Fine Arts: New York Studio Residency Program
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New York Studio Residency Program
There’s an unavoidable gap between an artist’s student life and his or her working life. As a preeminent art and design institution, Ringling College strives to close that gap with a reality-based curriculum. To further close the gap, it connects its fine arts majors with the world’s finest residencies. The New York Studio Residency Program (NYSRP) is one of them.
NYSRP is an affiliate of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), an elite alliance to which Ringling College belongs. This one-semester residency program for undergraduates is located in Manhattan’s “DUMBO” (an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) neighborhood—a nerve center of the global art world.
In the past two decades, artists and designers converged on DUMBO’s affordable lofts and warehouse spaces, transforming the neighborhood into a thriving hub of galleries, art organizations, theaters and design centers. Leading visual and performing artists live and work there. In the context of that milieu, NYRSP offers a 16-credit program of independent, self-directed study. Each year, 15 to 20 third- and fourth year students from around the country and Canada are selected by their colleges for NYSRP’s fall and spring semesters. Four faculty members—a painter, sculptor, and two art critics (one of whom is also a curator)—guide the students during their residency. Students find
their own living accommodations but each is provided a working studio.
Want to see what an artist’s life is like in the real world? NYRSP’s
students have come to the right place.
John Tomlinson has been the program’s director since 1992. Tomlinson is an accomplished artist, videographer and animator, whose professional practice spans almost 40 years. Along with a lengthy list of accolades and achievements, he was also professor of drawing in
the fine arts department of Parsons the New School for Design from
1980 to 2001.
According to Tomlinson, this residency offers several vital benefits. Students get a daily encounter with art practice in one of world’s largest artists’ communities. They also undergo constant seminars and critiques. “NYSRP offers a transitional space for a community of peers,” he says. “That space provides both support and the taste of independent living as artists in the world beyond academia.”
The guidelines are demanding—and not for everybody. In a nutshell, NYSRP demands a combination of artistic talent, creative drive, strong focus, academic achievement, self-motivation, and a willingness to participate in creative discourse. Students who meet this high standard are considered. Those who complete the program usually look forward to outstanding careers.
In Tomlinson’s experience, each participating institution adds its unique flavor to the residency, and Ringling College is no exception.
“Ringling College’s character for many years carried the drive, devotion and spirit of Leslie Lerner, the late painter and Ringling faculty member,” says Tomlinson. “His unreserved faith in the students was reflected not only in the students selected to participate in NYSRP, but in the students from other schools who encountered Leslie when he visited the program for the final review every semester.” Tomlinson adds that the current crop of Ringling students reflects the same high standards as when Lerner oversaw the program. “Leslie Lerner’s legacy remains strong under Kim Russo, the current chair of the fine arts department,” he says.
Tomlinson’s comment about Lerner’s legacy opens a window on his own educational philosophy. Under Tomlinson’s leadership, NYSRP offers its students creative freedom, with the expectation that they give their best while participating in the residency. Their ability to participate in regular critiques is high on Tomlinson’s agenda. After all, if the students are to succeed as working artists, they’ll have to get used to criticism.
“I’ve always believed that students ought to be given the space to develop their studio practice,” says Tomlinson. “Within that context, they need to learn the history of art and get a close encounter with art being made today, guided by an exceptional faculty providing one-on-one critiques. That belief has been the foundation of my directorship.”
For more information about the New York Studio Residency Program, visit: nysp.aicad.org.
Photos below are of Ringling College Fine Arts students Chris Degrer (2012) and Kyle Petreycik (2012) at NYSRP.
Below is a list of Ringling College Fine Arts alumni who have participated in the NYSRP:
Jessica Lena Bowie
William Ashley Coon
Marjolyn Van Der Hart
Radha Hillarp Katz
David Ian Klein
Romy Aura Maloon
Jeffrey Heart Scudder
Blair Mitchell Whiteford