Signal Fire

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Artist Residencies have long provided two fundamental things an artist needs: space and time. Many residencies are located in rural areas as a way to give artists a focused separation, not only mentally but physically, from their daily routine. A new outcropping of residencies take this idea a step further by providing off-grid, self-sufficient sites for artists to live and work.Signal Fire is the first in a series of Site/Project Profiles that will present some of these hyper-isolated residencies. Like many off-grid residencies, Signal Fire aspires to provide “opportunities for artists to engage in the natural world in a way that will inspire and inform their work.” Their programming includes two one-week Outpost Residencies and an annual backpacking Retreat. Applications for summer 2011 are due April, 1st.

Signal Fire

Address: 514 N Fremont St. Portland, OR 97227
Contact/Email: Ryan Pierce {ryan@signalfirearts.org}
Website: www.signalfirearts.org
Phone: n/a
Open Hours: n/a

How is the project operated? (for-profit, nonprofit, artist-run, etc)
How long has it been in existence?
3 years
What was your motivation?
We think that the self-sufficiency and calm generated from wilderness living translates well to many artists’ urban lives and careers.
Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project:
2 co-founders and currently 2 additional trip leaders
How are programs funded? (ie membership fees, public funding, sponsors, etc.)
We currently run this project out-of-pocket.
Who is responsible for the programming? (curators, directors, etc)
Amy Harwood and Ryan Pierce, co-founders.
Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year:
We try to change from year to year. The Outpost Residency is in its third year and we plan to offer at least one backpacking trip. We have done an exhibition each year and our journal, Leaf Litter, is in its second year.
What kind of events are usually organized?
Wilderness residencies and retreats. Sometimes urban workshops, exhibitions, or parties.
How is your programming determined?
By the whisky-fueled whims of the founders.
Do you accept proposals/submissions?
What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
We ask past residents to jury submissions so that we can focus on recruiting applicants. It is worth noting that our programming is not restricted to artists who use environmental themes in their work.
What’s working? What’s not working?
Working: determination, big canvas tents, summer in Oregon, new friends, 63 chevy (barely working), traveling light, staying flexible, medical training, box wine, Tasty Bite, guitars at the campfire, lazy days, skinny dipping, public land, word-of-mouth, help from many friends
Not Working: we’ll eventually need a more consistent funding solution, but we’re determined to do that without compromising our ability to change the project at will.
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
We consider ourselves a support project for other artists (and writers, dancers, musicians). Some of our activities deliberately nurture crossover between artists and activists.
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
Floating the Danube River from the Black Forest to the Black Sea.
Images courtesy of Signal Fire.

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