The Create Award is a 6-month residency for recent graduates from creative disciplines (fine arts, digital art, performing arts, etc.). Selected candidates receive a 6-month membership at Art Gym Denver, and a final exhibition and/or performance in Art Gym’s professional gallery space.
What is the Create Award?
Who It's For
The Create Award is for recent graduates (within the past 2 years) from Art or Performing Arts programs. If you graduated in 2021 or later, you’re eligible to apply in 2023.
The goal of this residency is to support recently graduated artists in continued creation through access to equipment, mentoring and exhibitions. The first years out of art school is critical to the development of professional artistic practices. Artists who launch immediately into their chosen field are more likely to achieve success. The Create Award can endeavor to facilitate this launch.
What You Need To Do
Prepare a 500-1000 word proposal that outlines general goals and your intended direction for the culminating exhibition/performance. Be sure to include some visual examples or video, and a rough timeline of milestones for the project. Next, get a letter of recommendation from a faculty member and a couple of references, and you’re set.
(Pro Tip: Before you apply, it’s a good idea to stop by Art Gym or contact us to set up a tour so you’re familiar with the space you’ll be working and exhibiting/performing in.)
During the residency, the successful applicant will receive:
- 6 month membership at Art Gym Denver
- Use of equipment and workspaces*
- Help with strategy and scheduling to realize exhibition goals
- Ongoing planning and critique sessions with prominent artists and curators
- Materials stipend (TBD)
- Exhibition or Performance with opening reception
*some restrictions apply
- Submission Opens: Open year round
- Submission Deadline: The third Friday in June
- Interviews: The last week (M-F) of June
- Announcement of Residents: First week of July
- Residency: Mid-July to Mid-January
- Exhibition/Performance: End of January
Questions? Email our Curator and Artist Mentor.
How Do I Apply?
Please fill out the form to apply.
I wanted to create a site-specific piece for the Art Gym Performance Studio, utilizing its features and spaciousness to mirror distinct memories and feelings occurring in my psyche. My process unfolded through extended periods of dancing in the dark (losing track of my body), and dancing to the mirror (becoming hyper-observant of my body); dualities became extremely important to me: light vs. dark, contentment vs. longing, introspection vs. extroversion. By placing competing dualities next to one another through dance, I wanted to expose a queer in-between-ness that speaks to how moving through the world in my body requires a shifting between many things, often at once. I wanted to make a piece that utilized shadows and projection (invoking Jungian and Freudian psychoanalytic theory) to highlight the limitations we place upon ourselves, often resultant of external criticism. How does the external come to shape the internal, which then goes on to reshape our external relation to ourselves, others, and the world? How can we act as our own bystanders and intervene in this process in reimagining our lives towards more rest, graciousness, and freedom?
The opportunity to work at Art Gym was an amazing experience that allowed me not only to grow my technical skills, but also advance my thinking and philosophies when approaching my practice. I am forever indebted to the staff and my peers for their comments and critiques as Art Gym truly served as a proving ground for experimentation, learning, and development.
In my time at Art Gym, I worked on expanding my vocabulary in painting to evolve from realism to abstraction. In my time there I gained great insight in to combining these two modes of expression in order to tell more complex and insightful narratives around the broad topics I had always wanted to approach.
Throughout the residency, I worked on black and white linocuts depicting the various days of a 200-mile walking pilgrimage I completed in Northern Spain called the Camino de Santiago. Each print intentionally took the audience on their own walking experience by immersing with the image and narrative artist statement. The final project had 11 linocuts that varied between two sizes and included significant landmarks, cultural references, and Camino symbols.
Describing the project for the create award, Thinh Dinh explains “Having immigrated to the United States at a young age, I didn’t feel attached to Vietnam yet felt like an outsider in my new “home.” In my work, I create liminal spaces, a state of in-between-ness and ambiguity that encourages transition, through fictitious landscapes to explore the reconstruction of cultural identity filtered by childhood memories and feelings of displacement & isolation.
“Using silhouettes from found vessels as a framing device I create a visual language that fuses these two worlds. The commentary focuses on consumerism, constructions of cultural identity and my reflections on contemporary events. These spaces serve as mind maps, with symbols & memories nested within one another, an odd mix of old & new. My imagined landscapes are the result of the collision between East and West, inviting viewers to ponder the immigrant experience.”
In a statement about her painting practice, Grace Hoag states: “I make large scale acrylic paintings on canvas that explore themes of mental illness and the processes of coping and healing. I use the painting process to better understand my disorders.
“The paintings are physically large and psychologically heavy; these elements dominate, skewing one’s sense of stability in body and mind. I use strange proportions, layers of disharmonious colors, and a variety of brushstrokes to create disquieting moods in the paintings.
“I paint one hour at a time: the length of a therapy session. I use a meditation statement or key word while I work to imbue the paint with memory of that feeling.
“The colors I use tend to be pastel or vibrant, but by thinly layering them over days and weeks I create color mixes that evoke complex emotions. My painting process, like recovery, is repetitive: reground and repeat.”
In a statement for her dance video performance Floral Tea, Justice Miles explains: “In the past, I have often created dances that grapple with existing in a liminal space. As a biracial African American/Norwegian American woman, I was interested in creating work that explored the in-between spaces of flamenco and contemporary dance while also examining themes around history, race, and identity. Floral Tea, however, presents a new theme for my work: healing. I wanted to create something healing at this point in my life, so I turned towards the vibrant vibrations and energy that plants exuded. The mythological, medicinal, artistic, and historical information that exists on plants seems to hold an endless well of artistic inspiration and has been a delight to research. I now see why so many artists have turned to flora for inspiration.”
UCD alumnus Samantha Manion combines painting and quilting to create set-like installations. Her work is focused on inherited family tradition, utilizing lessons taught to her by her mother to draw meaning in her practice. In her artist statement for the exhibition, Manion explains “My great Grandma Concha made abstract artwork decades before the Modernists. She sewed blankets and quilts exclusively from found materials (scraps). Her patterns varied from tight and controlled to organic shapes that she had pieced together. These quilts were the first abstracts I ever studied. My hands would smooth out over the quilt feeling the wrinkles in the lace, velvet, and sequined fabric. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized these were no longer just functional objects, but instead an entity with sensuous form and no fear of color…I was taught by my mother to quilt and she was taught by her mother.”
Brigitte Thompson, an alumnus of MSU, developed her series Primary. With a plan to explore race and identity, Thompson continued to experiment with her artistic practice throughout the 6-month residency. Through this experimentation, she discovered the need to build on previously learned skills. She explains in her artist statement, “Having focused on identity to fuel many creative endeavors in the past, in Primary, the artist chose to make a body of work that diverted from her usual subject matter to tackle something that would assist her in better expressing herself in future artistic projects. What results is a series that is more about practice, and less about theory.” The work she is exhibiting in Diverging Paths is the evidence of this diversion; a series of paintings exploring the possibilities of magenta, cyan and yellow.
In her project proposal – Everything I Know – for the Create Award, recipient Allie Sutterer explains: “Sewing is a skill passed down to me through generations of family members. In this exhibition, I use an inherited skill to not only mark and change images of childhood, but also cherish and reflect on the ideas my family lovingly passed down to me as fact.” Her childhood photography, thread, embroidery and framing come together to assist Sutterer in her exploration of how we restructure what we were taught as children into what we have come to know as adults. By veiling portions of her original childhood photographs with carefully composed embroidery and matting, she forces the viewer reflect on how their own childhoods and the evolution of their beliefs.
Autumn Thomas’ series Prevails Unpoetic is a self-fulfilling prophecy; a collection of sculptures, developed through mindful dedication and a willingness to modify her original plan of action. In her artist statement she writes “These sculptures offer a dynamic view of the seemingly impossible: the bending and balancing of an assumed rigid structure. This unexpected placement and balance are the essence of survival – the impetus on which survival thrives.” In her six-month residency, Thomas’ sculptures changed from a means to house prints, into singular objects which stand as the works themselves. She uses kerf-cuts to manipulate the wood, giving her the control over a normally inflexible material. The results are beautiful evidences of transformation and change.
Rowan Salem, a recent transplant to Denver, used her dance background to create a dance-film installation titled Lapse, projecting her choreography onto transparent fabric and everyday objects in the space. Her work deals with themes of subjective reality, inviting viewers to consider the way information in their environment is revealed and seen, and the ways it is hidden and unseen. In her statement for the work, Salem explains that she “is interested in both illuminating the fluid qualities of perspective through formal design elements, and also in engaging with ideas about perceptual agency for both the performer and audience member.”
In Unseen, K. Vuletich exhibited a series inspired by her work at Urban Peak, a local homeless shelter for teens. For this body of work Vuletich spent time interviewing some of her clients, crafting mixed media portraits and using found objects to represent their stories and experiences. Talking about her process, she explained “Mimicking the work of early Pop artists, such as James Rosenquist, I juxtapose text and images to re-contextualize. I examine the seemingly mundane by isolating and reframing un-noticed details of everyday life. Incorporating trash and found objects, I aim to re-purpose and create somethings beautiful and compelling from something that would otherwise be unwanted waste.”
In Earth.Air.Water.Fire.Love, Lindsey Ernst created metalsmith works of intricate beauty. Her work is a unique interpretation of wearable heirlooms that give homage to both our past and future. From her geometric lines to the intuitive designs, her work tells an ancient story that is conveyed through playful and sculptural objects. In her artist statement for the show, she writes “I think of my work as time-pieces; ones that links us with the past and future. While I enjoy creating a futuristic quality, there is always an archaic and heirloom value in my work. I find it liberating to rummage the Earth, looking for my next inspiration.”