Eunice Choi on Prairie Center of the Arts

Artists Asking Artists

Katrina Neumann talks with Eunice Choi

About Prairie Center of the Arts (PCA)

Katrina Neumann, April 2014

Katrina1Photograph (c) 2014 by Dawn Gettler

Katrina Neumann (KN): I was reading the profile of Prairie Center of the Arts (PCA) on Rate My Artist Residency and the ratings are a mixed bag from amazing to mediocre. Do you feel this roughly describes the residency that there are amazing aspects and there are mediocre aspects? If so, can you talk about the highs and lows of attending the PCA?

Eunice Choi (EC): My experiences at the PCA were great. They are very engaged with art scene and community in Peoria. I had options to go to local art events such as open studios, local gallery openings, and a special art event that is hosted by the Peoria Art Guild. In addition, the PCA hosted the open studios for the PCA artists in residence where I had the opportunity to meet other local artists and engage with the community of Peoria. They do their best to create comfortable environments for artists to be as creative as possible. Any equipment I needed is provided besides art supplies.

The only downside I can think of is the distance between the studios and our accommodation. It was about a 20 minute drive between each location. If you are an artist who likes to keep your own schedule, you should bring your own vehicle. If you are flexible, you will enjoy the car rides with the director and fellow residents through sharing interesting conversations. We had a transportation schedule from Monday thru Saturday, average of 8 hours a day at the studio. I focused on my work during those hours and did all of other activities such as thinking, researching, and applying for other opportunities when I was at the house, trying to make best use of the given schedule.

KN: The website mentions that the PCA is a fully funded residency. Were there any additional costs that you had to cover as the artist from travel to food to money you weren’t making at a job? 

EC: I had to cover the cost of traveling, food and art materials. I flew into the Peoria International Airport and was picked up by the director. This saved me financially on transportation from the airport to the residency. They also took me to the local grocery store for food once or twice a week as needed. The food market in Peoria is cheaper compared to where I reside in Boston. So, it didn’t cause me too much hardship.

KN: Can you tell me more about the space? What were the studios like? Did you have living accommodations available? Can you describe the living accommodations? Were you able to exhibit in the gallery or did they have a pre-planned exhibition program?

EC: The studio is open space with divided walls. It is not ideal for artists who prefer closed-door private studios but I was never interrupted when I was working in my studio and was easily allowed to focus on my art practice. They also have amazing large open space upstairs; it is the size of warehouse. Artists-in-residence are encouraged to use and explore the space. It is perfect for installation or large-scale projects. The only issue might be that it is not air-conditioned or heated which might be only ideal for certain seasons.

The accommodations are located in a beautiful rural area; there are trails to the woods near by the house. It is very quiet and peaceful. The house was a perfect place to think and research. At night, the sky is filled with stars. You can easily spot deer tracks on the snow in the yard. Once in a while, you can actually see the group of deer passing by outside of kitchen windows.How can you complain?

KN: How long was your residency and time at the Prairie Center of the Arts? Did you feel that was enough time to complete your work? What projects did you end up completing during your time there?

EC: My stay at the PCA was about a month. I was originally scheduled to be there for two months but had to shorten it due to teaching and exhibition opportunities. I wish I could have stayed for longer; time just went so fast. I completed a 14” x 28” sized colored pencil drawing and started 28 ½” x 40” sized drawing. I also did a few experiments using watercolor and gouache paintings on different types of paper.

KN: On a different note, more attune to professional practices for artists . . . you have received a lot of awards, juried exhibitions, and residencies. Can you talk about your application process and work that you do outside of your studio to help you attain certain awards or residencies? What is your motivational advice for those looking into different residency programs?

EC: I teach part-time and work in my studio full-time. I believe managing your time is the most challenging part as an artist. I try to put 50-60 hours in studio but the reality does not help you with that.

It is very important to connect with your colleagues and fellow artists; the art world is smaller than we think. . . so why not help out each other?

Honestly, my research for art opportunities comes from being a stalker of other emerging artists. I look at other artists who have similar dialogues with my own. I learn their resumes to find hidden gems. It is encouraging to know what similar career-level artists are awarded.

Looking at the list of past residents at the programs that you are applying to helps. It provides you with some sense of what types of work and artists they support in their residencies. I think that when you apply 30 to 40 opportunities, at least one will award you.

#9 (Family Tree)Drawing (c) 2014 by Eunice Choi
Katrina4Photograph (c) 2014 by Eunice Choi
Katrina2Photograph (c) 2014 by Eunice Choi

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Eunice Choi was born 1983 in Seoul, South Korea. Choi received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Tufts University and School of the Museum of Fine Arts and her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from University of Wisconsin, Whitewater. She has recently attended Prairie Center for the Arts.  Choi will be participating in the Vermont Studio Center this summer. In the past, Choi attended Haystack Mountain School of Craft and the Penland School of Crafts for a several years. Eunice Choi exhibits worldwide and currently lives and works in Boston, MA.

Current Exhibitions:

Satellite, Khaki Gallery, Boston, MA

Three Person Exhibition: Eunice Choi, Ronni Komarow, Martha Shea Smith, Holzwasser Gallery, Newton, MA

Upcoming Exhibitions:

2014 National Prize Show, Kathryn Schultz Gallery and University Place Gallery, Cambridge, MA

11th National Juried Exhibition, Ceres Gallery, New York, NY