The Studios at MASS MoCA

studios assets blog photo

This fall, MASS MoCA’s Assets for Artists program launches a new initiative to support artists and writers seeking productive time away from their ordinary routine, inviting them to enjoy the creative energy of the Berkshires.

The Studios at MASS MoCA offers self-directed professional development residencies ranging from 1 to 4 weeks beginning this October, as well as week-long workshops-in-residence with expert instructors. Selected participants will enjoy 24/7 access to private studios in newly available space on MASS MoCA’s renovated mill campus, housing across the street from the museum, and immersion in the growing creative community of North Adams.

Residency artists will receive MASS MoCA member benefits for the duration of their residency, free access to Makers’ Mill — a printmaking and fiber arts makerspace on Main Street in North Adams — and the opportunity to receive one-on-one artist-focused financial and business counseling through MASS MoCA’s renowned Assets for Artists program, which helps artists and writers in all disciplines strengthen the business side of their artistic practice.

“This is a chance for artists and writers to escape the day-to-day and focus on 5 years, 10 years, 20 years down the road — both creatively and professionally,” says Blair Benjamin, Director of Assets for Artists. “We’re excited to share this opportunity with artists and help them re-charge and break new ground in North Adams.”

Residency fees apply, but significant subsidies are available based on artistic experience, readiness to benefit from the program, and financial need. To apply, download the application at The application deadline is September 14, 2015.

For artists seeking creative mentorship to take their work to the next level, The Studios at MASS MoCA will also offer week-long workshop-in-residence opportunities providing individual studio space at MASS MoCA in combination with daily instructor-led activities and other residency benefits. Workshops will be capped at 8 participants, allowing ample one-on-one time with the instructor. Workshop space is first-come, first-serve, secured with a deposit, and does not require an application.

Workshop Session 1: October 30 – November 6
Visual Artist Independent Study & Critique Workshop (Debi Pendell)
Sought-after instructor and facilitator Debi Pendell leads this workshop to support the development of individual artistic projects. Debi will introduce her specialized group critique method, emphasizing the development of a vocabulary to express visual experience. Artists will work independently under Debi’s guidance, and will receive feedback individually and in the company of other workshop-in-residence participants.

Workshop Session 2: November 6 – 13
Painting North Adams (Daniel “Danny O” O’Connor)
Danny O — whose striking artwork and infectious energy has won him legions of fans throughout the art world — will guide participants to various locations that promise fantastic views and compositional delight to create quick line drawings. Back at the MASS MoCA studios, those initial sketches will be developed into small color studies, relying just on those sketches and swatches of magazine color rather than photography as reference, to keep the work purposefully free from perfection, embracing lumpy and imperfect drawing and surprising color combinations. Participants will select a study to make into a larger realized work by the end of the week.

Workshop Session 3: November 13 – 20
Poetry Workshop (Jeffrey Levine & Jim Schley/Tupelo Press)
Poet Jeffrey Levine is Editor-in-Chief of the renowned Tupelo Press and one of the country’s leading writing instructors. In this innovative workshop-in-residence, Jeffrey will help writers generate new ideas, build a visual vocabulary, and better understand what editors and publishers want. The week-long residency includes plenty of time for individual work in private studios at MASS MoCA, instruction by Jeffrey and his colleague, Jim Schley, in-depth review sessions of each participant’s work, and generative exercises inspired by the exhibits and the architecture of the MASS MoCA campus.

Visit to apply for a residency or enroll in a workshop.

Posted September 1, 2015 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, North Adams, Uncategorized
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Assets for Artists: North Adams Project Round Two


Samantha Pasapane, Bridging the Gap, 2011

MASS MoCA and Assets for Artists are excited to announce the second round of the North Adams Project! Launched in 2014, the Project aims to support North Adams-based artists while adding momentum to the City’s growing cultural economy.

Assets for Artists is known for its innovative artist support programming. Through a mix of funding and educational resources, the program helps artists work toward business growth and financial stability. After years of serving creatives across Massachusetts, Assets for Artists piloted its hometown North Adams Project last summer. The result? A cohort of nine artists, three of them long-time Berkshire county residents, and six, newcomers who packed their bags and relocated to North Adams from as far away as California.

Tim Walker, Relational Storage, 2013

Tim Walker, Relational Storage, 2013

For newcomers, the lure is the unique support of Assets for Artists, plus the considerable assets of North Adams itself: natural beauty, affordability, and a happening arts culture.

Last year’s new artists have wasted no time becoming part of the local scene. Natalie Tyler, a glass artist from California, is renting a downtown storefront from which she’ll sell her glass sculpture and teach workshops. Metalsmith Kristal Romano, who moved to North Adams from New Jersey, found her studio at the historic Beaver Mill and will soon be selling her signature torch-fired enamel jewelry in MASS MoCA’s store. Sculpture duo Tim Walker and Samantha Pasapane, from New York and New Jersey (respectively), have set up a workspace at the Blackinton Mill in North Adams. This year, joining their creative skills in wood and metalwork, they plan to launch a collaborative business producing functional objects for the home.

We’ve included some examples of their fantastic work, and you can check out their artist profiles on the A4A blog!

Sarah Tortora, The Transplantable, 2014

Sarah Tortora, The Transplantable, 2014

For the second round of the North Adams Project, we are again taking applications from current residents and new arrivals. It’s an exciting time to be in North Adams: Last year we were named one of the top U.S. cities for young creatives and this year we have the Huffington Post asking, “What is it about the extreme northwestern corner of Massachusetts, squeezed between Mt. Greylock and the Green Mountains of Vermont, that draws such exceptional art institutions?” Throw MASS MoCA’s upcoming expansion into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a city on the precipice of something huge.


Kristal Romano, Torch-Fired Enamel Earrings, 2014

There are plenty of reasons for creatives to call North Adams home: its abundant natural beauty, outdoor recreation, amazingly affordable homes and studio space, and local dynamic art scene. MASS MoCA’s Assets for Artists program is adding another: financial support and professional development for artists committed to building a creative practice in North Adams. Artists selected to participate in the North Adams Project will receive artist-focused training and match money for investments in their creative enterprises. We’re excited to attract and retain another round of great artists in North Adams and, in the process, make North Adams an even more vibrant place to live and work.

John Ryan, The Tempest, 2013

John Ryan, The Tempest, 2013

We invite artists to apply in two categories: those already living or working in our hometown, and those who have yet to discover North Adams. We’re offering incentives and special programming for new artists eager to put down roots in our hip little city. Artists in all disciplines and financial circumstances are encouraged to apply.

Interested? Learn more about our North Adams Project here. The deadline to apply is May 31, 2015.


Natalie Tyler, Yellow Jacket Nest, 2010

Feel free to email us at with questions and let us know how we can help you achieve a creative future in North Adams!

To learn more about MASS MoCA’s Assets for Artists program and to stay up to date with the 200+ artists in our network across the Northeast, visit our website, find us on Facebook, and follow us @Assets4Artists on Twitter.

Posted April 10, 2015 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Uncategorized
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(re)Made at MASS MoCA: Available Light

A few short weeks ago, renowned choreographer Lucinda Childs was in residency at the museum with her dancers, rehearsing her revamped version of Available Light. Childs’s seminal collaboration with architect Frank Gehry and composer John Adams was performed March 6, 7, and 8 for the first time—on Gehry’s reimagined set to Adams’s original score—since 1983.

Naturally, we filmed a bunch of rehearsals, conducted numerous interviews, set up time lapses, and snapped lots of photos to preserve the revival of this formative piece. They’re all compiled here, in chronological order, so you all at home can feel like you were right there with us watching Available Light‘s rebirth.

First up is a time lapse of the Hunter Center as our production team set the stage (literally) for the show. The set they constructed is slightly different from Frank Gehry’s 1983 original; though the aesthetics are similar, this version is more logistically viable for touring the world, and can be built at virtually any venue (click for video):

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Once the stage was set, the dancers began to rehearse…


And rehearse…


And rehearse.


But luckily, Lucinda Childs and her dancers weren’t too busy to get a tour of the galleries from our director, Joseph Thompson:


And before showtime, we stopped to chat with the choreographer herself about revamping one of her major works (click for video):

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Then, after nearly a month of rehearsals, it was finally time for three intimate, work-in-progress performances of the piece…


And they were breathtaking:



The dancers took a much-deserved bow, but the night wasn’t over just yet.


After each showing, audience members got their questions answered during an exclusive Q&A session with Lucinda Childs and Julie Lazar, the original commissioner of Available Light at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles’s Temporary Contemporary, facilitated by our managing director of performing arts, Sue Killam:


Now, the only thing left to do was strike:





And by the end of the whirlwind three-week residency, some members of our production team got a little bit silly. Yes, Tim, we’re talking about you:


In June, Available Light will have its premiere at Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Now that we’re done with one major dance performance, we’re gearing up for another: if you loved Available Light as much as we did, don’t miss the sleek choreography and electrifying movements of Larry Keigwin’s KEIGWIN + COMPANY, a co-presentation with Jacob’s Pillow Dance, in our Hunter Center on April 11 and 12.

Posted March 20, 2015 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Dance, Frank Gehry, John Adams, Lucinda Childs, North Adams, Visual and Performing Arts, Work-in-progress
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Keeping the Light Alive: Behind the Scenes with Karl

The Dying of the Light: Film as Medium and Metaphor, a film exhibition which featured several massive projectors and analog films, closed to the public last week. In a photo essay, our film technician intern reflects upon the six months he spent tending to one of our highest-maintenance exhibitions. 

By Karl Frederick Mattson

The Dying of the Light: A once continuously looped film exhibition, temperamental in nature, and spliced together with a heavy dose of preservation and nostalgia. The delicate technical maintenance required for such an exhibition came down to a physical science. The projectors — essentially living and breathing mechanical wonders — came with their fair share of daily issues. Given that the exhibition ran constantly for 11 months from opening to close on a daily basis resulted in an indefinite amount of time behind the scenes to keep the bustling machines running.

The following series of images is a brief account of the attentive technical maintenance that was required to preserve and often repair the nearly obsolete presentation, medium, and metaphor of analogue film in a public setting.



The film before the film.



The War Room, where a vast array of film equipment was stored.



The film tech cart, which included all of the necessary projector tinkering tools.



Prepping the ol’ movie theater projector (oil leaks galore) for a new print of Rosa Barba’s The Long Road.



Watching for the green ray while testing out a new print.



Turning on Matthew Buckingham’s False Future, hoping the projector lamp won’t burn out (again).



A box full of used chandeliers.



A trusty bright neon microfiber cloth used to clean Rosa Barba’s Stating The Real Sublime.



Dead light.

Posted February 26, 2015 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Exhibitions, Film, Interns, The Dying of the Light, Uncategorized
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Made at MASS MoCA: Helado Negro

Last week, MASS MoCA was lucky enough to have Helado Negro (the moniker for musician Roberto Lange) in residency working on the next installment of his Island Universe Story. Roberto and his musical collaborators, Mikael Jorgensen of Wilco, Jason Ajemian and Jason Trammell of the William Onyeabor Atomic Bomb Band, and Oliver Chapoy of Certain Creatures, spent six days in our studios before performing on Saturday night. Here’s a video of Roberto discussing his project and what it’s like to create and collaborate at MASS MoCA.

Yesterday, Roberto announced that he was a recipient of the Joyce Award for 2015, along with previously exhibiting MASS MoCA artists Nari Ward and Sanford Biggers. His award will be used to produce the upcoming performance of Island Universe Story as part of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music series in March. The Joyce Award allows the SPCO to partner with Helado Negro to bring this groundbreaking, Latin-inspired sonic performance to new audiences with a group of world class musicians who have performed with Wilco, Stereolab, and David Byrne.

Roberto, we couldn’t be happier for you. Congratulations!

Posted January 28, 2015 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Helado Negro, Made at MASS MoCA, Music
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Thank You from MASS MoCA

As the holiday season whips by in a flurry of flash sales and, well, flurries, it can be easy to get carried away in the “getting” and forget to be thankful for all that we already have. As our fifteenth year becomes our sixteenth year, the staff here at MASS MoCA looks back with gratitude on twelve months’ worth of programming, residencies, and exhibits. From music festivals to educational workshops to large-scale art installations, here are the moments from 2014 that we’re the most thankful for:

Glenn Kotche and David Cossin’s duet at the Bang on a Can Marathon


Nick Veasey and Marilène Oliver’s Kidspace residency


Installing Darren Waterston’s Filthy Lucre


Having an amazing time at Beck in June


The amazing turnout at our FreshGrass Bluegrass Festival

The transformation that occurs in our galleries at installation time

2014: Teresita Fernandez: As Above So Below Install INTERNAL USE

Doubling the number of students served by our school partnership program

Brayton 3rd Grade Tour

Bang on a Can playing Terry Reily’s In C inside Izhar Patkin’s veiled suite, and…


…working with Ann Hamilton on her Paper Chorus.


We’re thankful to you for making these moments happen, and for joining us to watch them unfold. Can’t wait to see you next year, and the year after…

Posted December 23, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under Berkshires, BLOG, Darren Waterston: Uncertain Beauty, Exhibitions, Kidspace, Uncategorized
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