BOFFO RESIDENCY FIRE ISLAND is an annual summer artist residency program. It was created to nurture the creative spirit of artists and enrich the Fire Island Pines community while adding new and diverse perspectives to its cultural heritage. Each summer, artists are invited to stay for one to four-week residencies to create a body of work that engages with and reflects upon the community and LGBTQ culture. At the end of each residency, the artist is invited to share their work through an exhibition, installation, performance, reading, screening, or other forms of engagement. Additionally, artists co-curate public programs that further engage the community. Since 2012, the BOFFO Residency has supported over 90 artists and enriched Fire Island with hundreds of free artistic events and programs.
BOFFO’s Fire Island work is rooted in the international practice of Creative Placemaking: the power of arts, culture, and creativity to serve a community’s interest while driving a broader agenda for progress and growth in a way that also builds character and quality of place.
BOFFO Residency Fire Island does not accept unsolicited proposals or applications. The selection committee is comprised of past artist residents and BOFFO staff. Together they nominate, review, and select artists for each year’s program. A small group of nominated artists are invited to submit proposals for their residency, outlining their proposed scope of work. The selection committee reviews these proposals and then makes the final decision.
While in residence, each artist is asked to curate free, open public programs which engage the broader community. At the start of their respective residencies, artists participate in Monday Talks, an opportunity for the artist to introduce themself, their creative practice, and provide context into their body of work. The artists also curate weekly film screenings for Thursday Films, and invite guest DJs to the island for Sunday Sounds, which takes place every Sunday on the beach. At the end of the residency, the artist presents what they had been developing during their BOFFO Residency Fire Island. Resident artists are asked to consider projects that are installed in public space, involve community participation, or are presented to the community with a public event. Additionally, BOFFO invites visiting curators and press for studio visits.
The BOFFO Residency Fire Island was founded in 2012 after a Pines homeowner, familiar with BOFFO’s work in NYC, offered his space for the BOFFO and the arts. Prior to the residency, Co-Founder Faris Al-Shathir had spent multiple summers on Fire Island, where he envisioned bringing arts programming to the Pines. Despite its incredible sense of community and LBGTQ history, the Fire Island Pines lacked a sophisticated, organized vision and support for a contemporary visual arts and cultural community to exist and thrive. Additionally, Al-Shathir felt that despite being only 60 miles from New York City, NYC’s LBGTQ BIPOC art and cultural community did not have exposure to the island. This led to the BOFFO Residency Fire Island, a community-engaged artist residency program that would nurture artists and build upon the cultural history of the island.
Fire Island is a 30-mile-long barrier island off the coast of Long Island in New York. It is a designated National Seashore and one of the 423 National Parks in the United States. The Fire Island Pines is one of 17 communities on Fire Island and is known for being car-free, with wooden boardwalks connecting the community. The Fire Island Pines and Cherry Grove communities are the only LGBTQ communities in the world, with over 90% of the residents and visitors identifying as members of the LGBTQ community. The Pines alone receives over 100,000 visitors every season. This community fosters a uniquely inclusive environment that cannot be experienced anywhere else in the world. Over the past century, renowned LGBTQ artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Frank O’Hara, Truman Capote, Andy Warhol, Oscar Wilde, W.H. Auden, Peter Hujgar, and many others have spent summers on Fire Island building community, creating work, and collaborating.
BOFFO fosters an entire ecosystem of the arts, including artists, collectors, gallerists, curators, museum professionals, writers, patrons, press, and other creative professionals. Many of BOFFO’s past Fire Island residents return to the island in subsequent summers after their residencies, helping to build a flourishing creative community. Many creative individuals are now spending continued time together on the island, creating relationships through an intimacy unique to Fire Island.
With this program’s continued support and success, we aspire to provide improved studio space and resources for the artists, find new ways of sharing and developing the work created while in residency, and galvanize new systems of sustained support at the individual and community level. As BOFFO grows we hope to hold even more public programs, and eventually build a center for the arts in the Fire Island Pines.