Meet the Winner of the National YoungArts Foundation's Inaugural Residency in Visual Arts

Suzanne McClelland was recently selected as the winner of the inaugural YoungArts Residency in Visual Arts, a new program established by the National YoungArts Foundation with funding from the Related Group.

The award provides emerging and mid-career artists with an honorarium of up to $10,000, a travel stipend, and three to twelve weeks of housing, which includes studio workspace on the YoungArts campus. Not a bad deal. But before we take a closer look at the residency and its inaugural recipient, it's worth noting that the new residency is just the latest piece of great news coming out of Miami, which is emerging as one of the country's hottest cities for the arts.

Miami is on a roll. The Warhol Foundation, for example, is expanding its support to Miami-based artists with its new series of WaveMaker grants. The Knight Foundation is also heavily invested in the city. It recently planned to award $25,000 to a Miami nonprofit who could make the case that they'll use the money to solve a local problem. It also partnered with the Sundance Institute to launch a series of filmmaking workshops in the city. We could go on, but you get the point. Miami is attracting artists and funders with its unique mix of cultural assimilation, artistic diversity, and thriving educational institutions. (And the weather doesn't hurt either.)

Into this mix steps the Related Group and the National YoungArts Foundation, which explicitly mentions the city's allure in its press release, noting that the program gives winners "the chance to work in Miami and engage with its community." This seemingly innocuous statement also speaks to another interesting component of the program, which is the fact that it enables winners to network with locals.

Don't get us wrong, we have nothing against holing up in a mountain retreat and painting 12 hours a day. But as any artist will tell you, the less-glamorous practical aspects of the artistic life inevitably emerge — finding galleries, meeting agents, selling your work, setting up a web site, etc. And the YoungArts Foundation's Inaugural Residency in Visual Arts acknowledges this reality, as does winner McClelland, who noted, "I am particularly excited to learn from and work with the wide variety of Miami communities during the remarkable period of cultural growth it is experiencing. South Florida has a powerful existing cultural landscape and has always been home to newcomers."

Which bring us to McClelland herself. Based in Brooklyn, she has been exhibiting internationally since the early 90s. McClelland is known for both large-scale gestural oil paintings and works on paper, often incorporating collaborative elements from writers and poets. As for her upcoming residency, she plans to "explore the richly diverse communities of South Florida." Similar to a city like New York, where various languages are spoken alongside the constant influx of tourists and transient residents, McClelland will "examine the ways in which public spaces may encourage or discourage physical encounters with one another."

McClelland will also "examine the impact that underutilized and abandoned urban landscapes have on relationships between the people of a city, and observe and translate what she hears and sees in her new surroundings through multimedia using surveillance cameras, sound extractions, photographs and paint."