See below for detailed information about the Santa Fe Art Institute’s annual International Thematic Residency Program.
Is the Santa Fe Art Institute a school or a university?
SFAI is not a school or university. We do not offer degrees or certificates. SFAI is home to an International Thematic Artist Residency Program, Local Artist Fellowship Program, and innovative public programming that addresses social justice issues through a creative lens. We do occasionally offer public workshops, professional development courses for artists, and specialized arts curricula to targeted age groups, including youth and children.
What is the relationship between the Santa Fe University of Art and Design (SFUAD) and SFAI?
SFAI is an independent, non-profit organization located on the former campus of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design (SFUAD). SFAI is a separate entity from SFUAD and we lease our property directly from the City of Santa Fe.
Our location and beautiful building is the result of visionary thinking and significant investment in the arts in Santa Fe by John and Anne Marion and others, who began conversations with the College of Santa in the 1990’s, to develop a permanent location for SFAI and to establish an arts focus on education in midtown Santa Fe. Our building, designed by Ricardo Legorreta, was created to specifically accommodate our flagship residency program, and was the impetus for the Visual Arts Center at the College of Santa Fe (later SFUAD) in the late 1990’s.
What’s happening with the Campus?
The campus, which was originally the College of Santa Fe, is now owned by the City of Santa Fe. The City purchased the property from the College of Santa Fe in 2009, when the College closed, and leased it to SFUAD until SFUAD closed in June 2018. With the closure of SFUAD, the City is working on opportunities for appropriate use and development, so that the campus can serve as a model to help revitalize the entire Midtown District. You can learn more here about the campus, the City’s process to date, and SFAI’s partnerships with the City.
Thematic Residency Application & Selection Process
Why is there an annual theme?
SFAI implements yearlong thematic programming to address pertinent questions facing diverse regional and global communities in an effort to promote positive social change. The theme and the basic questions we pose around it are intended to be catalysts for critical thinking and provide a framework around which the diverse peoples and disciplines involved in SFAI programming can foster mutual understanding, have synergistic conversations, and potentially collaborate on common goals.
How do you select the theme each year?
The theme is based on research around current social and political trends, what artists are exploring and experimenting with in the moment, dialogues with SFAI residents and community partners, and the issues that rise to the surface in these investigations, along with various news and social media outlets.
We start with assessing the most pertinent local issues, and then make a determination by evaluating whether we can apply that to a national and international level.
How do you facilitate engagement with the annual theme?
In addition to the Guiding Questions presented in the open call for applications, resident engagement with the annual theme is facilitated by SFAI in the following ways:
- Curated cohort of diverse practitioners with interest and/or expertise in the theme, who approach it from different perspectives and methods
- Reading / Resource List
- Monthly public events that include content experts, local artists, activists, and educators
The depth and direction of resident investigations of the theme largely depend on their personal expectations, abilities, research, and commitment.
Can you facilitate connections to the local community as part of my residency? What limitations may there be to conducting research during my residency?
Although SFAI provides assistance to the extent possible to residents in navigating, researching, and drawing upon the inspiring landscape and cultures, and communities of Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico, SFAI does not facilitate specific connections to local community on behalf of residents for their individual projects.
We encourage our SFAI community, in particular residents from outside of New Mexico and the United States, to learn more about the complex histories and contemporary realities of Native Americans and Indigenous peoples, Latinx, Hispanic, Chicano/a, and Mexican Americans in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the US.
At SFAI, we utilize the principles of Participatory Action Research (PAR) or Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) as guidelines for ethical research and social engagement. For residents who want to engage in outreach to local communities during their time at SFAI, we ask that they first review the Definitions, Goals, and Principles of PAR or CBPR provided online here and here. Please note that the time required to uphold these principles may not align well with a short time commitment in Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico.
My current work does not relate to the theme. Can I still apply?
If you feel compelled, inspired, or have an idea that relates to the theme, you are encouraged to apply. A residency at SFAI is a great opportunity to explore new territory, find new focus, and engage other creative people with similar interests, but who often employ different techniques for pursuing them.
I am not a visual artist. Can I still apply?
We welcome applications from other creative practices including, but not limited to, curation, design, architecture, education, the humanities, and social sciences. We strongly encourage applicants with interdisciplinary and non-traditional creative practices. While we do not have specific facilities for each of these diverse practices, if you are accepted as a resident we will work with you to help make your residency at SFAI productive and meaningful.
I do not have a BFA, MFA, or other formal training – can / should I still apply?
We do not require any particular level of education or formal training to apply to our residency program.
What are you looking for in a project proposal and/or work samples?
SFAI welcomes proposals that entail the research, design, and initiation of new projects; continuation or completion of ongoing projects; and/or reflection upon recently completed projects.
Your proposal should describe how you would address the annual theme and how your project engages social issues through artistic experimentation, community involvement, and/or cross disciplinary impact with non-arts practices.
We seek a meaningful connection between your project proposal and the theme, with as much detail as possible related to how this connects with your current practice and past work, and the impact you feel it may have on the proposed topic. It is not helpful to the jury to spend your limited application space specifically describing a particular piece that you will create while in residency. Rather, the jury seeks to understand the inspirations for and conceptual basis of your work, how you translate these ideas through a particular medium, and your work’s potential impacts on its audience.
Be sure to describe if you are seeking to build new work, experiment with a new medium, or feel that a residency at SFAI will be a transformative experience for you in some way.
Your work samples should be of the highest artistic quality, and ideally reflect recently completed pieces that are most relevant to your project proposal.
Who reviews my application? Is the jury the same each year?
The jury changes each year and is comprised of esteemed artists, content experts, educators, community stakeholders, and other creative professionals from Santa Fe and around the world. Jurors are invited to the selection committee on the basis of their experience, connection to the thematic content, and excellence in thought leadership. They are each given a modest stipend for their participation, which comes from the application fees.
How does the Application Review Process work? What are the evaluation criteria?
Each application is reviewed by at least two jurors.
The selection process for our International Thematic Residency Program is based primarily on the applicant’s ability to creatively and critically engage with the annual residency theme.
The evaluation criteria also focus on: artistic and creative excellence; the applicant’s personal and professional merit, including the applicant’s experience and the quality of their past work; the applicant’s capacity to grow through risk-taking and their ability to sustain a productive practice in a semi-structured environment; the applicant’s potential for professional development through access to a sponsored residency; and the potential for the applicant’s proposed project to engage community and effect positive social change.
The selection criteria and process for the various fellowships hosted at SFAI are typically established and administered by the foundations who sponsor them.
Please refer to Fellowships for more information and links to these organizations’ websites.
Why don’t you offer personalized feedback on applications?
Based on the high number of applications received each year, staff and jurors are not able to provide personalized feedback on applications.
How often may I apply for a residency at SFAI?
Although the theme changes each year, we do not award residencies to applicants who participated in the theme immediately prior to the one they are applying for.
Am I allowed to defer my residency?
No. Because the theme and selection committee change each year, we are unable to defer residencies.
Residency Structure & Requirements
What is the cost of a Residency at SFAI?
All of our residencies are offered free of charge to awarded residents. We require a $35 non-refundable processing fee in order to submit your application. We also require a refundable $150 security deposit to guarantee your participation in the residency, which is refunded upon inspection of your room and studio space at the end of the residency.
Residents are responsible for the cost of travel to / from and during their stay at SFAI.
SFAI is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our monthly institutional costs for the international thematic residency program are roughly $4,000 per resident. Beginning in September 2017, SFAI chose to subsidize these residency costs to broaden access to our program, in our commitment to supporting individuals dedicated to positive social change through creativity. This requires a significant amount of fundraising each year, and we welcome donations from residents, alumni, individuals and organizations to help support this important programming.
If you or your organization would like to graciously donate to SFAI to directly sponsor an artist and help us continue to support our tuition-free social justice themed residency program for years to come, please visit Donate.
Is financial aid available?
SFAI does not offer financial aid at this time, nor does it act as a fiscal sponsor to residents. We suggest incoming residents apply for local and/or regional grants and/or initiate a crowdfunding campaign to support their financial needs. SFAI will provide an official award letter, upon request, to assist residents in their fundraising endeavors.
What does SFAI provide during my residency?
- Furnished private room with full bath and linens, and exterior patio
- Semi-private studio, with desk, chair, and task lamp
- Communal living and working areas (fully equipped kitchen, dining room, lounge, interior courtyard, outdoor workyard, tool room with slop sink)
- Basic tools (drill/drivers and bits, hand tools, misc hardware, measuring tapes, rulers, scissors)
- Discounted membership to MAKE Santa Fe with personalized instruction
- Free laundry facilities
- Contemporary art library
- Building-wide highspeed internet access
- Bicycles, helmets, bike locks, and tire pump
- Basic food items (bread, cereal, oatmeal, eggs, peanut butter, jelly, coffee, tea)
- Two communal meals per month (Welcome Lunch and Lunch with the Director)
- Monthly open studios during programmed institutional events
What does SFAI require during my residency?
- Timely Arrival & Departure (during business hours [9:00am-5:00pm] on the first and last days of your scheduled residency)
- Continued Presence & Engagement (for the duration of your residency)
- Adherence to SFAI Values & Code of Conduct (for the duration of your residency)
- Attendance at Group Orientation & Welcome Lunch (second day of your residency)
- Presentation at Monthly Resident Showcase (first Thursday of each residency month)
- Presentation at SFAI 140 (for March, July, and November residents only)
- Check-out Inspection of Room & Studio (prior to departure on your last day)
- Submission of Materials for Online Alumni Archive (within one month of departure)
How much interaction with staff will I have during my residency?
SFAI staff hold office hours Monday through Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm. The office is closed on the weekends and national holidays. Select staff members are available after hours for emergencies only.
Residents are always welcome to drop by the office during business hours. And because the SFAI office, resident rooms and studios, and communal spaces (kitchen, lounge, library) are all in one building, residents and staff will often cross paths throughout the week and enjoy casual conversation with one another, impromptu studio visits, and more.
Also, weekly interactions between staff and residents are scheduled over the course of each residency month and include:
- Orientation and Welcome Lunch with the entire staff (second day)
- Coffee Talk with the Residency Program Manager (every Monday from 10:00am to 11:00am)
- Lunch with the Executive Director (second Wednesday)
- Monthly Public Artist Talk (“Process” – second Thursday)
- Monthly Open Studios / Public Event (“Platform” – third Friday)
- Farewell Gathering with entire staff (second to last day)
- Exit Inspection (last day)
Can I host an exhibition, performance, workshop, or event of some kind while in residence at SFAI?
SFAI is committed to supporting our residents’ creative experimentation, professional growth, and public engagement with our community by offering free spaces to host events and free marketing of these events, whenever feasible. In order to integrate resident events with our monthly institutional programming and marketing, we require residents to submit proposals online for consideration by the Event Committee a minimum of 8 weeks in advance of the proposed event. The Event Committee evaluates resident proposals using the following criteria:
- Relationship of content to the annual programmatic theme
- Capacity to engage / relevance to Northern New Mexico communities
- Proven ability to successfully execute similar public events
- The timing and content of other events already scheduled / Availability of spaces
Resident events are always free and open to the public. Because SFAI is an independent non-profit, residents cannot conduct fundraisers on their own behalf while at SFAI.
Where is SFAI located?
SFAI is located in the urban center of Santa Fe on the Midtown Campus, which is a mixed-use neighborhood, comprised of light industrial, commercial, and residential spaces. SFAI is about 3 miles south of the historic downtown plaza, 1 mile east of the Santa Fe River, and 5 miles west of the Santa Fe National Forest and foothills of the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains. While Albuquerque, roughly an hour to the south, is a larger metropolitan area that is home base of the University of New Mexico, Santa Fe is the state capitol and the seat of government in New Mexico.
How do I get to SFAI?
Many residents like to drive here if they can, in order to bring materials and explore the region. If you bring your car, we have ample free parking. If you choose to fly, the main airport is in Albuquerque, and there is a smaller regional airport in Santa Fe. You may arrange for a shuttle through Sandia Shuttle that will bring you from the Albuquerque airport to SFAI’s front door. You can also take the Rail Runner Express train from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, but you will need to find a way from the train station to SFAI (e.g., bus, Uber, or Lyft). SFAI does not provide transportation to/from airports or transit stations.
How do I get around Santa Fe?
Santa Fe is a western city, meaning that outside the historic downtown plaza area, it isn’t the most pedestrian-friendly. A car is the easiest way to get around, though we are very near a bus stop and an urban trail system for biking and recreational walking. SFAI has bicycles, along with helmets, locks, and a tire pump available for resident use.
SFAI also has two cars for residents to use. In order to use our cars, you will need to pay a $30 per month fee and provide us with a copy of a valid U.S. driver’s license. The cars are available for in-town errands and local outings only. We ask that you limit each use to three hours and fill up the gas tank after each trip. For longer trips, we recommend that you rent a car from a local rental agency. Enterprise and Budget car rental offices are both in walking distance from SFAI.
Unfortunately, International residents are prohibited from using our vehicles for insurance reasons. SFAI staff are happy to drive international residents on weekly supply runs and we encourage ride-sharing with residents who have access to the SFAI car or their own vehicles after hours.
Santa Fe does not have a local cab company so Uber and Lyft are the best options for car service.
What’s the weather like in Santa Fe? How should I dress?
Santa Fe is located at 7,260 feet (2,213 meters) above sea level. It usually takes a few days to acclimatize to the elevation gain, which can cause temporary headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Please make sure to drink plenty of water and not overexert yourself during your first week.
The climate for Santa Fe varies greatly by season, so what kind of clothes you pack will depend on when you are here. There are about 300 days of sunshine each year. Santa Fe is dry, normally with less than 40% humidity, however there is a rainy period during the summer referred to as the monsoon season. August is typically the most active monsoon month, but storms can start in July and continue into September, with heavy intermittent rainfall, lightning, hail, strong winds, dust storms, and flash flooding.
Summer in Santa Fe averages daily highs of 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) and nightly lows of about 53 degrees Fahrenheit (12 degrees Celsius). Winter daily highs average about 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius) with average nightly lows at about 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 degrees Celsius). Santa Fe has roughly 30 to 34 inches (76 to 86 centimeters) of snowfall per year. The first frost is usually about October 10th and the last frost around May 1st.
Can I bring my pet?
SFAI only allows Service Animals as regulated by the ADA, this does not include Emotional Support, Therapy, or Comfort Animals. If you need to bring a Service Animal, we kindly ask that you inform SFAI at the time of scheduling your residency / well in advance of your arrival. Many other residents have allergies and phobias and we want to do our best to ensure everyone is comfortable while they are here.
Can I have overnight guests?
Residents who wish to have an overnight guest must have prior approval by the Residency Program Manager.
Guests are welcome to stay in a resident’s room for a maximum of 3 nights for $25 per night. We do not charge for children under 18. Residents may lease a separate room, when available, for $75 per night. All guests must check in with staff upon arrival and sign a waiver.
If you have a guest visiting for longer than 3 nights, you should advise them to find external lodging (i.e., a hotel or Airbnb).
Do I have to bring my own towels and bedding?
No. SFAI provides sheets, blankets, pillows, pillowcases, and towels.
Does SFAI provide food? Do I have to cook?
SFAI provides basic breakfast foods for residents to share. These include: eggs, bread, cereal, oatmeal, jelly, peanut butter, coffee, and tea, as well as oils and spices.
Residents provide their own supplemental food and are responsible for preparing their own meals.
SFAI also provides residents two communal meals per month, including the Welcome Lunch and Lunch with the Director.
What kind of materials, tools, or facilities does SFAI provide?
SFAI does not have any specialized facilities or equipment. However, in addition to individual studios and a communal workspace with oversized work tables on casters, we have a tool room with a slop sink and an outdoor workyard where any particularly messy, smelly, or noisy work can take place.
SFAI provides a few basic tools for all residents to share, such as drills / drivers with bits, hammers, pliers, tape measures, levels, step ladder, saw horses, hand saw, palm sander, self healing cutting mats, rulers, scissors, and miscellaneous hardware.
SFAI does not provide computers, printers, monitors, SD cards, or media players. A professional print shop and office supply store are both within walking distance.
We do have one tripod and one digital camera with various lenses available to residents for occasional on site use only.
SFAI offers residents a discounted membership to use the equipment at MAKE Santa Fe, along with a comprehensive local resource list, and all residents enjoy a 10% discount at Artisan, the local art supply store.
Residents are responsible for providing all other tools, materials, and equipment necessary to their practice while in residence at SFAI.