Hiram College

Christopher Ryan, associate professor of art, has earned a highly competitive residency in Léhon, France, this summer, from May 23 to July 18, 2015.

This artist residency program, the Alfred and Trafford Klots International Program for Artists, sponsored by the Maryland Institute College of Art, invites professional artists from all over the world to apply by submitting a portfolio of recent work and a statement to a blind jury, where only 5 percent of applicants are accepted.

Dr. Ryan and the other artists in residency will be living in a medieval village in France, full of history and surrounded by endless magnificent landscapes providing endless inspiration. He described this area of France as the ideal place to immerse oneself in art, not only for landscape, but for the sun that shines past 10 p.m. and provides ample time to explore, create and grow.

Dr. Ryan, who teaches a landscape painting class at Hiram College, hopes to use the surroundings to his advantage to grow and challenge himself. He plans to paint on a larger scale than he typically works with and to utilize the studio space in the village’s medieval abbey to explore new application techniques.

But the artists aren’t just limited to their immediate surroundings; they have ability to travel alone, in groups or with the program hosts to the coast or other nearby cities for endless and new inspiration. During the program artists may even travel by ferry to the United Kingdom. The lack of restrictions provides the artists with the ability to do whatever suits their craft best. While he doesn’t plan on taking the ferry, Dr. Ryan hopes still to travel and explore.

“I plan on trying to do it all,” he said.

But perhaps more important than what surrounds them, is what doesn’t. At this residency program, none of the back-home distractions exist, providing the artists with undisturbed focus.

“Sometimes it’s hard to find that time, not just hours on the clock, but time to have undisturbed focus and inventiveness to what you’re doing,” he said. “This residency is really all about that: taking the artist out of their daily grind and offering amazing surroundings for them to explore and make the best of.”

The positive impact of the trip isn’t just limited to Dr. Ryan and his growth as an artist. He hopes to bring what he’s learned focusing on his work and from the other artists back to Hiram.

“Time spent away from campus immersed in one’s academic/creative discipline can provide the kind of enrichment that makes its way back into the classroom,” he explained. “Time and space to create and think more broadly and deeply can have a positive impact on teaching, curriculum design and new course creation.”

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