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Ellen Picken Goes to Vermont with a GAP

Ellen Picken

2010 & 2013 Grants for Artist Projects recipient

Ellen Picken, Rock pools, graphite, ink on panel, 33"x44", 2013

In 2013 I was awarded a Grants for Artist Projects (GAP), giving me $1,500 for travel, art supplies, shipping and other expenditures at my Vermont Studio Center Residency this September. My residency was also funded through the VSC and Joan Mitchell Fellowship.

The GAP gave me the means to challenge myself in the studio. By freeing me of material and shipping costs, I could make work in the same vein but on a larger scale of my previous pieces. Determining which materials to use is an important factor in the outcome of any creative process. I wanted to keep up the momentum with the skills I had built over the year using specific methods and not have to change gears or limit myself because of cost.

Finishing the month with work to show was a goal for attending the residency. At the time of being awarded the Fellowship, I was not entirely sure I could afford to send my potential drawings home. The GAP grant made this possible.

The Vermont Studio Center is no ordinary art residency. It hosts 50 artists and writers a month essentially creating an international village of creative thinkers. This alone expanded my understanding of art making, theory and process tenfold. Spending a month with writers was an exciting change. Their ability to think in narrative, in abstract, rhythm and sound deepened my approach to visual art. In addition to that exposure, every week two professional artists and writers presented their work in the lecture hall and met us for one-on-one critiques. Irving Petlin, Nina Katchadourian and Robert Henry graced my studio. These encounters reinforced the path I am taking as an artist. I had the opportunity to lecture on my work to the VSC residents and community of Johnston. Finding I could speak confidently gave me another tool I need in my belt to build my career as an artist.

Most importantly, attending the residency gave me time to work consistently and challenge myself. I finished twice as much work than I would have at home in the same span of time.

Not only am I bringing work and experience back to Washington, I helped spread a rooted understanding of rural Washington to people from all parts of the world.

Because of the GAP, already I am in discussions about an exhibition in Spokane. I will be sure to keep Artist Trust updated!

Read more about Ellen.