Each summer, several young artists and writers are invited to live and work at Byrdcliffe as Program Assistants. The talented individuals chosen help keep the Artist-in-Residence program smoothly flowing and help out with other colony activities. In exchange, they get an individual studio and the opportunity to take part in the residency program. We love our PA’s for their energy, excitement and dedication to Byrdcliffe, we couldn’t run the program without them! Below, our first two PA’s introduce themselves:
Q. Where are you from and why did you come to Byrdcliffe?
A. I’m from Los Angeles, CA. I originally came to Byrdcliffe last year as a resident to work on my craft as a writer. My experience was positive and productive and hoping to replicate this experience, I’ve returned.
Q. Is there anything about the residency program or the Hudson Valley Area that you find particularly inspiring?
A. The community within the program is wonderful. Simply being surrounded by so many thoughtful and talented individuals has benefited my development as a writer. The scenery as well must be noted–the quiet forested landscape, the rustic quality of life–I think this bucolic lifestyle creates the kind of environment most conducive to my own creative endeavors.
Q. Can you describe a particular day as a program assistant at Byrdcliffe?
A. There is no typical day as a program assistant. Tasks range from administrative work to building maintenance to managing interpersonal affairs. It’s all contingent upon the cohort, the schedule of events, and the circumstantial things that remain outside our control. In particular, the day of the welcome dinner proved to be quite memorable and hectic as it involved lots of cooking, meeting and greeting the residents, as well as just some basic logistical problem solving.
Q. Alison, you are from Woodstock; does spending time at Byrdcliffe enrich your experience of your hometown, or helped you to see it in a different way?
A. Definitely! I have felt fortunate to grow up in an area so supportive of the arts. I have a great love for my roots here in Woodstock and being able to experience and now become involved with Byrdcliffe has been really special for me as I begin my professional transition as a young artist. Byrdcliffe is something I hope to remain involved with.
Q. Could you describe a typical day as a program assistant?
A. A typical day as a program assistant involves participating in the creative and residential atmosphere here. That means, getting to know your neighboring artists individually and being able to make sure that they are comfortable and that they have all the necessary ingredients needed for a productive session. Then there is also helping to maintain the upkeep of the residential buildings and documenting the Artists In Residence Program with photos, writings and events to give the public a glimpse of the great things going on here. When all is done for the day, I get to retreat back to my own studio here at Byrdcliffe and create my own art works.
Q. In what way do you think Byrdcliffe’s residency program is affecting the artists who participate?
A. I’ve spoken to many of the artists who come from cities and environments much different from here. Although they are living in a community, there is lots of privacy and quiet working times where the only thing to be heard are birds and running streams. With the physical world around them, so still and peaceful, there are less distractions which might allow them to pick at their own creative minds with more ease. I think a lot of the artists are loving this serenity here. Come Open Studios, it will be interesting to see the work produced and see how it differs from their previous works before experiencing Byrdcliffe.