As artists, we’re always looking for new and unique ways to improve our craft. Whether it’s searching for employment and internship opportunities through Passport or simply taking inspiration from our distinguished alumni. Wherever your skill set takes you, it’s clear that the RMCAD community continues to flourish with talented artists and designers across a multitude of creative disciplines. One such artist is Assistant Professor Agnes Ma who recently embarked on an artist residency in the Arctic, exposing her to breathtaking views, new ideas, and thought-provoking perspectives throughout her two-week adventure.
Tell us about yourself and how you obtained your residency.
My name is Agnes Ma, I’m an Assistant Professor + 3D Studios Coordinator at RMCAD. I recently returned from my residency in the Arctic, hosted by The Arctic Circle. I discovered the opportunity through Associate Professor Regan Rosburg, who attended the residency in 2019. It’s a highly competitive program, so I didn’t have high hopes, but in the fine arts world, we are constantly applying to new opportunities, so it’s normal to not hear back from submitted applications. Fortunately, after applying in 2021, I found out that I had been accepted along with 30 other creatives and I was set to embark on the 8,000-mile round-trip journey in April of 2023.
How did your residency impact your art?
This trip reinforced many things that I have accomplished and done throughout my art career. Sometimes as an artist, you may find yourself asking “What am I making? And why am I making it?” After returning home, this trip reinforced that my use of nature and environment is a metaphor for humanity and moral ethics. It’s a concerning problem that the glaciers are melting, which is interrelated to how humans exist in the world and perceive their actions. Lastly, throughout my two weeks on board, I created a strong network of creative professionals that I still talk to daily.
What surprised you while in your residency?
Not being an outdoors person, I was worried about the cold temperatures, harsh snow, and unpredictable weather. Surprisingly, the temperature was around 25 degrees Fahrenheit which I was already acclimated to from living in Denver, CO. Additionally, there is a natural phenomenon called the “midnight sun” which occurs in the summer months, causing the sun to shine down on the glowing blue of the Arctic Ocean during all hours of the day. Lastly, there was a diverse range of artists, educators, writers, and interdisciplinary study educators on board.
What interested you the most during your trip and what advice do you have for others?
I wanted to try something different and prove to myself that I could do it. I think I was mostly wanting to see the landscape and experience a unique perspective as an artist. Almost all aspects of this trip were new to me. I had never been on a ship, in extreme weather, or traveled so far north. In regards to others on a similar path, I want to mention that the word residency is often misunderstood because it encompasses a wide variety of programs. You need to read the details of what you apply for and understand what the expectations are of the artists who join in exchange for space.
In conclusion, Ma took away invaluable insights and new ideas to implement into her practice. “This made me more confident about what my capabilities are as an artist,” explained Ma. “You never know how these experiences can positively affect you, so if you have the opportunity like I did, you should pursue it.” To discover unique networking opportunities and careers to explore, students can log into Passport, a job board exclusively dedicated to RMCAD student and alumni success. Interested in attending RMCAD? Bring your creativity to life and apply today.
Many of the quotes in this story have been edited for brevity and clarity by the author, but are meant to retain the significance and purpose of the original speaker.