UES 62

Artistic Vision

TheWatermill Center By Christy Smith-Sloman


A headless man with cotton candy for brains, a man with hooves suspended between two trees, film director Jim Jarmusch rocking out on an electric guitar. Such sights might raise a few eyebrows, but not at The Watermill Center in Long Island, an interdisciplinary laboratory for the arts and humanities. Founded by avant-garde theater director Robert Wilson in 1991, The Center officially opened to the public as a year- round facility in 2006. Underneath stately trees and scattered amongst eight acres of lushgrounds, you’ll find The Robert Wilson Archive, The Watermill Study Library, The Library of Inspiration (an interactive digital library) meditation gardens, and a collection of notable works

of art from across the globe including such places as Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the indigenous people of the Arctic. The Center’s main focus is its year-round Artist Residency Program, established in 2006, which provides artists with the time and space to pursue creative development. Each year the Center hosts over twenty residencies from all disciplines, including literature, performance, dance and the visual arts. Previous residencies have featured artists from the Shinnecock Indian Nation, British sound artist Oliver Beer, Canadian artist Geoffrey Farmer, and acclaimed American artist, Carrie Mae Weems. Other programs include a public Summer Lecture Series, a collaborative International Summer Program for young and emerging

artists, as well as numerous community outreach programs. “Throughout the year, the Center hosts workshops for local children and schools,” says Robert Wilson. “The Artists In Residence come from around the world, and have a variety of backgrounds and artistic practices, so our Education Programs are centered around engaging and teaching children through global art experiences. “Nearly everything we offer to the public is free, whether it be a tour, workshop or presentation. We want everyone to be able to attend,” explains Elka Rifkin, Director of The Watermill Center who runs its day-to- day operations. “We have just developed a new relationship with The Retreat, a housing location for families in violent and abusive


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