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A New Residency Program for Puerto Rican Arts Professionals Begins in New York

Jorge González, Banquetas Chévere (Chévere Stools), 2016, dyed cotton cord on constructed teak wood.

COURTESY THE ARTIST AND EMBAJADA, SAN JUAN

Artists Alliance Inc., a New York–based nonprofit, and Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, an organization dedicated to Puerto Rican and Latinx culture, have partnered with San Juan-based gallery Embajada to establish a residency program in New York for artists, writers, and curators who live in, or are from, Puerto Rico. The fully-funded, studio-based residencies are held at the Clemente building—where AAI was founded and operates—on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

The 2018 cohort includes artists Rebecca Adorno, Cristine Brache, and Jorge González, and curator Natalia Viera. This year’s artists-in-residence were invited to participate by Embajada. The gallery will continue to work with the residency program through its initial six-month trial period.

“We left it up to [Embajada] to identify artists who would best exemplify the mission of the program and best use the resources,” AAI’s director, Jodi Waynberg, told ARTnews.

The impetus for the new program came from “a lot of conversations about what it means to have a nonprofit on the Lower East Side right now,” on the occasion of AAI’s 20th anniversary, according to Waynberg. As the neighborhood becomes increasingly unaffordable for many of its longtime residents, AAI leadership has discussed ways in which its programming and resources could have the biggest impact for the local community.

“This new studio opened up in the Clemente, and we proposed that they create a residency program that directly responds to the Clemente’s mission,” she said. “[This new residency was created] to really make opportunities for this community that isn’t being explicitly supported by a lot of institutions.”

The continuation of the residency program “is still funding dependent,” according to Waynberg, and she said that AAI and the Clemente view this year as a trial period. The two organizations intend to renew the program in 2019 with a panel reviewing applications from potential residents.

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