Erie Canal Artist in Residence

Natalie Stetson



Oct 21, 2022


Sep 20, 2022

Position Summary: The Erie Canal Museum, located in downtown Syracuse, New York, showcases the only remaining weighlock building in the United States. The Museum collects and preserves Canal material and provides engaging educational experiences that champion an appreciation and understanding of the Erie Canal’s transforming effects on the past, present and future. Established in 1962, the Erie Canal Museum shares 200 years of Erie Canal history through interactive displays, original artifacts, and public programs. As part of the Erie Canal Museum’s 2023 program, Ode: Exploring the Erie Canal through Art, and in partnership with the New York Power Authority (NYPA), the New York State Canal Corporation (Canals), and NYPA’s Reimagine the Canals (RTC) initiative, the Erie Canal Museum is seeking an Artist in Residence for a period of one (1) year. The Erie Canal Museum is committed to building a diverse and inclusive workforce. We strongly encourage members of traditionally underrepresented communities to apply.
The Residency will focus on a year-long creative inquiry into the Canal and the logistics of Canal maintenance and operations: what is required to keep the Canal in a good state of repair so that it is reliable, safe, and financially sustainable. The Canal Corporation is frequently asked to both fix the aging Canal infrastructure and extend the length of the Canal navigation season: two requests that can be at odds with each other. The public is not exposed to or aware of the nature and scale of the challenge to keep the Canal in shape operationally. This Residency is for Artists who wish to engage with the Canal and adjacent Trail, Canals staff, New York’s Canal communities, and visitors. It is an opportunity to reflect upon the Canal’s physical, environmental and social condition; materiality; and context.

Residency Structure: The Residency will begin with a (4) four-month Research Phase: a time for the Artist and the Canal Corporation to establish mutual trust through shared exposure to each other’s work and process. The Artist will be assigned a sponsor who will facilitate introductions and connections. The Artist will shadow Canals staff and attend meetings, trainings, and site visits. The Research Phase ends with the Artist proposing a project, designed in collaboration with Erie Canal Museum, Canals, and RTC, to execute/implement during the remaining months of the Residency.
The Implementation Phase of the Residency is marked by approval of the project proposal and initiation of the work. The Artist will be tasked with communicating to the public the physical, social, and/or environmental context of the Canal and Canal work. The Artist must engage with the public: the Artist must host at least (3) three public-facing events for the public to engage with and observe the Artist’s process. The Artist’s project may consist of an event, a performance, a temporary work of art, a video, a mural, a permanent art installation, or other similar work. In consultation with the artist, work(s) from the project will be retained by the project organizers. Throughout the Residency, the Artist, Erie Canal Museum, Canals, and RTC will have regular virtual or in-person check-in meetings to assist in project development.

Location: The Artist’s work shall be focused on the New York State Canal system which includes the Erie, Oswego, Cayuga-Seneca and Champlain Canals. A workspace is not included in this Residency, though the Artist could potentially activate Canal buildings, such as a vacant powerhouse, as a temporary workspace and/or for public engagement if agreed to by Canals.

Artist Fee: The total funding for the one-year Residency is $40,000, which will be paid in equal monthly payments. The $40,000 is inclusive of the Artist’s fee and the costs of the deliverable/work product. The Artist is responsible for all budgeting and estimating, for managing their own budget, and for submitting monthly invoices in a timely manner. There will be no additional funding.


Eligibility: The selected Artist should be deeply interested in the New York State Canal system, the physical landscape of upstate New York, and community planning and development; have demonstrated experience with social interventions through artistic practice; and have a desire to work specifically within government systems. Additionally:
• Only individual artists or artist collectives may apply; artists representing non-profit and for-profit organizations may not apply
• Artists must be (18) years of age or older
• Artists must be eligible to work in New York State
• Artists may not be currently enrolled in school on a full-time basis
• Preference may be given to artists who have lived or worked in Canal communities