Article written for Ann Arbor Concentrate. Photo by Doug Coombe. View it online here.
When art student Anya Klapischak graduated from the University of Michigan four years ago, she found herself living in a one-bedroom apartment on State Street in Ann Arbor, saddled with student loans and struggling to find a job in her field.
Now, Klapischak does what she loves every day – supporting and collaborating with fellow artists as the founder of The Hosting, an art gallery turned art residency.
“Washtenaw County deserves artists who are rigorous about their work,” Klapischak says. “And art residency is kind of like a boot camp. … We’re less interested in working with artists who have already established an art career. We want to help those who are still figuring it out.”
The inspiration for The Hosting came to Klapischak out of necessity. She was determined to have art play a critical role in her life, but was struggling to find a job at an art gallery or as a curator assistant.
While searching for jobs, Klapischak supported herself as a bartender and waitress and began to consider what her dream life would look like. Often, she thought of art residency programs she had experienced, where there was collaboration, feedback, and vulnerability among fellow artists.
“One night I was trying to figure out how to pay my rent,” Klapischak says. “I was pacing and looking at my walls and then this phrase flashed across my eyes. ‘It starts now.’ So, what do you do when the jobs that you want aren’t coming to fruition – you start your own job.”
With that, Klapischak decided she would bring art to herself and work with what was in the room, literally. She decided to turn her apartment into an art gallery. Inspired by her Ukranian upbringing and its focus on hospitality, Klapischak named the gallery The Hosting.
“This idea of hosting is at the heart of what I’m trying to do and inspire others to do,” she says. “Our mission statement is to be a good host to yourself, others, and to art.”
The Hosting held its first show in Klapischak’s apartment in late 2016. As executive director and curator, Klapischak built relationships with artists and selected the work to be shown. Two years later, The Hosting had grown to attract a larger, dedicated audience.
After The Hosting’s 20th show in December 2018, Klapischak knew it was time to find a bigger space and to add an art residency program.
The Hosting soon welcomed its first resident, local artist Brennan Greaves, for a six-month residency.
Greaves says his first months of art residency felt more like art therapy as he worked through his artistic process with Klapischak.
“I learned quickly that Anya would be challenging the limited but comfortable world I had created for myself, and that this residency was going to be much more about a psychological transformation than simply residing in a space and working,” Greaves says.
Klapischak says the draw of an art residency program is the opportunity for the artist to dedicate their time and energy to their work. However, Klapischak says it’s important to focus on the artist’s mental process, too
“When we work with artists, we want to look at their creative practices and values,” Klapischak says. “What we’re striving for is to find ways where the artist is using excess energy that they can redirect – there is a life coach component to our residency – which acts in tandem with the actual investigation of the work itself.”
While searching for a new home for The Hosting, Klapischak met Stephen Woodcock and discovered he owned a renovated warehouse on West Cross Street in Ypsilanti. She visited the space and immediately knew it had potential.
Klapischak and Woodcock became partners and moved The Hosting to 302 W. Cross Street. The Hosting officially became a non-profit organization in March 2019.
Greaves says he felt a significant change once he began working in the new space in Ypsi.
“The two months I spent working there were the most focused and prolific I have ever experienced,” Greaves says. “It showed me the importance of having a dedicated workplace for art, a place that I could show up to with intention, leave everything unnecessary at the door, and pick up exactly where I had left off.”
Greaves completed his residency with a solo show on June 1, 2019, “Returning to Life.”
As The Hosting prepares to open a formal application process for its art residency program to the public, Klapischak says she feels lucky to be based in Ypsilanti among other creative hubs, such as Riverside Arts Center and 22 North.
“Ypsilanti is a perfect place for The Hosting,” Klapischak says. “It’s so welcoming, inherently diverse, and is built of some incredibly unafraid people. I love being there.”
Klapischak says there are still details to be worked out about what the official residency will look like, but she looks forward to seeing it all come together. The Hosting’s second resident will begin their residency this September. Along with art residency, The Hosting will also continue to function as an art gallery.
“We’re in an exciting time,” Klapischak says. “We want to make a presence in Ypsi full of intention and integrity. We are committed to making these residencies accessible, and we’re really excited about creating connections with artists working tirelessly all over the country.”