Artist in Residence @ WEIR FARM ART CENTER . CT

The Daily Norwalk . WILTON & NORWALK . CT
by Alissa Letkowski MAY 24 . 2010

The Weir Farm Art Center has been running the "Artist in Residence" program since 1998, but is currently hosting its first artist since renovations to the new art studio were completed, according to Superintendent Linda Cook.

The newest artist is Jen Pepper, who describes her work as conceptual, fabulous and for sale. She works with a variety of mediums, including leather and carvings. Her newest artistic goal is "trying to capture things you cannot hold, like fleeting time, fleeting memories and clouds," said Pepper, whose favorite thing about Weir Farm is the peace and quiet. She works without radio or wireless internet to keep out the distractions.

Pepper, a Toronto-born associate professor of art and design at Cazenovia College, arrived Sunday at the farm. While most artists in residence stay for a month, Pepper will only be there for two weeks due to previous commitments.

Artists may apply to work and live on the farm for a period of one month free of charge, according to Cook. The farm typically hosts 12 artists each year, but did not hold the program for about five months while they added onto the existing barn with attached garage.

"The new studio will enable the program to evolve and will position the center to more fully participate in regional and national art arenas and to offer more art programs to the community," according to the art center website.

Cook believes having an artist living and painting on the site immensely benefits the historic site. "Having an artist in residence keeps the tradition of using this site to inspire art," she said. "It's like, I want to come and paint where Weir painted."

"I love to go to places that have history to them. There's like a spirit in the land," said Pepper. "This was a property that was not only owned and prized by artists, but art was a big part of the landscape."

Since the program's birth, 115 visual artists have taken advantage of the opportunity from all over the United States, Tunisia, Germany, Australia, India and the Netherlands, according to the website. Although only 12 artists are selected, Cook estimates that between 600 and 800 artists visit the grounds to capture the rolling fields and historic stone walls every year.

The art center reports that of the almost 391 National Park Service sites, Weir Farm is one of the two parks dedicated to art.