American residencies funded by private foundations are giving French and other international artists a chance to devote themselves fully to their artistic projects.
Thanks to the foundation headed up by art collector Eileen Kaminsky, French artist Laurence de Valmy, 43, was given a studio to work in for three months at the Mana Contemporary cultural center. The artistic organization founded in 2011 by businessman Moishe Mana is one of the biggest of its kind in the United States, with sites in Jersey City (New Jersey), Chicago and Miami. We spoke to Laurence de Valmy to find out more.
France-Amérique: Why did you apply to an artist residency?
Laurence de Valmy: I arrived in the United States four years ago. I had a solid career in digital marketing behind me, but I wanted to devote all of my time to painting. I learned painting techniques with friends and studied art history at the University of Michigan, but I needed a work space, equipment and a network of contacts in order to launch my project. The Eileen Kaminsky Foundation came to my help, and I joined the Mana Contemporary center in Jersey City, New Jersey, in early April this year. The Eileen Kaminsky program selects eight artists for each three-month residency. Successful candidates are given access to a private studio and a $1,000 budget for purchasing equipment. Artist residencies are a rite of passage after artistic studies in the United States, and far more common than in France. Some residencies even provide accommodation!
What do artists hope to achieve by taking part in a residency?
Everyone’s goal is to create a first collection of work and develop a network of contacts. I would even say that these are the two essential requirements for being exhibited in a gallery. In support of these objectives, Eileen Kaminsky organizes an annual dinner attended by collectors, gallery owners, museum directors and famous artists looking to meet the residents in the program. There are so many talented artists-in-residence, so being innovative and sociable is vital if you want to stand out.
Can you walk us through a typical day in the residency?
I am working in one of the 200 studios at the Mana Contemporary center in Jersey City from April until June this year. I was one of eight artists selected, and we are all from diverse age groups and artistic backgrounds. Fabricio Suarez is from Uruguay, and mainly focuses on abstract landscape oil paintings. American artist Janice Sloane creates sculptures using pieces of plastic, and Nikolina Kovalenko is a Russian painter who specializes in natural landscapes. Gaby Kave is an artist from Israel who is creating a piece of work based on a photo of her mother. There are also two French painters, Lucien Murat and Frédéric Leglise. The former paints patchworks in the style of medieval tapestries, while the latter prefers colorful scenes depicting women in a Japanese ambiance. We all have lunch together every day, and share advice about our respective artistic projects. Some of us come to the residency in the evenings, while others (myself included) have families, and so work more according to office hours. The only constraint is that we have to work for at least 25 hours a week at the studio.
Which of your artistic projects led you to be selected by the Eileen Kaminsky Foundation?
My “POST” project, which is a series of paintings depicting what artists such as Andy Warhol, Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh would have posted on Instagram. My hyperrealistic paintings also make the different artists interact with each other through posted comments that offer biographical information about their personal lives and their relationship with each other. Eileen Kaminsky liked the modern aspect of my project. “POST” currently comprises ten paintings, but I am hoping to double that number by the end of June.