The Santa Fe Art Institute

Franco Andres, SFAI Post-Graduate Fellow, gives us a talk and tour on what SFAI is all about. Photo By Richard Sweeting

SFUAD alumnus Franco Andres is a SFAI Post-Graduate Fellow. Photo By Richard Sweeting

For more than 30 years, the Santa Fe Art Institute has been serving as a national and international non-profit residency for artists of all disciplines. With a variety of resources and studio space, the Institute houses up to 12 artists from around the world at a single time, totaling 60 to 80 artists per year occupying a space designed to interact and stimulate creative thinking among peers. Franco Andres, a Santa Fe University of Art and Design alumnus, interned at SFAI and is now the manager of volunteer and internship programs. “We provide the artists with facilities, staff, and space. It’s a reciprocal relationship,” Andres says. “But it’s definitely focused on the artist.”

Not only do the staff and residents work together to create stunning exhibits and displays, but SFAI offers a multitude of opportunities for current students at SFUAD to get involved and gain both invaluable experience and a space to further their own creative process.

What sets the program apart from other artist residencies is the use of rotating themes. “Artists approach the theme as they see fit,” Andres says. With a variety of skills from architecture, studio arts, film and even writing, the residents interpret the theme in ways that are inspired by their skills and cultural differences.

SFAI’s current theme is Immigration/Emigration. Emma Fitzgerald is an artist with Irish parents, who was born in Africa and then moved to Canada. With a background in architecture, Fitzgerald has only been in Santa Fe for a week, and with barely enough time to adjust to the climate, already has a firm grasp of what she wants to explore in her time at SFAI. “Art is a way of storytelling,” Fitzgerald says. “There are a lot of stories that immigrants bring. I came to Canada as an immigrant and I know that [in the United States, immigration] is a much more charged issue.”

The artists in residence get their own private studio space to work. Photo by Richard Sweeting

The artists in residence get their own private studio space to work. Photo by Richard Sweeting

Another Canadian resident currently staying at SFAI, Tings Chak, also has a background in architecture. “It’ll be fun to be here with someone with similar but different experience, and in a totally different environment,” Chak says. Chak intends to work on a collaborative project with another Canadian artist joining her next month. “We work around issues of justice,” she says. “So when the theme [of Immigration/Emigration] came up, it was a natural fit.”

Artists like Chak and Fitzgerald are only few of the many that stay at SFAI. With 12 private, furnished rooms that include their own outdoor spaces, and a communal kitchen and library open 24 hours, residents can drift between isolated thinking spaces and an open, insightful peer community. “This is not an exclusive space,” Andres says. “We want to help people on every level achieve their artistic goals.”

Students at SFUAD are welcome not only in terms of internship opportunities but as a place to mingle with professional artists, participate in exhibitions, film projects and events or even to sit in the soundproof courtyard and dream up ideas. “You hear how difficult it is to end up with a career in the arts because it is structured differently than other careers,” Andres says. “It is our goal for students to see that is is possible and that it happens all the time.”

The Santa Fe Art Institute offers free studio spaces to the public. Photo by Richard Sweeting

The Santa Fe Art Institute offers free studio spaces to the public. Photo by Richard Sweeting

From SFAI 140, an event in which artists and professionals have 140 seconds to give inspirational talks, to pop up shows and interactive galleries, such as Gregory Waits’ event held in Lumpkins studio where artists used water balloons to breach an imaginary border, the Santa Fe Art Institute welcomes ideas, galleries and projects from residents and SFUAD students alike.

SFAI 140 will be 7 to 9 p.m. on March 23. Film students, be on the lookout for collaborative project opportunities for next year’s theme, Water Rights, where SFAI will be holding an open call for developing a thematically relevant film series.