Emily Lanctot, director and curator of Northern Michigan University's DeVos Art Museum, recently participated in a two-week residency that brings an international consortium of artists to Monte Castello di Vibio, Italy. The gathering culminates in an exhibition of artworks and corresponding catalog.
During the Living in the Play: nido II residency, the group explored the social and historical landscape, the use of land resources, and the hidden histories of Monte Castello di Vibio and the surrounding region.
They journeyed to the mummified forest at Dunarobba, the dying city of Civita di Bagnoregio, the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Bagni, the cathedral of Santa Chiara, the Basilica of St. Francesco, the Hermitage of the Friars of St Francis and the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. These trips guided conversations and contributed to the making practices of each artist.
Lanctot created an art piece inspired by the brick walls of the Italian village. They were strong and tall from the outside, but she could feel the air from inside the buildings. Her art is about architecture, what it keeps out and lets in and how it's part of the ecosystem.
“It's always valuable to spend time with other artists understanding their practice and getting to learn about the questions they ask of the world,” said Lanctot. “The trip was based on different kinds of research about the environment and places that are sort of dying because of how the environment is changing.
"The other research was about ecological questions about how to grow food in changing climates. It's important to always ask those questions so that we can come up with solutions for the future because we're going to be impacted by big things like climate. Being able to reflect that in an aesthetic way or maybe in a tangible way is important because you might reach audiences that you wouldn't otherwise reach.”
This residency is held in partnership with the International Center for the Arts in Monte Castello di Vibio. The center hosts residencies, retreats, excursions and workshops in the scenic Italian village, hoping for artists, writers and intellectuals alike to immerse themselves in Italy. Poor Farm Experiment in rural Wisconsin, USA, is partnered with the residency and has hosted Living In the Play since 2018. It is a not-for-profit art experiment and residency founded in 2008 at the former Waupaca County Poor Farm, built in 1876.
Lanctot is also an NMU alumna. She receive a BFA in drawing and painting in 2008, then earned an MFA in interdisciplinary studio arts from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2010. Read a previous "Campus Closeup" profile on her here.