Gordon Knox, consultant with Campbell Consultants Group, has been in the residency field for a long time, having founded Civitella Rainieri in 1995 in Umbria, Italy. He was an active Board Member for Res Artist from 2000-2006; was the Artistic Director of the Lucas Artists Programs at Montalvo Arts Center 2003-2008, and Director of Global Initiatives at Stanford Humanities Lab 2008-2011. Most recently in 2011 and in partnership with Arizona State University, he founded Combine Studios. Knox, the ASU Art Museum director, said the residencies are an important aspect of the museum’s work in advancing the critical, creative process of artists across all fields of knowledge and research. “Our visiting artists engage in cross-departmental collaborations and socially embedded projects that have tangible impact on the region, empowering communities and advancing critical reappraisals of some of this generation’s most pressing challenges.”
Located on the corner of Third and Garfield streets in downtown Phoenix, Combine serves as a small studio apartment complex, offering living quarters and workspaces for six artists. The residency program involves the leasing of six units to house visiting international artists working on projects in partnership with the ASU Art Museum, the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and Arizona State University. The facility also includes a storefront gallery and classroom space, as well as a shared kitchen, common area and resource library where artists can dine together and meet with project partners and members of the community.
Combine Studios, in partnership with the ASU Art Museum, provides the resident artists an opportunity to develop their artistic practices by wrestling with issues, materials and ideas. The objective of Combine Studios is to have residents submerged in the art-making process.
“I decided to see if we could develop a residency program that would bring artists to the Phoenix area to develop their projects, work with students, work with other artists and with university research units to advance innovative approaches to complex research challenges” Knox said. “Having international artists here developing their work, collaborating with widely divergent research centers and engaging with community members will provide a range of benefits and outcomes. Artists provide new ways of conceptualizing problems every bit as much as they provide new ways of visualizing results. Already we have an ASU robotics team working with Portuguese artist Miguel Palma as he develops an image capture and projection vehicle to ‘bring’ the desert back into the city. The relationships created between the artists and a range of partners here in Arizona will benefit ASU’s students and extend the work of the university through new, on-going relationships that foster a more connected global network linked through the ASU Art Museum as host and convener.” Projects have occurred as diverse as Miguel Palma’s Trajectory, whose Remote Desert Exploration Vehicle investigates ways in which meaning of place, particularly in remote desert environments, is created and communicated. Feast on the Street brought people together around a half-mile long dining table in downtown Phoenix, transforming First Street into a pedestrian promenade in celebration of food and art in the desert. This free public event is a community project initiated by the ASU Art Museum, Roosevelt Row CDC and the artists Clare Patey and Matthew Moore. Rose Simpson’s Bound and Combined project aims to address ideas of vulnerability of the body through the creation of armor or adornment. Artists Bryndis Snæbjörnsdóttir (Iceland) and Mark Wilson (England) explore the networked effects of conservation initiatives in Arizona. Over two years, the artists researched programs underway to reintroduce the California Condor and the Humpback Chub into the Grand Canyon. Through humor, wonder and surprise, their installation of photographs, videos and sculpture explores the complexity of human-animal interactions and their combined impact on ecologies. Pablo Helguera’s installation Librería Donceles takes the form of an itinerant Spanish-language bookstore comprised of over 12,000 used books on virtually every subject. The installation recreates the unique intellectually and culturally rich environment of a secondhand bookstore and questions how Spanish is integrated into the broader cultural life of Arizona. Finally, the Nanny Van, created by REV- (lead artist: Marisa Jahn) in collaboration with The National Domestic Workers Alliance, is a bright orange mobile design lab and sound studio that “accelerates the movement for domestic workers’ rights nationwide.” With its pull-out craft carts, colorful design, and acoustic recording booth, the Nanny Van convenes domestic workers and employers alike to produce and provide new fair-care tools — from know-your-rights flyers to multi-lingual call centers on the legal rights of domestic works to a specially developed Domestic Workers App.
The richness of the projects already generated by the Combine Studios is an extraordinary legacy for such a new program.