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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(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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Calling all Massachusetts Artists!

assets-for-artists2 assets-for-artists2 MASS MoCA’s Assets for Artists program is in its seventh year of helping Massachusetts artists build financial stability and entrepreneurial success. Founded in 2008, Assets for Artists is a matched-savings and entrepreneurship training program for low-income artists in all disciplines. If you are a Massachusetts artist and you are eligible to apply, don’t miss out. Assets for Artists is accepting applications through November 7, 2014!

Assets for Artists helps artists access capital, grow their artistic ventures, and gain the financial stability that promotes creative freedom. Artists selected to participate in 2014 will benefit from a “matched savings” program that provides $2,000 in grant funding, two free professional development workshops, and one-on-one business and financial counseling, including support in writing a business plan.

The program, born from MASS MoCA’s commitment to community revitalization through the arts, was piloted at home in Berkshire County, enrolling nine local artists during its first year. Today, Assets for Artists — administered by MASS MoCA in collaboration with ArtHome, the Midas Collaborative, and many local partners — has expanded to serve nearly 200 artists across the state of Massachusetts and in New York City, Rhode Island, and Portland, Maine. Here are just a few of the Massachusetts artists we enrolled last year:

From now until November 7, Assets for Artists is accepting applications from low-income creative entrepreneurs throughout the state of Massachusetts. To learn more and to download the application, visit the Assets for Artists website.

Posted October 30, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under Assets for Artists, BLOG, Local Artists, North Adams
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Peeping Leaves from a New Perspective: Your Guide to a Fabulous Fall Weekend in the Northern Berkshires

By Julia Leonardos

Bags of apples straight from the orchard line your pantry. Your stoop is overrun with decorative gourds and festive hay bales. You’ve swapped your shorts and t-shirts for cardigans and lacquered leather boots. You spent the last three hours bushwhacking your way out of a corn maze, your house smells like the Yankee Candle store and Starbucks had a baby, and the Monday Night Football theme song echoes constantly throughout your hallways. That’s right, folks, fall is upon us: nature’s final, fiery burst of beauty before crisp air turns frigid and brilliant trees become barren.

Fall is a pretty big deal out here in the northern Berkshires and so is the weekend that lands closest to the date of October 12. Some call it Columbus Day Weekend, but I’ll refer to it as most Berkshire locals do: the peak of leaf-peeping season. Yes, it is this weekend that the leaf peepers pack up their cars and head to the Berkshires from all directions to see the leaves at their most vivid. And we welcome you, leaf peepers, with open arms, warm hearts, and plenty of picture-perfect landscapes for you to Instagram, no filter required.


After a while, though, staring at trees can get a little boring. We get it — you might get hungry, decide to do some activities, or feel a sudden, overwhelming urge to stare at something else (maybe some art?) for a few hours. That’s where we come in. MASS MoCA and a bevy of other northern Berkshire institutions are here for you if (and when) you decide you want to peep some leaves from a new perspective this weekend. Here’s our guide for the upcoming fall weekend, designed to enhance your leaf peeping with art, events, food, and merriment…


Day 1: Friday, October 10
Arrive at the Porches Inn in North Adams, MA, after work, then, head to Public for dinner and drinks. By 8pm, be at MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center for The Source, Beth Morrison Projects’ latest music-theater work-in-progress. It’s all about Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning’s decision to leak the most classified material ever released to the public, and the worldwide media hysteria that ensued. The Source premieres at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on October 22, so this is an exclusive chance to be a part of the process and see the show before it premieres.


Day 2: Saturday, October 11

View the Radical Words, Make it New, and Raw Color exhibitions at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown before they come down. In the evening, head back to MASS MoCA for the opening reception of Lee Boroson’s Plastic Fantastic, in Building 5, our largest gallery space (yes, that’s the gallery where Xu Bing’s Phoenix was) at 5pm. You can make reservations for the reception here. Next up, just a few steps away in Building 10, is guitar hero Gary Lucas, who is playing his original live score to the 1935 Chinese cinematic touchstone The Goddess (for only the second time in North America!) up in Club B-10, starting at 8pm. That leaves you plenty of time to chow down on some burritos/sandwiches/ice cream at Lickety Split in between the opening and the show.

Day 3: Sunday, October 12
In the morning, dive into the 900-acre Berkshire wood for some up-close and personal leaf-peeping at Ramblewild forest adventure park. You can zipline, swing, climb, and slide from tree to tree on one of their many forest trails. If you’re like me and you want to have both of your feet on solid ground as often as humanly possible, you can also (free of charge) take a meditative walk in the forest as you watch the other members of your party jump from tree to tree above you.


In the afternoon, head to the MASS MoCA galleries to relax and rejuvenate by taking in all of our exhibitions at your own pace. As you head home, look out your car window and admire the rolling Berkshire mountain range that has inspired so many literary greats, and Instagram a couple photos so your friends know that you did, in fact, take in some foliage during your fall weekend in the northern Berkshires.



Posted October 9, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under Berkshires, BLOG, Exhibitions, Lickety Split, North Adams, Openings, Theater, Uncategorized
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FreshGrass and R.O.P.E.S Team up for FreshGround

By Alliey Pevay

With FreshGrass around the corner, I am busy readying the campground for festival-goers. I have realized that FreshGround camping has become an important part of the North Adams community since its inception. As a resident of this city, it is exciting to see its culture intertwines with the culture of MASS MoCA and the bluegrass festival. A portion of camping pass proceeds is given to the R.O.P.E.S. program, which in turn provides organization and logistics to operate the campground, while a local sports team often provides concessions. In the past, campers from R.O.P.E.S. have helped lay out campsites in addition to helping FreshGround campers move in their gear.

R.O.P.E.S. is a camp run by local law enforcement and emergency personnel. The acronym stands for “Respecting Other People Encouraging Self-Esteem.” Campers divide into six teams, each led by an officer, and are challenged by low and high ropes courses to encourage teamwork and friendly competition, as well as overcome difficult obstacles physically and mentally.


Each course has a different objective and a new lesson to be learned. One example of this would be the “Leap of Faith.” This obstacle is a high ropes course in which a camper is hooked to a harness and grounded (via a thick climbing rope) by his or her group leader. A call-and-response communication method is used: a camper starts with, “Team can I trust you?” and the team echoes back, “You can trust us.” “Spotters ready?” comes next, with the leader responding, “Spotters ready.” Finally: “Ready to climb?” and the leader responds, “Climb away.” The camper then begins ascending thirty-five feet up the pegs hammered into a tree until he or she reaches a one square foot platform. Once at the platform, the camper is challenged to leap in an attempt to touch or grab a ball hanging about three feet away before flying back down to the ground.


As a young camper, I sat on that platform and was too scared to jump, as both my leader and teammates yelled up to me that I would be okay and could make the leap. Eventually someone suggested that I climb back down, and I did so with haste. After one year of R.O.P.E.S., campers may return as mentors who assist leaders in getting the kids through the obstacles. As a mentor, I still was afraid of the aforementioned course, but somehow the campers talked me into putting that harness and helmet back on and trying again. As I reached the platform and gazed down at my team, I was struck again with fear. This time, as my leader picked me up off my feet and scooted me closer to the edge, I heard one camper yell that I would be doing push-ups for the rest of the week if I did not jump. So I laughed and took the plunge and on my way down learned that trust really is key to any relationship.


As a member of the R.O.P.E.S. program, not only did I learn about teamwork, trust, respect, and all the other usual camp “take-aways,” but having law enforcement officials trust me with campers up in a tree while they set up the next event taught me a great deal about responsibility and accountability as a mentor. This experience gave me the opportunity to take the work I did and use it to form connections through my teenage years and into adulthood. As an intern for FreshGrass I now work with Lieutenant Dave Sacco – who I know well as the head of R.O.P.E.S. – as we map out campsites for the FreshGround area.

R.O.P.E.S. is not only meaningful to me, but to many North Adams families. Having a positive, organic experience with law enforcement has the ability to open the eyes of local youth. The proceeds from each FreshGround camping pass help the program continue growing for years to come, and for that I am grateful.

If you want further information check out R.O.P.E.S.’ website, as well as MASS MoCA’s website for tickets to FreshGrass.

Posted September 10, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, FreshGrass, Interns, North Adams, Uncategorized
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A Kid&#39s Summer at MASS MoCA

By the MASS MoCA Education Team

Kids Camp with Mark Stewart-12

Want to feel like a kid again? Take a look inside MASS MoCA’s summer art camps!


During the week of July 28, our Melody Makers camp created their own musical instruments and constructed a musical obstacle course.  The Bang On A Can musicians, who were in residence at MASS MoCA during the month of July, came by each day and shared their talents with our campers. The Melody Makers tried out instruments ranging from the musical saw to a one-of-a-kind silent guitar that can only be heard through a stethoscope.

Kids Camp with Mark Stewart-14

This week our Story Spinners campers are creating shadow puppets, character masks, and elaborate sets and costumes to bring their original tales to life.


During the last two weeks of August, art camps will continue with the Garden Gnomes & Fairies and Art Ninjas camps. Campers can expect to create fairy and gnome homes in the forest and hone their ninja skills in our expansive galleries.

Come get messy with us next summer or join us sooner for our February break camp!

Kids Teresita

Teresita Fernández, Black Sun (2014). Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong

Posted August 6, 2014 by MASS MoCA
Filed under BLOG, Kidspace, Museum Education, North Adams
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