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New residency program offers space for artists and opportunities for students

The new program has welcomed three artists onto campus who will lecture and engage with students throughout the semester. (Hart Rosenburg)
The new program has welcomed three artists onto campus who will lecture and engage with students throughout the semester. (Hart Rosenburg)

Three artists new to campus recently opened their studio doors for an open house, the first of several events occurring as a result of the new Artist-in-Residence program at Mills College.

The program, titled “Art + Process + Ideas” (API), features visual, sound and installation artists. The program that provides artists with the opportunity to have time and space away from their regular obligations and surroundings to forge new relationships, access different materials and experience a fresh environment.

“It’s an interesting, different twist to the program so far,” Maysoun Wazwaz, program manager at the Mills College Art Museum said.

A collaborative effort between the Mills College Art Department and the Mills College Art Museum brought Zarouhie Abdalian, Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon and Weston Teruya to campus to participate in the pilot artist-in-residence program. With this new program, Mills took an active role in providing work spaces to artists who are often faced with the challenge of finding community and affordable studios.

Catherine Wagner, professor of studio art, approached Stephanie Hanor, Mills College Art Museum director, about bringing an artist-in-residence program to Mills College to test the impact on campus.

“[It’s] a wonderful way to bring artists — artists working on really exciting things to campus — have them engage with our students, have them engage with the larger community, also get a glimpse of what these brilliant people are doing, what their process is like,” Yulia Pinksukevich, assistant professor of art said. “I think it is all very positive.”

Teruya is happy to be a part of the program.

“It’s such a wonderful opportunity to have studio space, to have a museum show at the end of it, to be in commune with other artists because once you finish your schooling there’s so few [spaces] with community, especially with artists that you don’t already necessarily know, so it’s been great to just have a chance to be here with other folks and learn from one another,” Teruya said.

Gordon has been inspired by some of the experiences she has had with the music department at Mills College. It is one relationship on campus that attracted her to the program.

“I work with sound, and I’ve come to the concerts here a lot. … I’ve gotten to know a lot of students here, and I really felt a strong connection to people coming out of Mills, Berkeley and Stanford,” Gordon said. “We’re all coming out of these small programs, and I felt that there was some interesting cross-over that happened. I wanted to be here for that.”

The API program will also address the issue of space for artists. As Oakland continues to become a more attractive area to live, rents have increased, making it difficult for artists to find spaces to work.

“A lot of people are moving toward [Artist-in-Residence programs] because people are realizing there’s so much need in the Bay Area for spaces — spaces for community and then also literal, physical studio space,” Teruya said.

Pinksukevich believes that the program will give students a balanced perspective.

“It’s important to keep in mind that it’s not a piece of cake, but here are three … people doing it successfully and on their own terms in their own way …” Pinksukevich said. “I think it gives students not only a model but also empowers them to figure out their own path.”

The artists in residence will each offer a lecture before hosting another open house in May at their studios. At the end of their residency, the Mills College Art Museum will host their group show, the A+P+I Opening Reception, on June 24. For more information and further details, see the Mills College Art Museum events page.