Cross-pollination is defined as the influence or inspiration between diverse elements.
Swim Pony’s Cross Pollination residency program is an attempt to apply this idea to the vibrant and talented arts communities across the Philadelphia landscape. As a company, Swim Pony’s greatest moments of growth have been the result of melding our work with another’s medium. Creating across disciplines can be transformative, allowing creators to question assumptions about their artistic product and process in ways that working with one’s immediate peers may not. In short, cross-collaborative efforts help art forms evolve and grow. Rarely, however, are there structured experiences in which this can occur. So, (thanks to our awesome funders!) Swim Pony wants to engage a host of artists in such an opportunity.
What happens when a visual artist is asked to see their work not simply as a static object, but in relation to a time-based piece of music and narrative? What if a fiction writer tries to create a story that must be staged and danced for full effect? In short, what are the results when three creators from totally different backgrounds get in a room that encourages playful exploration into new realms?
That’s what this project aims to find out.
Cross Pollination is about engaging artists in an examination about their working process. There’s no required outcome. There’s no pre-defined structure. It’s a chance to encounter the unknown, stretch artistic boundaries, and work in a way we’ve never imagined.
How do we do it and who’s involved?
Cross Pollination residencies look like a triangle with a frame.
Swim Pony Artistic Director Adrienne Mackey meets with two other artists exploring the unique conversations and
perspectives that these creators bring to the table. This trio in artistic crime spends several weeks discussing projects that will make use of their skills, challenge them to think in new ways, or dive into shared interests as a collaborative ensemble. Once a project is selected the group spends a week exploring that central idea or question together.
Since the second year of the project, alongside this exploration is the ever-present Swim Pony artistic associate Sam Wend who helps facilitate the project and documents every detail of the work these creators undertake. At the end of the residency, she also documents the experience on Swim Pony’s website in conjunction with events for the community where the artists offer their discoveries to the general public.
We also make sure you get to see our process through the amazing photographs of Adachi Pimentel, who drops in throughout the week’s process and creates the beautiful solo portraits of our artists you see along with their bios. Adachi has literally crossed hill and dale to find us in every corner of the city.
The aim is to create a space where the three artists – Adrienne and the two invited newcomers – undertake research that is recorded and shared for the rest of the world. The outcomes aren’t prescribed and that’s the way we like it. To court the unknown, we want to stay open to allowing our discoveries to flourish in whatever way makes most sense. Some of our explorations go on into further project development with Swim Pony, some influence the work of the creators involved beyond our company’s scope, and some projects contribute to the general body of creative inquiry and dialogue that we hope to promote.