, especially black women, are the most disrespected and discriminated against group in our country. It is a daunting task trying to depict this pain through art, and it will take a lifetime to truly capture the collective trauma my people have faced and the resilience we have gained. However, I hope to try because I am tired of living in a world that uses my identity against me. The work will represent how it feels to wake up every morning with the weight of trauma from a society built to oppress you. The anxiety of the uncertainties around having children with black skin. How does a mother protect their child in a world where their identity makes them a target? I do not know the answer to that question just yet, but I know it begins by creating spaces to tell these stories and working together towards a solution.”
“I plan to use this residency to create a series of works focused on healing the black woman, surviving domestic abuse, and how to use trauma to create beauty. The pieces will have two interactive components; augmented-reality and sensory. I plan to develop augmented-reality digital pieces that will correspond with the physical art. The goal here is to create work that can be viewed in a socially distant environment, with the same intimacy as a traditional exhibition. The sensory component will be a combination of light and sound to enhance the work’s emotional narrative and include the audience in the creative process. I hope that the art will help victims of domestic abuse or any women struggling with their mental health know that they can be vulnerable and strong. On a personal note, this work is my form of therapy and a love letter to my daughter. She, like every other little black girl, deserves to know that she is beautiful and loved. This experience will help me grow as an artist and explore how I can combine my passion for art, technology, and community.”
Lindsey Kircher • April – June
The Pennsylvania State University, 2019
B.F.A., Fine Art , Concentration Drawing and Painting
Lindsey Kircher graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BFA degree in Drawing and Painting from the Schreyer Honors College at the Pennsylvania State University in May 2019. Lindsey held her senior thesis solo show, “Babe Cave” in January 2019. She has exhibited her work in group shows including “Punch,” a three-person exhibition at 5-50 Gallery in New York City. Her work has been reviewed in White Hot Magazine, and featured in publications by Art Maze Magazine and Auc.Art. While at Penn State she was recognized with the Creative Achievement Award for the College of Arts and Architecture in 2019, and the Kara D. Berggren Award recognizing the most “outstanding piece of artwork” in the undergraduate juried show in 2019. She was nominated and selected to attend the Yale Norfolk School of Art in 2018, and has been a resident at Open Wabi and the Atlantic Center for the Arts.
“In my work, I portray resilient female protagonists empowered by the landscape that they inhabit. Serving as mythological self-portraits, the women in my work engage in an introspective journey to forge their own reality and seek the truth about their world. Fearless of setbacks they may encounter, they transcend limitations of body and gender to engage in self-reliance and bravery. Through the use of intense lighting, I refer to ancient ritual and mysticism, creating the impression that these female figures are deeply intertwined with nature and the primordial origins of the world. This radiant luminosity conveys that they are engaged in a spiritual or numinous transformation and suggests that they are not of this world. Their neolithic limbs and sturdy bodies emphasize their strength and capability as dismantlers of preconceived truths. Typically positioned low to the ground, these women are engulfed and protected by the luscious landscapes around them. However, they seem to be simultaneously propelled forward towards the cusp of action or discovery. Captured in a state of rapture or beholding, the women in this work push the limits of their awareness, awakening unto all that they are and liberating the next stage of who they can become.”
“During the Post-Grad Residency, I will build upon my current body of work to make luminous paintings about truth-seeking women on the cusp of discovery. While my work portrays a personal journey through the recurrence of a single female figure, I hope to engage the public through themes of resilience and transformation, which reflect shared responses to recent circumstances experienced by the world. After working in isolation during the start of the pandemic, I welcome the chance to share my work with a large community of artists and visitors. Understanding why visitors are interested in my work would allow me to make more informed decisions. ”
Eliza Clifford • July – September
University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2019
B.F.A. in Graphic Design, Printmaking, and Book Arts with Certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies
Eliza Clifford lives in Bethesda, Maryland where she works as a freelance graphic designer and multidisciplinary artist. Her work focuses on ideas surrounding womanhood, mental health, ephemeral identities and evolving social/political environments. She utilizes a variety of mediums, including intaglio, serigraphy, book arts, comics, and textiles. She is currently an Apprentice at the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center and a Bookbinding Associate at Distinctive Bookbinding and Leather Designs. She also owns a small Etsy shop, Lavender Lizard Press, and sells a variety of small screen prints, etchings, and other hand-made goods.
“My work explores ideas of womanhood, mental health, gender, freedom, and how identities are constructed (and destructed). The narratives I create are set in familiar scenarios and everyday routines, like getting dressed, sitting in traffic, going on a hike or getting groceries. These characters, primarily women, often face situational challenges as a result of their changing societal and political environments; in my work I show how these characters live in their environments and how they seek to upend/change them. By creating these fantastically feminist narratives, I entice the viewer to engage with their own references of femininity and seek to question how seemingly abnormal attributes and experiences of womanhood make us ponder who we are and how we function within society. The goal of my work is to express a greater desire for feminist ideals to be realized through the liberation of identity.”
“I’ve been focusing on projects that are driven towards an open discussion about mental health and the lack of individual freedom in a socially toxic society. During this residency, I would like to explore new ways to engage the viewer by creating relatable narratives and displaying them thru interactive mediums, including playful bookbinding, comics and zines, and even designing board games. While my work has been primarily two-dimensional, I want to utilize my time at the Torpedo Factory to expand the core themes of my work into new forms and vehicles of communication to share with the viewer.”
Daniel Varillas • October – December
Maryland Institute College of Art, 2019
M.F.A. in Graphic Design
Daniel Varillas is a multidisciplinary artist and designer from Rockville, MD. His work explores ideas of culture, identity, language, and family history. The result of these inquiries often exists as a consolidation of printmaking, fiber arts, and graphic design. His professional design practice is focused on brand identity design for the art and cultural sectors, and he is currently with the internationally recognized design studio, Pentagram. He has worked on identity projects for clients including American Express, Nike, the National Landing BID, Under Armour, and Studio Theatre. Daniel received his BFA in Graphic Design from the Maryland College Institute of Art.
“As a first-generation Salvadoran American, my work is an exploration and rediscovery of my own cultural history. Through a transnational and transcultural lens, I reference a blurred family history rooted in agrarian and craft practices. Those practices directly inform my creative process and use of materials. I use prints, garments, textiles, and time-based works to explore ideas of identity, memory, spirituality, and the Latin American diaspora. My work confronts ideas of power structures, labor and oppression, and simultaneously celebrates and elevates Latin American voices and experiences.”
“I have always had an interest in the Graphic Designer whose work transcends commercial purposes, blurring the lines between art and design. During this residency, I want to continue to define and solidify what my practice looks like as a dual artist and designer. I want to continue to explore ideas of personal histories, culture, and memory through an experimental approach to storytelling. By making fiber-based, sculptural, and time-based works I will combine my digital practice with traditional techniques such as natural dyeing, sewing and weaving. I will continue to explore how technology and digital processes inform my interests in these traditional forms of making that reference Latin American history.”
2020 Residency Juror
Gretchen Schermerhorn is the Artistic Director at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, an art center dedicated to the contemporary creation of hand printmaking, papermaking and the art of the book, in Hyattsville, Maryland. She received her MFA in Printmaking from Arizona State University, and since then has completed artist residencies at The Women’s Studio Workshop in New York, Columbia College Center for Book and Paper in Chicago, Seacourt Print Workshop in Northern Ireland, California State University and the Robert Rauschenberg Residency in Florida. Her prints, installations, and works on paper works have been exhibited around the country and internationally, and her work is part of the Montgomery County Public Art Trust, Anne Arundel Community College’s print collection, and the Janet Turner Print Collection. She has received individual artist awards from both the Maryland State Arts Council and the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County.