The Art Residency Experience at The Neighborhood Art Center

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Utah Valley University bachelors of fine art students Samuel Stoddard and Brian George recently completed their art residency at The Neighborhood Art Center, which is located in Provo Towne Center.

“I came upon the opportunity through a post on The Neighborhood Art Center’s Instagram,” Stoddard said. “I applied through their website, they asked us to present some of our previous work, propose a project we would work on during the residency, and create a lesson plan for a class that would be part of the program. I created a series of monotypes from memory and photo references, which I collaged into a recreation of my childhood home. For my class, we created our own still-lives and made monotypes based on them.”

While Stoddard and George participated in the NAC art residency, they had to devote 12 hours of their time in the studio every week. The two of them would typically teach two one-hour classes.

“I really enjoyed teaching the art classes,” George said. “I love being so close to child-like creativity. The kids were unfiltered, full of energy, and hilarious. We created imaginary creatures in my class. I had the children scavenge for materials in old magazines and collage the separate elements into an undiscovered animal. The results included everything from a rainbow sloth with angel wings to a dystopian washing machine robot whose sole purpose was to ‘wash all toads.’ It helped me remember that the root of authentic art is the sincere desire to make something. Preliminary plans, technical skill, and intentionality are deeply important but mean nothing if the artist is not invested in discovery.”

This is Stoddard and George’s fourth year at UVU and while attending, there have been a number of professors that have had an impact on their experience with the art world. Both of them mentioned Alexandra Gianell who is an assistant professor of painting and drawing at UVU.

“Brian and Sam are two of the most advanced artists in the BFA Painting and Drawing Area within the Department of Art & Design,” Gianell said. “Both are dedicated, focused, intuitive, and receptive. Their peers respect them and look to them for sophisticated advice and constructive criticism regularly. They set a very high standard in their own work, in the classroom, in the Painting and Drawing Area, and in the Department, exemplifying a sense of hunger for activity, exposure, and growth which extended beyond UVU into the community with their recent residency.”

Since completing their art residency, Stoddard won the Dean’s Choice Award in the most recent Student Art Exhibition. Both Stoddard and George are progressing within the art world and hope to continue their education.

“I think nothing is more valuable than giving yourself permission to play,” George said. “At least for a little while. Work is essential and unavoidable but it’s hard to arrive at interesting conclusions unless you explore the possibilities of your medium, materials, and concept. Set aside some time in the studio to be child-like and question it all.”If students would like to see where the art world takes Stoddard and George next, they can follow both of them on Instagram. @brian.the.artist @samuel_stoddard_art