While a Bubbler Artist Residency is only for two months, the bond we make with our artists lasts much longer. Each of our artists is presented with a coveted Team Bubbler Forever pin at the close of their residency, but more than that, they join a tight knit community that keeps in touch, shares successes, and promotes new initiatives.
This winter, we caught up with some of our previous Artists-in-Residence - Eric Adjetey Anang (wood worker), Rachal Duggan (illustrator), and Hannah Bennett (papermaker and fiber artist) - to talk about their experiences at the Bubbler and where their current work was taking them.
Why the Bubbler Residency?
Eric: In 2016, I was showing some of my pieces (including a giant chili pepper-shaped coffin) as a part of another library event. I was carrying them through the hallway by the Bubbler, and Trent Miller saw them and chased me down to ask me about my work. He encouraged me to apply for a residency. I was new to Madison and this country, and it was a great way to settle into a new place.
Rachal: I had never done an artist residency before. I wanted to challenge myself to do something new, but I also wanted to do a residency that was more than just making my own work/having studio time. I sought out the Bubbler Residency because I thought it'd be a great way to connect with the public.
How Did the Experience Impact You?
Rachal: My work is mostly consumed online through social media. Getting to talk about drawing and my art face-to-face with people helped me develop new ideas. I also got to see people react to my work which was really exciting.
Hannah: Having the opportunity to set up a community paper and textile studio was a real privilege. It was a chance to try out ideas for the future when I have my own studio. And I did meet a lot of really wonderful people--one woman made a point of coming to an opening I had recently.
Stories that Stay With You?
Eric: I loved having the kids come in and ask me about my work. The piece that was in the Bubbler was a coffin shaped like a shoe. One little boy asked me if it was a shoe for a giant. I explained it was a coffin for someone to be buried in. And yes, you can touch it and look inside.
Hannah: One of my favorite days was in the last week of my residency when two policemen came in. They were part of a youth outreach program, and because it was raining, they couldn’t go swimming as they had planned with the kids. I spontaneously offered to teach paper-making for the afternoon, and we all had a great time. Everyone, including the officers, made paper. It was nice to be able to offer something unusual and have it appreciated.
Rachal: I had a lot of folks drop in who wanted to try drawing but were intimidated. It was humbling to have people show up to challenge themselves. I often find that those who think they can't draw, draw the best. It reminded me that you have to try in order to see what you are capable of.
What Are You Working on Now?
Eric: I'm still working on the dinosaur coffin I started while I was in the Bubbler, but I am also working on a drum with an inscription to talk about language and culture. It's called "back to your roots." When I meet my Ghanian brothers and sisters in Madison, they are all speaking in English. The language is not something they appreciate; they take it for granted. I am trying to teach my son to speak to 3 Ghanian languages, and this piece is a celebration of that African culture.
Hannah: I’ve been doing residencies all over the place. I went to Kansas, Maine, and now upstate New York. In New York, I’m doing an Art-in-Ed Residency at Women’s Studio Workshop. It’s very similar to what I did at the Bubbler, although more formalized. Specific school groups come and make paper with me for a day, as well as making my own work.
Rachal: Since my residencies with the Bubbler, I've done a handful of other public and private events in Madison and Chicago, including a neighborhood library residency at Monroe Street Library. But, this year my primary focus is on creating new work. One area I keep going back to is storytelling. I'm fascinated by hearing people share stories and illustrating them. I also plan to share some of my own, too.
The Bubbler team is so lucky to have this community of artists connected to the library. Interested in joining that community?
Our current application is currently through May 31st for the 2020 year. Residencies run for 2 months at a time, all year long. Our residents have ranged from bespoke coffin makers, to paper & textile artists, illustrators, digital music producers, and social practice artists. We can't wait to see what the next round will bring!
Apply today: madisonbubbler.org/artist-in-residence-application
You can learn more about all of our Artists-in-Residence, their time with us, and connect to their own websites at the Bubbler's Artist-in-Residence site.
Check out Eric's amazing recent story on Wisconsin Public Television.