North Mountain acknowledges the inequities that exists in art fields and creative professions. We feel we must take mindful and resolute steps to address these commonplace inequities that are often made invisible. For this reason, we try our best to develop programming for people from communities that have been historically oppressed or marginalized.
We’re supportive of the self-taught because we recognize that formal education may be prohibitive to many people in creative practices or from lower-income backgrounds.
We’re supportive of women & LGBTQ people who practice in technology and other traditionally male-dominated fields, because we recognize that the culture of these fields can often prohibit others from feeling welcome.
We’re supportive of West Virginian residents, because our location puts us in direct connection to a rich field of artists and makers who are often undervalued.
We’re supportive of First Nation, indigenous, and native peoples, because as US citizens we recognize we’re almost always on land stolen by tactics of genocide and broken treaties.
We’re supportive of those who identify as black, brown, of Middle Eastern descent, and other people of color, because we’re deeply troubled by the continuation of and recent rise in racism.
We’re supportive of documented and undocumented immigrants and refugees, because we recognize the violence of US global capitalism has marginalized many internationally, who then seek safety within US borders.
We’re supportive and flexible with the needs of the disabled, because we recognize that those with disabilities are often unwelcomed, not as a reflection of their value but because of inaccessibility.
We’re supportive of those who are neurodivergent, because we recognize that there are an infinite number of ways of interpreting, interacting, and being in this world, beyond the neurotypical.
We’re supportive of those in the LGBTQ community, because we recognize that gender is a construction and that a straight-norm is as well.
We’re supportive of families, because we recognize that parents have greater need for flexibility and support.
We welcome people who are young and old, because we recognize the value of creative work during different life stages.
We recognize the many intersectionalities that these statements begin to enmesh, and that one is rarely exclusive of the others. We hope that by committing to support these discrete categories, we’ll also be more welcoming to those that share in other identities. We recognize that there are many other identities, nuanced categories, and special areas of need, that are beyond what’s listed here. We remain open to those that we have not yet met.
By providing durational residencies, we try to encourage people to commit to their more risky creative endeavors. We see artmaking and creative practices as forms of philosophical and ontological research that have the ability to lead in social change and action.
In our own incremental way, we are trying to increase equity and accessibility in the arts for those of different backgrounds, perspectives, and practices. We are doing this by privileging certain types of applications through juried and curatorial processes, pursuing alternative forms of outreach, and remaining flexible in our planning and resources when working with those that have different kinds of needs.
We’re also strengthening our connections within the cultures and ecologies local to West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. So often the arts and creative practices are detrimentally siloed. We’re already on a mountain; we don’t also want to be on an island! We encourage residents to focus on the geography, culture, and ecology of the site. We also work in collaboration with neighboring organizations to curate, direct, and facilitate research at the residency.
We respect artistic labor as work, for both residents and staff. Though we haven’t yet been able to provide stipends to residents, it’s a long-term goal we’re working towards. We currently provide residents and staff with comfortable living and working space, access to material resources, research assistance, documentation, and opportunities to publicly share their work. We also respect our staff’s practices by providing a fair wage. We look for opportunities to publicly present and educate on the residency model, as a way to increase the value and awareness of artistic labor.
Our evolving network of past, present, and future residents & friends is important to us. One of our primary goals is to nurture critical thinking, conversation, and connectivity, by offering a safe space for experimentation for this community. To strengthen this effort we offer studio visits and small group critiques, teach simple bread making skills, and plan to create a periodic publication of resident and staff work.
We operate on the Uphill Farm site, a generously lent property rich in its own ecology, culture, history, and traditions. To respect the land and its structures, we maintain an attitude of observation and caretaking. We’re working to extend the network of trails and are creating sitting spots and work outposts to better integrate the residency and the land. We’re also working on specific programming to reconnect the space to the larger environment & culture of Back Creek Valley.