The Intern Artist Program at Franconia is a very special program, one that provides incredible opportunities to career-bound emerging artists who exhibit a rare cocktail of determination, passion, and ambition at an early stage in their practices. A residency internship at Franconia offers these young artists an intense period of making art outside of an academic environment and for many, their first glimpse into life as a professional artist. Past Intern Artists have told us that Franconia gave them the confidence to pursue a career as an artist. Their time here tends to spark exciting developments in their work and propels them in to their final years at school with far greater commitment to making sculpture and taking chances.
The Intern Artist Program is the brainchild of John Hock, co-founder and Artistic Director/CEO, based on pivotal experiences he had as a young artist. The program began with the park’s founding in 1996 and has grown to support more than 200 emerging artists in the past 18 years. The program received recognition for Program Excellence from the National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts for the creation of the Intern Artist Program. This year we awarded 15 competitive internships to Intern and Administrative Artist applicants from all over the world. Intern Artists are in residence at Franconia for 2 to 3 months over the course of the year, helping maintain the park, staffing events, assisting with guided tours, and teaching workshops, as well as completing a three-dimensional artwork for exhibition in the 30-acre sculpture park. While in residence at Franconia, Intern Artists receive room and board, access to equipment and tools, studio space, mentoring, technical assistance, and all the advantages of collaboration in a focused artist community.
This fall we have five intern artists, one arts administration intern (that’s me, Rebecca!), and an honorary intern returning to finish her piece. This week, in between park work and curating their own exhibition at Franconia’s Gallery in the Casket Arts Community Complex, I had the opportunity to talk with the interns about why they came to Franconia, what they are working on, and most importantly find out their spirit animals.
Nicknames: “Nick Banana,” “the Knife”.
Spirit animal: Not sure, but I really identify with bananas.
If you were a tool, what would you be? Orbital sander.
Where are you coming from? Most recently Saugatuck Michigan, but I went to school in Portland Oregon and grew up in Maryland.
Where are you going after Franconia? Who knows- but I do know that I’m spending Thanksgiving with my family in Boston.
Why did you come to Franconia? To make some art-I want to work my butt off and totally devote myself to art.
What are you working on? I’m kind of making a self-portrait. It’s a large wooden form, fabric cast concrete, and a couple figures.
Jane Meyer, BA in studio art, St. Olaf College, ‘11
Nicknames: Jane Saw, Janerator, Dwayne
Spirit animal: Scrappy dog
If you were a tool, what would you be? C-clamp.
Where are you coming from? Physically – an internship at Highpoint Center for Printmaking. Artistically – making a lot of 2-D work.
Where are you going after Franconia? I’ll go back to the twin cities and continue splitting my time between working for Two Bettys and making my art. I want to get a membership at the Hack Factory to continue shifting my studio practice and working on three-dimensional work.
Why did you come to Franconia? It is a really wonderful environment for creativity and concentration. I wanted to learn a lot about the installation of sculpture, specifically outdoors. This is a great place to give you time to work on your own stuff.
What are you working on? I’m making a sinking vessel. It’s specifically for the people who live here throughout the year. It’s something interesting to look at during the day, but its most pure function is for residents to stargaze at night when the park is closed.
Nicknames: Chole, Chloby Dick, Cloister, Choli.
Spirit animal: Otter, they’re my favorite animals.
If you were a tool, what would you be? Tiranti curl leaf wax working tool.
Where are you coming from? Edinburgh in Scotland.
Where are you going after Franconia? Back to Scotland since I have a great studio at the Sculpture Workshop in Edinburgh.
Why did you come to Franconia? I wanted an adventure, my art practice is going well, but I wanted to shake things up a bit.
What are you working on? I’m making three large-scale Styrofoam carvings that will also be a source of light in the park. They reference contemporary political issues more than my work usually does.
Nicknames: Baxter, Recca.
Spirit animal: Chipmunk.
If you were a tool, what would you be? Jackhammer.
Where are you coming from? After four years in Baltimore, I spent this summer in the backwoods of Vermont as part of the inaugural year of The Sable Project.
Where are you going after Franconia? Not quite sure yet, but somewhere where I can gain an in-depth look into residency programs and non-profits as I hope to found my own one day.
Why did you come to Franconia? This is the first residency program I ever heard about and when my professor described it to me in a metal working class in college, I knew I had to come here.
What are you working on? I work in the office most days helping with the administrative side of things and I am learning a lot. I’d like to make a new steel sculpture to dance and do acrobatics on top of. Additionally, if it’s possible I’d like to investigate fabricating my own forge.
Tony Zappa, BFA in Sculpture, University of Minnesota at Duluth, ’11
Nicknames: Tony-bag-o-donuts, Zapparoo, No Shins-cause he’s a toe and a knee.
Spirit animal: Silver-backed beaver.
If you were a tool, what would you be? A sturdy sharp knife.
Where are you coming from? The Twin Cities, via Duluth.
Where are you going after Franconia? Back to the Twin Cities to work on applications for graduate schools. In the meantime I’ll be looking for more residencies and artist communities to be part of.
Why did you come to Franconia? For the community, I wanted to be somewhere where there are a bunch of artists making work. And for the opportunity, there’s nowhere else to do the stuff you can do here.
What are you working on? I’m making a structure that functions as a six string harp or guitar that the viewer can walk into.
Nicknames: Fetfet, Fetterdog, Tigger.
Spirit animal: Slow Loris
If you were a tool, what would you be? Ratchet.
Where are you coming from? California.
Where are you going after Franconia? California and then Seattle to work with John Grade.
Why did you come to Franconia? To continue making work and to learn how to make large outdoor sculpture. I wanted to enter into the residency world and work with a group of inspired and interesting people and be part of the creative environment.
What are you working on? I’m learning how to make kinetic sculpture.
Hannah Sawyer was a spring intern and is returning to finish her sculpture
Nicknames: “Mama Twerk”.
Spirit Animal: Cheetah, at least that’s what my cousin told me. She made me a spirit drawing.
If you were a tool, what would you be? Jigsaw
What are you working on? A large-scale google locator of sorts
Curious about what these talented, young artists are up to? Come out to Franconia and find them working in our outdoor workspace and studio – don’t be afraid to ask them what they are working on. We are open dawn to dusk each day in the heart of the St. Croix River Valley, at the intersection of Highway 8 and Highway 95 in Shafer, MN.
Franconia’s Intern Artist Program is made possible through generous lead support provided by the Woodbury Foundation, with additional support provided by the Sage Cleveland Foundation and RBC Wealth Management.