As an artistic incubator, Aunt Karen's Farm provides a flexible and safe environment for exploring various artistic projects, particularly in writing, choreography, and performing arts. Below are examples of how artists have used their residencies.
Artists with Families Working in the arts presents unique challenges and rewards for artist families. Drawing on the many cultural and ecological resources of Cooperstown and the surrounding Central New York region, Aunt Karen’s Farm is committed to providing residencies for the whole family with conversation, family activities, shared meals, and quiet time for contemplation, creating support and enrichment within a network of similar art professionals.
In March 2017, local actors Danielle and Michael Henrici, with their 18 month old son Dashiell, joined the conversation of building family-friendly opportunities for artists at Aunt Karen's Farm. Danielle is the Director of Education at the New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown, NY.
Writers & Storytellers Participants in the 2016 Spring Writers' Residency share their experiences at Aunt Karen's Farm:
"Spending the weekend at the Farm, whether walking down the road and quietly thinking, or making meals together with fifteen other storytellers, gave us at the great opportunity to let ideas bubble up, tumble over each other, and finally become real action which has resulted in a new show On the Road with Orpheus which we performed in June at the Grapevine in Washington, DC." – Gerald Fierst (Gerald has since published the children's bookImagine the Moonin 2017)
"Our group of storytellers and writers found Karen’s Farm to be highly congenial to our process of improvisation and discovery. The rural setting provides space for both solitude and sustained interaction. Housing is comfortable, neither lavish nor Spartan–a perfect place for creative energies to be unleashed and for buttermilk pancakes to be consumed." – Luray Gross
Theater The Drilling Company rehearsed at Aunt Karen’s farm in spring 2016 to prepare for their summer productions in New York City's Bryant Park.
Composers Performance duo Robinson & Rohe completed a music composition residency in fall 2015, then released their latest album Hunger in summer 2017.
"We had a productive and restful time at Aunt Karen's Farm in fall 2015. It is such a gift for us city dwellers to have the time and space to hash out new song ideas and develop repertoire in the company of trees, deer, and migrating birds, not to mention Karen and the other artists in residence, with whom we broke bread and shared work." – Robinson & Rohe
Open House Weekend Artists from an array of backgrounds and disciplines gathered in spring 2016 to enjoy the Farm's peaceful, no-pressure surroundings, and share their work with each other. Part of the weekend included a site visit at SUNY Cobleskill, where our artists had the wonderful opportunity to explore the nexus of art and ecology, and ruminate on why the word "culture" is embedded in “agriculture.”
Multimedia In 2013, Aunt Karen’s Farm was featured in an independent film directed by Justin Lerner’s production company for THE AUTOMATIC HATE (watch film trailer). Upon the film's release in 2015, it was met with critical success. Variety called it an "arresting, skillfully directed seriocomedy." The Farm served not only as a backdrop for many of the scenes, but members of the crew lived on-site in the guest houses during the filming.
“It was SO WONDERFUL shooting on your farm and a month and a half I will not soon forget. I'm still dreaming of waking up at Harmony House, having a coffee on the deck and taking a walk through those woods... just amazing. I can't wait to see you guys again soon.” – Justin Lerner
Playwrights In collaboration with Shenandoah International Playwrights, Aunt Karen launched a Playwrights Program in 2009. Sarah Standing was our first playwright. She came to the farm for two separate sessions to develop her first play, which in 2013 was produced in workshop, directed by dramaturge Robert Graham Small and performed by a group of area and NYC actors. Aunt Karen looks forward to hosting additional playwrights in residence at the farm and further collaborations with noted directors.
Environment Planning has been initiated for an exciting pollinator garden at the farm. Consisting of native plants, this garden will attract, feed, and be nourished by a variety of birds, bees, butterflies, and a host of other pollinators. Signage, walking trails, and seating area are envisioned.
This is a project of the non-profit Aunt Karen’s Farm which welcomes donations to further its work.
Photography In the spring of 2014, Daniel De Raey became the Farm’s first photographer-artist-in-residence.
“It was special . . . a project started with a picture of a coffee cup. It is evolving into a stained glass panel made of photo transfers on acrylic gel. I really like the way the photo transfers work with candlelight. Another photo was taken in an antiques store near the Farm of a clown doll in an antique baby stroller. I'm fond of photos that look as if they were painted. It also started my interest in backlighting, mixed media and stained glass. A third project started with an old house down the road and evolved into a study for a collage. Boy was this terrific! What it did for the work...what it did for my head...just spectacular!” – Daniel De Raey
What the artists are saying
"I have known Karen since the early 1970s -- she is an accomplished colleague who is respected throughout the arts and cultural fields. Aunt Karen's Farm is a bucolic environment, structured to serve individuals and groups who seek the time to examine issues and topics within a peaceful and supportive structure. This unique resource is situated in the beautiful countryside of upstate New York, and is filled with comfortable amenities. The Farm is overseen by Karen and her staff who are generous and sensitive hosts, always keenly aware of an individual's need for solitude and a group's needs for participatory action." – Joseph V. Melillo, Executive Producer at Brooklyn Academy of Music
"Aunt Karen’s Farm provided all the right elements for our group to get our creative juices flowing, and a new and innovative collaborative project was incubated there! Karen is a warm, engaging, delightful conversationalist and she put us all at ease. The location provided opportunities to satisfy our changing needs and moods: a solitary walk around the property, a social trip to the farmer’s market in Cooperstown, a large airy common room with space enough to move, shout, sing and create, and space enough in the houses for each of us to have our own room, allowing for journaling and reflection before bed. I eagerly await the chance for a return visit!" – Bill Wood, storyteller