Erie Arts & Culture Launches Visiting Artist Residency Program

Friday Jan 31st, 2020

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Erie Arts & Culture is excited to announce a newly established visiting artist residency program, made possible through the generous support of a privately funded grant from The Erie Community Foundation.  The new initiative will launch with the first artist in residence in February. To execute the residency program, Erie Arts & Culture has partnered with Long Road Projects, a Jacksonville, Florida-based nonprofit arts organization. This initiative is part of a larger ongoing effort by Erie Arts & Culture to advance locally contemporary artistic practices that are globally informed, socially responsible, and process driven.

“When Patrick first presented the idea to the Foundation, we immediately thought of a donor who has an expressed interest in this type of artistry,” said Susannah Weis Frigon, vice president of Philanthropic Services of The Erie Community Foundation.  “The donor’s gift will help initialize this first partnership between Erie Arts & Culture and Long Road Projects.”

Long Road Projects, founded in 2015 by Aaron Levi Garvey and Stevie Covart Garvey, has served as a platform for artistic experimentation, community engagement, and lifelong learning in Northeast Florida, focusing on contemporary artists from diverse backgrounds. To date, the organization has welcomed 17 artists in residence to Jacksonville. The Erie initiative will serve as the northeast annex to the established program operating in the southeast United States. 

Long Road Projects’ collaboration with Erie Arts & Culture will fund seven residencies in Erie. The residency program, which is by invitation only, solicits artists identified as a rising voice in the contemporary art community who are actively working to scale their work as an artist. All artists, whether visual, performing, or literary, must demonstrate a clear ability to communicate both their processes and the ideas that fuel their work. 

During their residencies, which will extend between two and four weeks, artists will be provided with opportunities to examine the region’s built and natural environment, interact with local industries, engage with the cultural sector, meet residents, and access educational institutions.  Each residency will include deliverables to the community, including exhibitions of work, open studio hours, master classes, or public lectures. 

The first artist, Stephon Senegal, will arrive in Erie on February 2 for his first visit and will remain in town through February 14. Working in assemblage, sculpture, and printing making, Stephon is an African American Artist whose current series focuses primarily on engaging communities of color. Stephon received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Howard University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU), and a Master of Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute of College of Art. 

Born in Lafayette, Louisiana, Stephon now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Stephon works with communities that have been disadvantaged as a result of systematic disparities. Through his current body of work, Stephon explores how school-aged children of color learn about Greek and Roman figures and the virtues they represent, yet are not equally exposed to hero figures who look like them because Indigenous, African, Latin American, South American, and Asian pantheons and paragons are not often equal part of the discourse. While in Erie, Stephon will engage with our community to help shape his ongoing series. His will illustrate a series of complex nonliteral fantastical identities based upon his research in the Erie community. These compositions will then be used to create public sculptures, which once fabricated would be installed in neighborhoods within Erie's urban core. 

Erie Arts & Culture is working now to build out the full schedule of Stephon's first visit, which will include open studio hours and other public-facing activities. We have scheduled meetings with the art departments of the region's universities, going as far south as Allegheny College in Meadville. We are also scheduling meetings with the three community centers, the Multi Cultural Resource Center, Erie Public Schools, and the YMCA teen center as a part of our youth engagement. 

Aaron Levi Garvey will also be in Erie February 3-5. In addition to co-founding Long Road Projects, Aaron is also an independent curator, museum professional, lecturer, and arts consultant. Aaron has served as a guest curator at the Atlanta Contemporary, The Joan Mitchell Foundation and Center, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, and other prestigious arts institutions.