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DIRT PALACE CLASIC RESIDENCY
At any given time there are five "members" or Artists in Residence at the location in Olneyville Sq that we now refer to as “Dirt Palace Classic”. Together they have built and maintained studios and shared facilities that include: seven live/work artist in residence spaces, a library, a large shared kitchen, a print shop (specializing in screen print and letterpress), a music rehearsal space, a wood shop, an animation/film editing suite, and a workspace for large projects.
Members work together to create an environment conducive to challenging thoughts and radical actions in order to cultivate their personal growth as individuals, and to foster the development of strong, thoughtful, independent feminists who use their creative awareness of the world to change it. The Dirt Palace is trans-inclusive, strives to be accountable and to work intersectionally.
Q - What is the opportunity?
The opportunities at Dirt Palace Classic located in Olneyville Square are long term residencies, and work-only studio spaces. Residencies are for a1 year term with the opportunity to renew for another term.
Residencies offer artists:
ample live and work space at a below-market-rate rent (each artist has an upstairs bedroom large enough to use for projects as well as an optional downstairs work studio in the flexible floor plan “big room”)
Facility access: screenprint and letterpress studio, music practice space, wood shop, library
Support & dialog with fellow artists-in-residence, as well as community and friends of the Dirt Palace such as board members and alumni.
Periodic opportunities to show work/have work featured
Q - How are new members selected?
Potential new members are recommended by community nominators, or have expressed interest directly. Prospective new members fill out an application via google form. Finalists are invited to a conversation to reciprocally ask questions. The review panel consists of current members, board, staff, and community members.
Q - When are applications accepted? and how do I find out about application opportunities?
Applications are accepted 2 months before an opening will be available. Applications opportunities are announced via our newsletter (as well as right here on this page of this website!).
Currently the application process is not open.
Q - If I’ve never lived in Providence, or lived with a group of artists before can I apply?
Yes, most applicants have not previously lived with a group of artists before. Familiarity with Providence is not required, however applicants should be realistic about what it takes to get situated in a new city in terms of work, social connections and support systems.
Q - Is formal or traditional arts education important to my application? Do I need a CV?
A - No. No need for a formal arts education to apply. In addition, it is very rare that we accept applicants directly out of undergraduate programs. We prioritize artists which some experience outside of institutional and education frameworks and support systems.
Q - Dirt Palace is described as a feminist project and sometimes as space for women artists. If I don’t identify strictly as a woman or as a woman at all, is Dirt Palace still a place for me?
Yes! While Dirt Palace was originally founded as a feminist arts space supporting women artists, scope has broadened, and artists of many gender identities have lived in the space. To quote previous writing on this subject at Dirt Palace: “We acknowledge that gender is a wide, nuanced, and shifting field with many differences across cultures and places and over time. We also acknowledge that the current identity of any individual person is not fixed; that the identities that a person presents, or feels they must present, may not, or may not wholly, describe a more complex experience of gender, sexuality, etc. that they may have.”
Q - The work I make doesn’t doesn’t feel like it ‘fits’ with the work I’ve seen come out of Dirt Palace. Does the Dirt Palace tend to select residents whose work is in conversation with current members’ work?
Great question! There are some media that the Dirt Palace is more poised to support. For example the Screen Printing Studio is a fairly well oiled machine, and the library is pretty established, so artists working with print, comics, and zines are set up with more resources than say someone working with traditional photographic processes, or with oil paint. The music practice room has also been host to a lot of projects.
There have definitely been a lot of artist residents whose work doesn’t fall into these areas. We want studios to be used and for what exists at the Dirt Palace to meet resident needs, but this can take many forms. There have been artists who decided to start working in light metals and wood. They ended up having to put energy into creating a set up, but ended up with very productive studio practices.
That long answer explains why there are certain media (like screen printing or music) that many Dirt Palace artists have used. However the short answer is that we don’t feel that artists’ work has to “look like” other artists’ work at Dirt Palace. With a bit of a deep dive, we think that observers may find that a fairly wide variety of aesthetics and approaches have emerged from the studios! And we’re hoping to expand that even more, which is part of the impetus for shifting to an application process that includes people beyond just current members.
Q - I know some Dirt Palace members make a living off their art. How does Dirt Palace accommodate this and other art practices? What if I have different priorities for my art practice?
We value all sorts of ways that artists relate to their practice and do not prioritize artists who make a living off of their art or are financially supported by their art work. We do recognize that making a living off of art is a goal for some members and that the studios and facilities of the Dirt Palace can play a role in members working to achieve this goal. With this in mind, it's important to have open dialogue about the different needs of members in using the space to meet their personal and professional creative goals.
Q - I see that you have more than one slot open at this time. If I’m interested in applying “with” someone who I’m interested in living and participating in this project alongside of, is that possible?
Yes! We’re very open to this. Each person will have to go through the application process individually. If you are “a package deal” and only interested in coming in together, please notate that on your application.
LIVING AT DIRT PALACE
Q - How much does it cost to live at the Dirt Palace?
Membership rent for a live/work studio AND a work only downstairs studio including all utilities, heat and internet at the Dirt Palace is $500 per month. We collect a security deposit and last month’s rent, however this can be done via a payment plan over time (outlined in Occupancy & Consciousness doc). There is also the possibility of a membership that does not include a downstairs work studio. This costs $400. A work-only downstairs studio is $150.
Q - Who would I be living with?
You would be living with current members who are continuing their residency, and new members coming on through this process. You will have an opportunity to meet the existing members during the application process. However, because we are often filling multiple residency spots at once when terms end, unless you apply “with” other people, you will not have the opportunity to meet other new members until the tail end of the process (likely virtually)
Q - What is it like living at the Dirt Palace?
In terms of typical living accommodations, Dirt Palace has several perks, like free in-house laundry, free off-street parking, genuinely warm indoor winter temperatures, and an overabundance of kitchen utensils. It's also pretty big. Each floor is about 4,500 square feet with ceilings that are about 12’ tall.
The space itself has been added to by a number of artists who’ve passed through the halls, and sometimes the aesthetic is referred to as maximalist. When there is not a national pandemic, there are often shows and community events that are organized by the resident-members of the space.
As a space that sometimes gets lumped into the category of “co-op”, the Dirt Palace is fairly far to the side of individualism, if there were an individualist/collective spectrum. There are a number of commitments that residents make to each other, but the expectations in terms of labor and time contributed to the project are much lower than say co-ops that buy food together and prepare meals for each other every day.
Q - Do I have to be best friends with other residents?
While there’s no prescription or road maps for relationships at the Dirt Palace, members do have to work alongside each other and maintain a functioning group dynamic with other residents. Good faith efforts to listen, understand each other’s perspectives and to get along can go a long way to making participation in the Dirt Palace a positive experience. Awareness of how one’s actions and behaviors affect others is critical to living in connection and community.
Q - Can I bring my cat/dog/turtle?
We have a one cat at a time rule. This is a strict rule - you have no idea how much cat piss has secretly soaked into the floors over the years from cat wars before this rule. If your cat lives at the Dirt Palace, their litter box must be kept in your bedroom/personal space. We generally have a one “pet” at a time rule - but have broken this when a member had prairie dogs that had their own enclosed home. If you want to have a snail, turtle or fish in your room, that’s chill. We have a general “no dogs” rule because dogs generally don’t work at Dirt Palace. We have broken this rule once for the most saintly dog that never, ever barked and also would never even think of eating things off the ground and could be left alone without destruction. There are currently two dogs who come over sometimes. There is currently one cat living at the Dirt Palace presently. To simplify, additional cats or dogs are a no at this time.
GENERAL EXPECTATIONS OF DIRT PALACE RESIDENTS
Q - I want to make sure that I’d have enough time to participate in the Dirt Palace fully and would not be burning myself out, or letting collaborators in the project down. What are the expectations in terms of time?
Time commitments break down:
Meetings 2-3 hs/week per meeting (3 per month) = 6-9hrs/mo
1hr/week kitchen day/chore x 4 = 4/mo
1hr/week on your overlord commitment = 4/mo
1 work day/month = 8/mo
Cooking for house meeting once every 2 months
Posting in the DP E-digest once every 1.5 months
There is probably about an hour or so per week of relationship and special project upkeep communications, texts/emails etc. rounding out the commitment to about 20-25 hrs/month or around 6-7 hours/week. Keep in mind that some of these hours are spent on chores, cleaning and space maintenance which, likely, would be something that time would have to be dedicated to no matter where a person was living. There are pet-projects that members take on that might overlap with their own creative practices, and times when members decide together to take on projects that extend commitments on interpersonal levels. The development of personal or creative relationships is not overly prescribed and left to some degree for members to navigate individually.
Q - What are residents expected to ‘give’?
Residents are expected to attend a weekly house meeting. At the end of each house meeting one member talks about what they’ve been working on recently in the studio. Once a month we skip the meeting and have a workday where residents work on improving the studios together. In addition, each member is responsible for heading some aspect of the space (or being the “overlord”). Some examples are the print shop, library, events, etc. Residents also have to keep up with chores, do a rotation on the snow shoveling front and do basic upkeep things.
STRUCTURE AND AGENCY AT DIRT PALACE
Q - I’ve seen the phrases “self organized” and “artist run” and “collective” used in talking about this project, what are meant by these terms?
Oof...well many books and volumes have been written trying to get at the bottom of these terms. Some are so jargony and dense that it can take like an hour to wade through a paragraph. However, here are some basic definitions and quotes that might be helpful as well as answers on a practical level as it pertains to the Dirt Palace.
“My understanding of the term “self-organised” within the art context is that it describes how groups, collectives, and other networks of individuals can operate independently from institutional and corporate structures. Self-organised initiatives appear to have strived to be non-hierarchical and conduct their decision-making processes along the lines of open participatory models” David Blamey, “Self-Organized” page 11
Wikipedia offers a definition of an “Artist Run Space”: “An artist-run space is a gallery or other facility operated or directed by artists, frequently circumventing the structures of public art centers, museums, or commercial galleries and allowing for a more experimental program.”
Wikipedia also has a pretty good definition to offer for the term “collective”: a group of entities that share or are motivated by at least one common issue or interest, or work together to achieve a common objective.
There are a number of words that are often associated with the word collective, oddly many of them also start with the letter “c”: cooperative, collaborative, commune, consensus, community. Art collectives often produce and promote work together, which is not exactly the model that the Dirt Palace fits into. The Dirt Palace is specifically a residential project organized around sharing space for living and working. Members work near and alongside each other in an open floor plan studio, but usually doing their own individual projects. Members often talk about ideas, and sometimes collaborate, but frequently this is informal or organic (a discussion while making breakfast, a quick one off project planned while putting away groceries).
At a given time, the members of the Dirt Palace consist of the artists who reside within the space plus founding members Pippi Zornoza and Xander Marro who have studios at the Dirt Palace and have been a throughline since the project’s formation. Pippi & Xander have moved on to become staff of the organization, which has grown since the time of its inception. There is a Board of Directors who are responsible for long term visioning of the organization, however day to day running of the space is predominantly left in the hands of the members. Examples of activities that fall under the purview of the membership include; running the studios/facilities, organizing events, coordinating art-talks about each other's works and more specifics that are laid out in detail in the Occupancy and Consciousness Document.
Q - It seems both like there are lots of rules and lots of flexibility - what gives?
You could call them “rules” but we might choose to label these as “guidelines” or to call it “structure”. Our belief is that people need understanding and limitations in order to collaborate and interact with each other. Either people make up and self define these limitations and express them explicitly (in weird lengthy documents such as, say the Occupancy and Consciousness Agreement that Dirt Palace members commit to), or default to the de facto rules, logics, and ethics prescribed by dominant cultures and their institutions. We’re not claiming to be outside of the influence of culture or society, but we do aspire to work together to creatively build ways of sharing time and space that can be more conducive to developing positive relationships, trust and growth than some of the structures that are part of the pre-invented world (to borrow a phrase from David Wojnarowicz).
We aim to build flexibility into our structures because change is an important value to us, and openness and flexibility seem to be good places where change can start. We make changes to our organizing documents at least once a year at a special work-day called a ‘summit’ where codifying changes to policy and protocol happen when we jointly edit the occupancy and conscious document. Not everything is flexible all of the time and limitations are not just based on desired structures for collaboration, but also on practical realities of limits on things such as time, money and capacity.
Q - It seems challenging to manage COVID-19 in a collective space, how does that work.
This is a summation of the core components of our COVID-19 protocol. The full strategy including definitions of terms and specifics is here. All potential members must read and agree to the full protocol.
Everyone must agree to, and actively practice, the individual mitigation strategies below:
Everyone must agree to immediately inform the group of any symptoms they are experiencing.
Everyone must take collective action immediately based on information regarding symptoms or positive test results. Actions include: self isolating, getting tested (see for outline of action steps)
Everyone must agree to immediately notify others of information that might indicate that others could be at risk, such as if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
We assume everyone is potentially infected or sick if one person tests positive, and adjust group actions accordingly.
Risk activities should be brought up to the entire group before being acted on (examples of risk activities include: attending a large gathering unmasked)
Risk activities that were encountered unintentionally should be communicated to the entire group as a heads up
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