Art doesn’t happen by chance. Artists generate ideas, but they need space and time to develop these ideas. For visual artists, it all comes together in the studio, the place where that spark of inspiration catches fire. For most artists, the studio is more than one room set aside for work. The studio is the whole environment where creativity is nurtured. This environment includes homes, gardens and all the places where family and friends gather and interact. The homes and studios of artists were catalysts for creativity.
Artists’ homes and studios communicate power of place through physical and ephemeral sensations. There are tangible things: buildings, works of art, domestic furnishings, studio paraphernalia, the view out the window into a landscape perhaps shaped by the artist. Then there are fleeting impressions: light falling on an easel, a passing rainstorm, the scent of turpentine or wet plaster. When you explore the physical places where artists made art, you learn something of the pragmatic requirements of art – how much space is required, the special tools, the time, the craft and techniques that must be mastered. You learn about the hard work of the hand and the head that goes on when art is made. You stand where ideas became transformed into something real – where pencil made a mark on paper, where finger molded clay, where a chisel carved a block of wood. Looking around the studio environment, you can discover a specific, demonstrable relationship between an artist, his or her art, and the studio itself and its surroundings. Equally important, you can be transported into an artist’s imagination when you enter into spaces where creativity was ubiquitous. For many, this is an experience that happens in no other historic site. Studios are magical and wondrous places because something special was born there.
The Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios program is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the places where art was made. We are a coalition of independent museums that have come together to celebrate and investigate creativity. Every place in the HAHS program was the home and working studio of an American artist. Each of these places is now devoted to understanding and explaining how an artist made their art. In fact, some of our sites represent an artist couple, or an art colony; these places demonstrate complex artistic interchange. We join the dialogue between art and the space where it was created. We do it by ensuring the long-term longevity of buildings and landscapes and objects. And, we do it by making these places open to everyone, and by inviting everyone into the conversation. Come, witness creativity.