Deadline: 11/02/2018

Natural Pigments Instructional Residency (Fiber Dyeing). All Sessions in 2018. Arquetopia Cusco, Peru

With master instruction, learn to make traditional Natural Dyes in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

With master instruction, learn to create traditional Natural Pigments in the Sacred Valley of the Incas of Cusco, Peru. Extendable 3-week sessions during 2018.

APPLY NOW: Fee reduction possible. Spaces are limited. Our selection committee evaluates all residency applications when they are received vs. after the deadline has passed.

Color is imbued with symbolism and meaning, it has currency, both emotional and monetary. Both in Mexico and Peru, color is also associated with political power, and it has a complex history that is often intertwined with slavery and exploitation, trade, piracy and therefore also war and international politics. The historical documentation of the use of color and its intricate means of production indicates its elevated value in Mesoamerica and the Andes. After the Spanish Conquest, it became one of the foundations of the Spanish wealth coming from the New World. Cochineal (a small domesticated insect that produces one of the world’s most vibrant red dye) for instance was such an important product for international trade that it would reach not only European markets, but also the Near East, Africa and China; and añil (indigo) dye became a commercial force intertwined with the enslavement and transatlantic trade of many people throughout the 17th century, as Europeans decided to obtaining and exploit the qualities of this deep blue dye.

Dyeing is a difficult process at best, somewhere between cooking and chemistry but perhaps closer to alchemy. Although historically, color experimentation began with plants and minerals, a bright red found in nature might not necessarily produce a bright red dye; it might produce a yellow or brown one. And to make the processes more complex, one process of dyeing might produce one set of color while another process will produce a different color, for instance through the use of different mordents. Therefore, sources for the dyes as well as established recipes, have been jealously guarded buy communities, guilds, and individual dyers alike. To make it even more difficult, the practice of natural dyeing has been heavily displaced by the introduction of industrial and synthetic dyes.

The Natural Pigments Instructional Artist Residency is a production residency that includes 3 weeks of master instruction (27 hours total; 9 hours per week) in diverse techniques from Cusco, Peru, which vary depending on the supporting fiber; the options are wool and cotton. Residents learn preparations and traditional recipes to prepare and use natural dyes, mordents, and fixatives.

The program includes hands-on instruction with cochineal (ranging from red to purple), añil (blue),and pericon (yellow) from Mexico, Tara and blue collpa (blue), and Q’olle flowers (yellow) from Peru, as well as a few tree barks and fruit skins to complete the color spectrum. This residency is a comprehensive program to learn the natural dyes tradition with specific ingredients corresponding to Cusco including resources for a better understanding of the complex culture of Peru and the history of its colors.

Our Artist-in-Residence Programs offer competitive professional opportunities for emerging and mid-career, national and international artists, designers, curators, art historians, art educators, journalists, writers, and cultural researchers age 22 and over. Our programs are based on a non-exploitative model promoting social consciousness. Residents are strongly encouraged to explore various ways of cultural exchange as part of their artistic and/or research goals and to actively engage in critical discussions as part of their residency experience. Understanding Peru’s context and cultural complexity is key for a successful cultural exchange. We welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds and disciplines who are interested in creating work or inspired by art, elements, techniques or processes specific to Peru.

Arquetopia is distinguished worldwide for its array of unique residency programs with substantial content. In contrast to various property rental schemes, tourist resorts, B&B’s, and sublets elsewhere, our residency spaces function exclusively for productive art professionals, writers, and researchers and include structured, informative programs; a network of collaborative workspaces, institutions, and studios; and individualized project support.


  • Selection decisions are based on artistic work and proposed project. Candidates at all stages of their careers (emerging and established) must demonstrate a clear sense of potential.
  • Our pool of applicants and residents is diverse in all aspects.
  • Our residency programs are competitive opportunities for artists and researchers to pursue their own work, free of pressure (especially work that in their particular circumstances would normally be difficult to produce).
  • Selection priority is given to projects that explore a responsible connection between the applicant’s artistic practice and the cultural context of Peru. The connection can be as broad as an artistic technique or as specific as a local theme
  • The creation of community with fellow residents and staff during the residency period is important.

Founded in 2009, Arquetopia is an internationally established, award-winning nonprofit arts and cultural foundation with a social scope that emphasizes critical thinking through artistic practices. Our Artist-in-Residence Programs are the largest and most reputable in Mexico and Latin America, with an array of contents anchored in a solid structure of collaborations with prominent cultural institutions, renowned experts, and notable artists.

We are invested in approaching art and art history with a critical perspective by understanding Peru’s complexity in context and incorporating nuances in narratives and interpretation especially of its 3,000-year heritage of visual culture. Since its founding, Arquetopia has raised the bar in the residency field, becoming a reference to every residency program in Mexico and Latin America and influencing most of them in approaching artmaking with more rigorous practices, critical perspectives, and high standards.

Our new residency space is environmentally conscious, continuing our commitment to sustainability and nature. Like our other two residency spaces, Arquetopia Cusco incorporates a deeper comprehension of how art and the surrounding ecosystems, as well as the complex cultural heritage, is rooted in the sense of community. Arquetopia’s residency spaces continue to be open for dialogue, exchanges, and encounters while emphasizing our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint, reusing materials, and recycling waste.

Our Peruvian-style villa hosts up to four artists at a time, with sweeping mountain and views of the town from the artist rooms. In this countryside space, the intersection of art, history, culture, and nature set the tone for reflection, research and production. Conveniently located between Cusco and Urubamba, the space is very close to our local artists/instructors and partnered institutions. We welcome artists who are interested in developing projects with non-toxic techniques and seeking a deeper connection with the community, the historical context, and the environment. Artists are also encouraged to participate in diverse activities such as field trips, cycling, and hiking as well as helping to maintain our organic garden.

Our residents enjoy a safe and peaceful environment, as well as the mild weather that the Sacred Valley of the Incas provides, with the stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The residency center is conveniently located in the countryside village of Huaran-Sillacancha, outside of the touristy areas, and only 50 minutes away from the center of the city of Cusco on the south side. To the north, it is only 20 minutes away from the city of Urubamba, and 30 minutes away from the Ollantaytambo train station that serves the renowned archeological site of Machu Picchu. Cheap, everyday public transportation is also available from the residency vicinity in different directions and to various destinations.

The city of Cusco is accessible via two international airports in Cusco (CUZ) and Lima (LIM). Cusco was classified in 1972 as Cultural Heritage of the Peruvian Nation and declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Located in the heart of the Central Peruvian Andes of South America at 3,400 m (11,155 ft) above sea level, the Cusco region extends into a fertile alluvial valley of approximately 20 km (12 mi), called the Sacred Valley of the Incas, an incomparable scenic and historical major destination. The City of Cusco was remodeled and redesigned in the 15th century after a pre-Inca occupation process of over 3,000 years, under the Tawantinsuyu Inca Empire. After the conquest of the Spaniards in the 16th century when the city was destroyed, the basic structure of buildings were used to construct Baroque churches and palaces over the ruins of the Inca city, such as the Temple of the Sun (Qoricancha), the Aqllahuasi, the Sunturcancha, the Kusicancha and a series of very finely finished buildings that shaped the Inca compounds. As a result a local baroque style was developed creating a unique and high quality mixed configuration of architecture and art representing the initial juxtaposition and fusion of different periods and cultures, as well as the city’s historic continuity.

A New York Times article in 2017 named Cusco as “Breathtaking (in More Ways than One).” Cusco is included in the World’s Best Cities in 2016 list by Travel+Leisure.


Technique Instruction:

  • 27 hours master instruction (9 hours per week)

Staff Support:

  • Each resident meets weekly with our staff for individualized research assistance/resources, project guidance, and critiques
  • Our residencies are process-based; residents are not expected to give talks, exhibitions, or workshops

Accommodation and Meals:

  • Furnished, private bedroom
  • Meals and 24-hour access to the kitchen and dining room
  • Wireless Internet
  • Shared bathrooms with modern fixtures and showers
  • Housekeeping

Studio Workspace and Materials:

  • 24-hour access to large, shared studio with generous natural light
  • Personal workspace with large table
  • Materials and supplies for the instructional course provided
  • Materials and supplies for additional project production not included but available for purchase locally

Term Length: 3 weeks during 2018, with option to extend for 1 to 9 more weeks as a self-directed Art Production Residency. Applicants nominate their own range of dates.

Fee: USD $835 per week. Optional Art Production Residency extension USD $695 per week.

Payment Deadlines: Deposit of 20% of Residency Fee due within 1 week of selection. Balance due by 90 days prior to residency start date. Fee reduction possible; e-mail us.

E-mail Chris at

Visit the Arquetopia website at
Complete and submit the Arquetopia Artist-in-Residence Online Application Form, following the instructions on the web page.

Following selection, applicants are notified immediately via e-mail.

Arquetopia is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our diverse local and international community. Arquetopia’s resident artist and staff backgrounds vary in all aspects. As part of Arquetopia’s mission is to promote diversity, Arquetopia actively fights discrimination by offering access to its programs and activities without regard to race, color, gender or gender expression, national origin, age, religion, creed, or sexual orientation.

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Natural Pigments Instructional Residency (Fiber Dyeing). All Sessions in 2018. Arquetopia Cusco, Peru

Natural Pigments Instructional Residency (Fiber Dyeing). All Sessions in 2018. Arquetopia Cusco, Peru


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