Rauschenberg Residency – CM14 Award Winner Tamara Staples

One of the awards through Photolucida’s annual Critical Mass is the appointment to the Rauschenberg Residency in Captiva, Florida. In 2014, I was the proud winner of this prestigious award and took up residence from September 23rd – October 24, 2015. The residency is a five week program that allows the artist to concentrate fully on their work in a beautiful tropical South Florida island environment. This was my first residency experience and I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I prepared to work on a couple of projects that had been ongoing and brought a few new ideas as well. This residency exceeded all of my expectations. To begin with, the facilities were ample: a ceramics studio, a welding studio, print making studio, dance studio, silk screening, imaging lab, etc. And because of the supportive and kind staff, complicated works of art could be created in a shorter period of time with expert guidance. In addition, each artist was able to pick their private studio which suited the needs of their projects.

The artists in attendance were from all over the world, seven in total. I learned much from observing their creative process and was inspired by their work ethic. We worked seven days a week, pausing to share meals and going straight back to our studios until late. Although I was only able to swim in the ocean three times during my stay, the beauty of the landscape was not lost on me. The view from my bedroom boasted an amazing view of the Florida sunrise. A morning jog took me took me into the jungle and onto the beach where birds of every stripe clung to the waters edge searching for breakfast. After picking fruit from a nearby tree for my own breakfast, I was off to my studio for a long day of work. The residency is located on a gorgeous 20 acres that encompasses both the bay, the Gulf of Mexico and a small but lush “jungle”. A simple bike through the property was stunning in every direction. One of the projects I completed while in Captiva was inspired by the local flora and fauna.

The heart of the residency, however, is Bob (as the artist came to know him) Rauschenberg. It was his prolific art making and ability to bring people together that inspired gathering a group of interdisciplinary artist to one place to start conversations about art and so much more. My time spent at the Rauschenberg Residency had an enormous impact on me both personally and artistically. The gift of time is priceless. My artistic practice has never been stronger. And I will always have the memories of this extraordinary place. Thank you Photolucida and Critical Mass jury for believing in me and my work.

– Tamara Staples (website here!)

Tamara and palm leaf
Main studio
Working in the imaging lab
Sunrise view from my room
Fish House with blue heron