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apexart Fellowship: When Artists Are Not Allowed to Make Art

The apexart Fellowship is an alternative educational program that invites creative individuals for a month-long stay in a foreign country. Fellows must agree not to make new work, not to research new work, and not network while in the program.

apexart Fellows, left to right: Linda Schrank in Melbourne, Australia, 2017; John Beattie in New York City, 2015; Bảo Châu Ngô Đình in NYC, 2018; Radha Gomaty in NYC, 2018.

There’s been an explosion in the number of artist residencies worldwide, many of which offer some combination of the same thing: travel, studio space, networking opportunities, and the promise of an exhibition or talk. One established program swims against the current.

Since 1999, apexart has been doing things differently. The apexart Fellowship is a rigorous personal development program for invited artists and curators with three requirements: Fellows must agree not to make new work, not to research new work, and not network while in the program. Travel is still an important component; New Yorkers fly to an international city they have never been to and internationals who have never been to New York City go there for the first time.

In lieu of a studio, Fellows follow a month-long schedule of 3-4 activities per day that vary widely in scope and subject. During the program, fellows can expect to complete up to 80 activities, from workshops, lectures, cultural performances, films, meetings, and urban explorations, to spiritual ceremonies, volunteering, psychotherapy, various tours, and fitness-related activities.

The program is based on a behavior modification model and during their stay, Fellows are introduced to many worlds outside the traditional artist residency bubble. In doing new and interesting things, as well as having time away from their usual responsibilities and activities, apexart Fellows can reflect on what they do with greater perspective. Fellows return home with a wealth of new experiences, to the benefit of their personal development and the work that they make.

In addition to New York City, apexart has hosted its Fellowship in countries such as Uganda, Uruguay, South Korea, Cambodia, South Africa, Thailand, Israel, Australia, Ethiopia, Macedonia, and New Zealand.

To learn more about the apexart Fellowship, visit apexart.org.

Download a free digital copy of apexart’s latest, The apexart Fellowship: An Experiment in Vertical Cultural Integration.