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‘We Come From Afar’

Artist-in-Residence program closes with exhibition at Factory Works Gallery

For eight years, the Pajama Factory’s Artist-in-Residence program has been providing an extensive work experience during which artists have time to create two- and three-dimensional work in studio space. The seven-week residency program typically concludes at the Factory Works Gallery, Studio 10, Pajama Factory, 1307 Park Ave., with an exhibition of participants’ work. “We Come From Afar,” a collection of art from this year’s AIR program artists, will open with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday.

According to program director Ralph Wilson, the program began eight years ago and is a collaboration between the Pajama Factory and the area’s Arts Alliance. Administered by Factory Works, both national and international students are welcome to apply.

“The program serves two purposes,” Wilson said. “One is to introduce the region to fresh, new art from established and emerging artists that may not otherwise be seen in our area. The other is to introduce the vibrant arts community that we have in Williamsport to a broad audience. Some residents have chosen to remain in the area after the program has ended.”

About 50 artists have participated in the Artist-in-Residence program, which has seen students from all around the United States, as well as Germany and the Netherlands. Local individuals are encouraged to apply, as well. This year’s seven-week program included three artists with a local connection.

Artists must identify an intended project and goals for their time at the Pajama Factory as part of the application process, and they are expected to produce work for the closing exhibit.

“Ultimately, the selection committee was looking for a dedication to craft, a vision for what and how they’d utilize their time while here and a good balance of different mediums,” said Brian Spies, volunteer with the program. “The program is a multidisciplinary program, so we don’t want all photographers or all woodworkers, but a diversity of approaches that work well together and will help bring a positive, creative energy to the Pajama Factory community.”

As the director, Wilson works with volunteers who help secure housing and hospitality for the artists while they are here. With the help of local landlords, apartments near the Pajama Factory that typically are used as student housing during the school year are provided at no cost for the program, which takes place from June 1 through July 21 while students are on summer break.

This year, 15 applicants from as far away as Australia and as nearby as Williamsport applied to participate in the Artist-in-Residence program. Although it was a difficult task to make selections, Spies feels the six chosen were a great group and he is excited to share the work they’ve been creating.

Participating artists included work in the fields of photography, sculpture, installation and printmaking. Each utilized the mediums in differing, but inspiring ways.

The work of Tom Seay, of Danville, explores the expanding field of sculpture through the combination of traditional portrait painting with non-traditional recycled and repurposed materials.

Seay received a bachelor’s degree in art education and graphic design at Edinboro University of Pennsylvana. He taught elementary and high school art for seven years in the Charlotte, N.C., area. He later received a master’s degree in sculpture and painting at Winthrop University, Rock Hill, S.C., where he was a graduate assistant working as a graphic and web designer for two years and a metal shop technician for one year in the department of fine arts.

“I also had the opportunity to work as an artist assistant for two years, where I worked on projects such as large-scale public sculpture that is installed at a firm in Charlotte, and creating digital renderings that will be sent off to be etched into glass for new train stops in Charlotte,” Seay said.

He was interested in the residency’s length and offerings, such as access to its shops and studios, woodshop, print shop, photo lab and ceramics studio.

“This residency has given me the time and space to explore a wider scope of work and materials,” Seay said. “I have also had the time to explore other ideas for bodies of work that I would not have otherwise had the time to dive into.”

Other artists from this year’s program include:

• Madison Vermilya, Philadelphia, uses photography to provide a look at three different major places in her life – Philadelphia, Canton and Williamsport.

• Riley Stensland, Loyalsock Township, created a small set of sculptural pieces that may or may not be functional on some level, but show a fluidity between sculpture and furniture.

• Erik Pedersen, Tallahassee, Fla., has continued long-running investigations into storytelling, dark humor and familial anecdotes using ink drawings and prints to sculpture, sound, installation and video work.

• Haley Lauw, Tallahassee, Fla., created a new body of print and sculptural works through photo-real printmaking processes and object assemblages.

• Dave Row, Las Vegas, investigates issues of place, history, psychology and economics through sculpture.

For more information about the Artist-in-Residence program, visit air.pajamafactory.net or call 570-323-7650.

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