In 2014 Marwen partnered with ACRE (Artist’s Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions) to create a scholarship opportunity for a Marwen alumni accepted into their residency program. ACRE not only supports emerging artists with its residency in rural Wisconsin, but also provides all its residents with exhibition opportunities in Chicago during the year. We were delighted to have alumna and teaching artist, Victoria Martinez, be the first recipient of this remarkable new opportunity. We asked Victoria to share her experience at ACRE this past summer.
Can you describe what the ACRE residency entails and what did you get out of the experience?
The ACRE residency is so much fun! It includes studio space, screenprinting, weaving, sound, and wood shop facilities, a solid visiting artist program with studio visits, lectures, artist talks, and participatory events like dance parties, concerts, bonfires, carnivals, and demolition derbies. I enjoyed my studio visits with artists and curators because it gave me the chance to talk about current projects and receive feedback, which was very positive. One thing that I miss about art school is the critiques, so the studio visits were very significant to me. I also gathered a new air of inspiration and look forward to creating a fresh body of work for the upcoming exhibition at ACRE Projects.
How did you spend your time at the residency and what were you able to accomplish during your time there?
I spent my time in my studio sewing flower petals and balloons. I went on nature walks, searching for plants to outline with tablecloths and paint. I took weaving lessons and experimented with materials such as shorts, grocery bags, and streamers. I also began a site-specific installation near the fire pit and collaborated with my roommate on video documenting the process of me throwing paint filled eggs as I was blindfolded. I collected images of decaying rugs on wood and screenprinted it on tarps and fabric, and learned how to make frames in the woodshop. I also participated in video editing workshops and attended many artist lectures and presentations.
What advice would you give other Marwen alumni who have the opportunity to participate in the ACRE residency?
ACRE was such an energetic learning experience in the countryside. This residency helped me develop a new perspective in my practice that I am excited to pursue and I hope more Marwen alumni join the fun. My advice to Marwen alumni is to invite as many visiting artists to their studio and be prepared to share their portfolio. I would also come prepared with a project goal list and some materials since the nearest stores are miles away. Also, my advice is to take independent nature walks. It's a great time to reflect especially since Chicago doesn't have too many trees.
What next steps are in store for you as an artist and how might you bring your experience back to the Marwen community?
I am currently developing projects for exhibitions at ACRE Projects, The Riverside Arts Center, and Comfort Station. I will also be leading art lessons at the Chicago Children’s Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art in the spring, and my artwork will be featured in The Pattern Base: Over 550 Contemporary Textile and Surface Designs and Art Against the Law, published through the University of Chicago Press. I also look forward to bringing my experience back to the Marwen community by leading classes such as experimental material practices, pattern play with installation, paper and soft sculpture projects. In the future, I would like also to invite artists from the publications to come in and present about their practices and collaborate with my students and I in special projects.