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Ready for Launch

Nurturing the Next Generation of Artists

By Gaye Hill
Three pottery vases.

Ready for Launch

Nurturing the Next Generation of Artists

By Gaye Hill

Photo: Ceramics by Rachel Stewart, ’21

Established in 2018, Meredith’s Emerging Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program assists recent graduates in art, dance, and theatre in developing their creative practice and building a portfolio of mature work in their chosen discipline.

AIR aims to be a stepping stone between an undergraduate education in the arts and the next phase in professional development. Residents create a body of work unrestricted by project guidelines and course-specific learning objectives and thus develop a deeper and more independent relationship with their creative practice. Participants also give back to the Meredith community by mentoring and supporting current students.

Why AIR Works

Each semester, alumnae who are selected as residents are welcomed back to campus to grow and strengthen their artistic practice in a supportive community.

AIR participants have access to studio facilities and mentorship by Meredith’s experienced faculty as they create work to launch their professional careers or apply for graduate programs in art, dance, or theatre.

Artists chosen for the program also contribute 10 hours per week to the community through activities that include teaching assistance, facilitating open studio hours, and participating in group critiques.

At the conclusion of their residency, Emerging Artists have the opportunity to exhibit, stage, or perform the work they have produced while in residence at Meredith.

Art sculptures.

Ceramics by Rachel Stewart, ’21

Why AIR Matters

Holly Fischer, assistant professor of studio art, notes that many creative media are facilities-dependent, meaning artists need access to a dedicated workspace as well as specific tools and equipment. The residency provides both the basic necessities for producing their work along with faculty mentorship and a peer group of other artists who are in a similar developmental phase. 

“Monthly group critiques offer residents critical feedback that fosters conceptual development and encourages experimentation that can lead to new approaches and directions,” said Fischer. “Residents also have the opportunity to develop practical skills applicable to a range of careers in the arts. They gain experience in teaching methodology by assisting in the classroom, they learn how to maintain a safe and functional studio, and can acquire skills in gallery management.” 

Professor of Dance Carol Finley said choreographers can face similar challenges.

“Time and space are top commodities and often elusive to new choreographers who want to build a portfolio for graduate school or simply explore a burning idea,” she said. “AIR makes both time and space available to our alumnae to not only create new work but to produce it for the stage as well.”

Finley noted that the application and selection process alone enhances applicants’ resumes, and the experience is an effective transition from student work to pre-professional. “Even for students who might not pursue graduate work in dance, the process of working with a student cast under the faculty production director is beneficial,” she said.

What Residents Have Done

The work produced through AIR varies as greatly as the 18 artists who have participated to date. Here are just a few – read more stories and see residents’ work at

Visual Art

Woven texture art.

Fiber art by Taylor McGee,’19

Visual Art Residents have worked in ceramics, fibers, and painting; photography was recently added as a fourth medium and additional media are being considered. Thirteen residents have participated to date. Fall 2022 Emerging Artists-in-Residence in Visual Art will hold their exhibition in the Gaddy-Hamrick Corridor Gallery from December 8, 2022 – January 27, 2023.

Rachel Stewart, ’21, focused on ceramics while also assisting in the studio. She now works in the Apex Senior Center running the studio and teaching ceramics classes, a position that was a direct result of her residency.

Taylor McGee, ’19, is a fiber artist who founded Curated Craft Market, a small pop-up art market. “This residency helped show me that making art, being in a creative community, and teaching and sharing my passion isn’t just what I want to be doing, it’s what I need to be doing!”


Two images side by side; one of someone performing in a play, and the other a student smiling and crossing her arms.

Jordan Clodfelter, ’20, improved her scene painting abilities and technical design skills. She went on to complete an assistantship at Temple Theatre and a Technical Director position at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Leslie Castro, ’19, used her grant to design videos used in a production of No Exit and wrote a 70-page stage manager’s operational manual for use by the theatre department, drawing on her experiences as a stage manager for Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. Since completing her residency, Castro has developed a passion for bridging gaps in mental health care and is pursuing a graduate degree in social work with the ultimate goal of becoming a licensed counselor.


Students dancing during a performance.

Photo from DanceWorks Rehearsal, 2015.

During their time as Emerging Residents, dance majors Natalie Piper, ’18, Summer Warrington, ’19, and Megan Beachem, ’19, each choreographed a new contemporary modern work for Meredith Dance Theatre (MDT). They rehearsed weekly with a selected cast to create the works, which were then performed in MDT in Concert with professional lighting and video documentation.

Are you interested in applying to be an Emerging Artist in Residence? You can find program information and application details at

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