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Artist and SVA Alumnus Nadia DeLane Co-Founds Visual Muze, a New Creative Residency on Governor's Island
November 6, 2020 by Greg Herbowy
A photograph of several labeled mason jars, each containing colorful flowers.
Credit: Visual Muze
A photograph of the front porch of a 19th-century home.

The Visual Muze residency is located in a historic home on Governor's Island.

Credit: Visual Muze
A photograph of a painting, with the artist's hand, which is holding a paintbrush, working on a section.

Artist and 2020 Visual Muze resident Marie E. Saint-Cyr works on a painting.

Credit: Visual Muze

Earlier this year, multimedia artist Nadia DeLane (MFA 2015 Visual Narrative) and Savona Bailey McClain, executive director of the West Harlem Art Fund, a public arts organization, established Visual Muze, a new residency dedicated to artists whose lives have been displaced or adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and whose practices focus on storytelling. 


Based out of a 19th-century military house on Governors Island and supported by The Trust for Governors Island, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Visual Muze hosts a total of 18 participants for four- to 10-week sessions in both summer and fall, offering four studio rooms as well as outdoor work space, from 8:30am – 3:00pm on weekdays and 8:00am – 4:00pm on weekends. Artists can create collaboratively or independently, creating original works that explore narrative forms through a variety of mediums—whether performance, film, environmental, fine art, print or digital. The program also offers prompts for inspiration. 

A photograph of an artist working at a table in his studio. On the floor to the left of him is a wood sculpture in progress.

Artist and 2020 Visual Muze resident Kraig Blue at work in one of the residency's studios.

Credit: Visual Muze

Visual Muze has so far hosted 17 artists in fields as varied as sculpture, dance/choreography and landscape design. Over the summer, the program and its residents presented “Memory Opus,” a multimedia exhibition drawing on “COVID Diaries POC,” a West Harlem Art Fund oral-history project aimed at preserving the experiences of people of color during the pandemic. And recently, the program added another SVA alumnus to its administrative team: comic artist, designer and illustrator Gabi Berkers (MFA 2019 Visual Narrative), who handles content strategy. 


“Visual storytelling connected me with the communities I care about and allowed me to expand creatively,” DeLane says. “So it’s a dream come true to realize a residency that honors narrative arts. It’s been rewarding to see performance projects develop over the span of several weeks. I really look forward to the 2021 sessions and the opportunity to give artists space to be imaginative and dynamic in this historic moment.”


Visual Muze is now accepting applications for summer and fall 2021 residencies. For more information on the residency and how to apply, click here; applications are due Sunday, November 15.