For the last 10 years, 360 Xochi Quetzal Artists and Writers Residency has offered hundreds of artists of varied disciplines the opportunity to enjoy a self-directed residency in Chapala, México. Artists have been inspired by the beauty of Lake Chapala, the largest lake in México. Our website has numerous testimonials about how residencies have taken their art to new places. 360 Xochi Quetzal has also attracted artistic people who have made the Lakeside area of México their home. Truly, 360 Xochi Quetzal has become a center of innovative connection.
In commemoration of the 360 Xochi Quetzal Artist and Writers Residency’s 10th anniversary, a new residency program was announced: The Free BIPOC Residency in Mexico. Applications opened in the fall of 2022 to artists who identify as Black, Indigenous or Persons of Color.
After a highly competitive jury process, we are happy to announce our First Place winner, Rosa Leff of Baltimore, Maryland. Ms. Leff is an award-winning visual artist who uses cut paper to illustrate scenes from the inner city. Cut paper is a traditional art form from many cultures, including Latino and Jewish, which along with being African American, are part of Leff’s multi-cultural identity.
Our Winner will spend one month living for free at a beautifully appointed live/work apartment on the grounds of the historic Hotel Villa QQ, a 20th century National Cultural Heritage site here in Chapala and she will also receive a $250 stipend that can be applied to airfare, food, or expenses.
Our Runner-ups will receive a discount on registration for future BIPOC residencies. We will feature more about them on our social media over the coming year, so stay tuned!
Honorable mention goes to our First runner-up, Karen Miranda Augustine from Toronto Canada. Her fiction and coming of age writing sample was extremely compelling and hard to put down.
Our Second Runner-up was Annie McCone-Lopez from Manhattan Beach, CA. Annie creates a personal and contemporary narrative using traditional Mexican iconography.
Deborah Kruger, the founder and director of the 360 Xochi Quetzal Residency engaged in a number of conversations with Black/Indigenous artist, Sunya Folayan, who had attended the self-directed residency program. Sunya was so transformed by the experience that she decided to move to Chapala in 2021.
Several themes emerged from those conversations: The need for rest for BIPOC creatives, the increasing need for safe space, the financial and health disparities facing BIPOC communities, and how taking extended time off is a luxury most working-class BIPOC artists cannot afford and that few dream of for themselves.
Sunya sees rest as revolutionary within her communities and crafted a lifestyle that protected her greatest resource – Time- and instituted strategies of rest that included working part-time, utilizing residencies, and saying “no” to ongoing volunteer “opportunities.” As a social activist, this was her way of planting seeds for change. Through those conversations, and Deborah Kruger’s own desire to use the residency to address disparities, the Free BIPOC Residency in Mexico was born.
The aim of this new residency is to provide artists an opportunity to benefit from having uninterrupted time to devote to their creativity, without the normal stressors and distractions that come with daily life. The Covid-19 pandemic, created a degree of havoc and disruption in everyone’s lives especially in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities where treatment options were less available and the death toll much higher.
Many residencies require some form of output by the resident artists. The radical component of the 360 Xochi Quetzal BIPOC Residency is that it encourages the key component of REST!
While rest is essential for everyone, it’s especially necessary for BIPOC people. We believe rest is a form of self-care, and a form of protest against a capitalist system that is often at odds with BIPOC and creative communities. Rest provides an opportunity to replenish our mental, physical, and emotional energy and to cope with the stress of daily life including relentless microaggressions suffered by BIPOC people. It helps us to be more productive and creative, and to develop healthier relationships with ourselves and our community. Rest helps us to restore our peace and balance, allowing us to approach our lives and our artmaking with a greater sense of clarity, resolve and purpose.
We hope that our BIPOC Winner Rosa Leff uses this month in whatever way best supports her and her remarkable artwork. There is no pressure for her to complete anything. We support her choices to use the month to rest and recharge. And to deepen her artistic practice using all the resources at her disposal.
We will be telling you more about Rosa in forthcoming blogs and social media posts. Please make sure that you follow us on Instagram @360xochiquetzal and on Facebook at 360 Xochi Quetzal.