Ceramic sculpture artist Hilary Helfant hit the road late this summer, driving from Bridgehampton, New York to Trinidad to take up her new position as artist-in-residence at the Trinidad History Museum. Now ensconced in the museum’s living quarters, Helfant has three months to create art, thanks to winning a secret jury’s vote and a museum stipend to cover expenses.
“Hilary is a sculpture artist, our first 3-D artist and we’re really excited,” said Kirby Stokes, Director of the Trinidad History Museum. Helfant is the seventh artist chosen to participate in the program, and like the others before her, she’ll leave her mark in Trinidad. “All of the artists leave a piece for our permanent collection. All of our artists do a meet and greet, then they do a workshop and then they have a send off,” said Stokes.
Helfant, soft spoken and sporting an easy smile, says her goal is to try out different things while in southern Colorado. “So starting out small and I keep getting bigger and bigger so my goal is to do larger public art.” She was a painter and teacher for many years before moving into ceramic sculpture. “So when I went to take classes, they said well you can’t do that, I was just like well, I’m just going to do it anyway. I wanted to do something really three dimensional so I said what’s more three dimensional than something coming out from all the sides?”
The artist also plans to incorporate local influence into her work, such as using the dark red tones of the Trinidad bricks as well as the blues and greens she sees in the plains. And while she’s been to Colorado before, Helfant says it’s different in Trinidad. “I did a residency in December in Paonia, it’s so different though, you assume things, it’s completely different.
The A.R. Mitchell Museum of Western Art is also contributing to the artist-in-residence program by opening the doors to its ceramics studio and kiln where Helfant will be able to work and create. Kirby Stokes, the Trinidad Museum Director says members of the community can drop by anytime if they’d like to meet the artist, which could work out well for Helfant. “It’s different for me because most residencies I’ve done it’s been about all artists getting together, where this being just the individual artist, it sort of forces me to go out into the community, which is nice,” Helfant said.