Elsewhere Studios has announced that executive director Karen Good will retire from her position at the end of the year, to be succeeded by current program manager Carolina Porras.
Good moved to Paonia eight years ago to launch the residency program with her daughter, Willow Mannan and co-founder Maya Jensen. Under her leadership, Elsewhere has hosted more than 200 artists representing 28 states, 14 countries and myriad disciplines including writing, visual arts, ceramics, music composition, film and performance arts. By providing a fertile space for innovative and boundary-pushing artists, Good has helped Elsewhere establish a strong national and international reputation that has attracted funding from National Endowment for the Arts, Colorado Creative Industries and many private foundations.
Under Good's leadership, Elsewhere Studios has also made itself an integral part of the Paonia community. The program engages community members through bi-monthly artist events, workshops and classes taught by artist residents as well as a community garden and public art projects orchestrated in partnership with local schools and organizations.
This year, Good led the program into its first foray in socially engaged art with the INSPIRED: Art at Work project, a collaborative effort that brought together four artists to address environmental, cultural and socioeconomic issues in the North Fork Valley. The project culminated in a three-day symposium in August.
"I am excited about what we've accomplished at Elsewhere, from the caliber of the artists that have been attracted to the program and the impact of the program on their work, to the enrichment of the local community," says Good. "It's time for new energy and passion to lead the organization and take it new places. I'm thrilled about Carolina Porras stepping into the role of executive director; she brings great ideas and fresh vision for the future. I'm confident I'm leaving the organization in good hands."
For the past year, Porras has brought growth and vitality to Elsewhere's artist residency program, facilitating a highly original and diverse cohort of 34 artists. During her tenure as program manager, Porras has expanded Elsewhere's capacity through a partnership with Aeolian Acres, offering a more rural experience for up to three additional artist residents. She has built partnerships and attracted funding for themed residencies, including one tailored to artists with families. She has led several successful fundraisers and also established the Youth Media Internship in collaboration with the Paonia Experiential Leadership Academy.
As a former Elsewhere resident, Porras brings a special skill set to her new role as executive director. She has co-authored two books as part of a series titled Piney Wood Atlas, focused on small, off-the-beaten-path residencies much like Elsewhere.
Building on her already deep expertise, this year she was selected as an Alliance of Artists Communities Diversity and Leadership Fellow, a highly competitive program dedicated to training arts administrators of color or with disabilities. The year-long fellowship will provide leadership training, professional development opportunities and mentorship that Porras will channel into her new role as executive director.
"I'm really excited and honored to step into this role." Porras explains, "Elsewhere was a formative experience for me when I attended my residency. It offered a pivotal space that prompted necessary changes in my life and art practice. I want to continue to foster that experience for other creatives as well as continue to deepen Elsewhere's engagement with the local community."
With Porras at the helm, Elsewhere will maintain and expand its support for socially engaged art programming, especially where art meets agriculture and the environment, topics that are especially important to the Paonia community. In the works is a new accredited residency program with Texas Tech University set to launch next summer, and Elsewhere is discussing partnership opportunities with other academic institutions.
"We couldn't be more grateful to Karen for all she's done to make Elsewhere what it is today," said board chair Lauren Blair. "We wish her well in her retirement and are confident that Carolina's fresh perspective and experience will usher in a new chapter of growth, expanding Elsewhere's capacity to enrich the lives of both artist residents and local community members."