Artist Spotlight: MacDowell Colony

To provide an inspiring place for artists to work in the

stimulating company of peers. That was the vision for

the MacDowell Colony at its founding over 100 years


MacDowell residencies are sought after by almost

2500 people each year, but there are only about 290

artists accepted annually. What is amazing is that the

selection is based on talent ­ its not all about training,

education, awards, or experience of the artists. Even

so, MacDowell fellows can boast 78 Pulitzer prizes,

MacArthur Fellowships, Guggenheim awards, and more. There is a reason this place is so special!

If you have not yet visited The MacDowell Colony, high on a hill in Peterborough, New Hampshire, it is a

secluded paradise. Set at an old New England farm, there are 32 independent artist studios where artists

from all over the world come to be inspired by this pastoral New England setting.

On the campus the slow trek towards sustainability is a key part of farm life. Solar panels provide power

to significant parts of the campus. A garden of vegetables and fruit trees supplies the food to a kitchen

focused on nourishing art with locally sourced ingredients. There are 24 chickens, and artists get to

10/26/2016 The Ewing Arts Awards, Marketing the Arts, The MacDowell Colony and MORE! 3/6

volunteer for chicken wrangler duty at the end of each day, to get the chickens back safely in their pens.

A local farmer hays the fields where, in the past, sheep or goats from another local farm have grazed.

"At MacDowell you feel private and free," says one

artist of her experience. That certainly sounds like

New England living in the "Live free or Die" state.

Sense of place can be an important element for an

artist working at MacDowell. Artists build

connections not only on the secluded farm

campus, but as part of the Monadnock region's

community for the duration of their time with

MacDowell. From going into local schools, to

working with local arts organizations, to sharing

work during First Fridays in downtown

Peterborough, the MacDowell residents have become an important part of the culture of the Monadnock


And its important to note that participating in these programs is not at all required of the artists. Its all

volunteer. "Recently there has been a long assent in the level of participation in community engagement

projects." says executive director David Macy. "When an artist has a good time going into town or into a

school, they share that story with fellow artists over dinner. Then more artists want to engage in the


Through the MacDowell Downtown program, artists share work and stories on the first Friday of every

month from March through November in Bass Hall in downtown Peterborough. The small town provides

artists with a sounding board with an audience that truly appreciates the work, and has had years of

exposure to dozens of different artists' work.

The MacDowell Colony residents also engage with students in the schools. Students get to meet real,

professional artists. They get to see that that life is a real possibility, just like being a teacher, a doctor, a

policeman, a pilot. And they get to create art with internationally renowned artists. This program reaches

nearly 5,000 students and young artists in the Monadnock region each year.

"We are focused on being good citizens in our own community," says executive director David Macy.

There are plenty of opportunities for artists to go off campus, but

there is only one day each year that the campus is open to the

general public, Medal Day. On Medal Day, The MacDowell Colony

awards an artist with the Edward MacDowell Medal for making

outstanding contributions to American culture. Artists' studios are

also opened up for artists to share their works in progress with