Visual Arts Thematic Residency - Get LIT! Language, Image, Text

Visual Arts | In Person

Program Information

the lowest bar, Whess Harman, 2021

the lowest bar, Whess Harman, 2021


Led by faculty Joi T. Arcand, Whess Harman, August Klintberg, and Michael Turner, Visual Arts Thematic Residency – Get LIT! Language, Image, Text invites visual artists working in all mediums to explore language, image, words, and text through self-directed studio practice and research-creation.

From the illuminated manuscripts of the Book of Kells to traditional Chinese art that combines poetry, calligraphy, and painting, words and language have existed in visual art for millennia as a way to construct meaning beyond, and in conjunction with, pictorial representation.

In René Magritte’s early conceptual painting of 1929, The Treachery of Images, a picture of a pipe sits above the sentence, Ceci n’est pas un pipe, calling into question the relationship, veracity, and slippage of meaning between text and image, representation and reality. In his manifesto of the same year, Les Mots et Les Images, he writes: “A word can replace an image in reality…in a picture, words have the same substances as images”.

Throughout the 20th century, the avant-garde embraced text and used it to reject mysticism, to revel in materiality, to revolt, to access the subconscious, to reflect society and the world around us, and to challenge the very notion of art itself.

In recent decades, words in art have been used by artists such as On Kawara, Yoko Ono, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Martin Creed, Tracey Emin, Ed Ruscha, Bruce Nauman, and Ron Terada for social critique, political activism, personal narrative, and identity politics.

How are contemporary artists using words and language to disrupt, protest, fight, evoke, comment, critique, share, and communicate? Where do these conversations sit today?

Join us for a five-week residency in the mountains to delve into aspects of language in art.

What does the program offer?

This program offers a structured space where visual artists come together to create work and discuss the pertinent theme, as well as time and space to delve deeply into their practice while away from the constraints of everyday life. Through peer interaction, studio work, formal lectures, and studio visits from world-renowned visiting faculty, participants gain new ideas and insights that can be applied to creative exploration and professional development of their work.

Participants are provided with a studio, accessible 24 hours a day, as well as targeted access to our extensive facilities. Facility access is based on availability of facilitators, and priority access is given to those requesting their use in their initial application.

In addition, artists can build connections, create networks, and share their work with other artists-in-residence and the public.

Who should apply?

This residency is for visual artists at all stages of their careers who have completed formal education and/or training at the post-secondary level, or who have equivalent experience and recognition from their peers through informal, specialized training such as mentorships, self-study, and traditional knowledge and practices.

Banff Centre invites applications from anywhere in the world, and artists of all ages (18+), backgrounds, gender identities, and expressions.

Visual Arts Thematic Residency - Get LIT! Language, Image, Text  is generously supported by:

Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Outstanding Artist Program Endowment


What's Included

Single RoomRead MoreClose

Your program fee includes a single bedroom on the Banff Centre campus for the duration of your program.

Get connected with other artists on campus and focus on your projects in a creative environment while we take care of the day-to-day essentials.

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Full Flex Meal PlanRead MoreClose

Using a credit-based system to dine on campus, our flexible meal plans allow you to select meals according to your own needs during your stay. Banff Centre can accommodate most dietary requests. 

The Full Flex meal plan is calculated at $70 credit per day, equivalent to breakfast, lunch and dinner at our Buffet service.

Paul D. Fleck Library and ArchivesRead MoreClose

The Paul D. Fleck Library and Archives - Current Services

The Library is delighted to support Banff Centre Participants, Artists, and Faculty with the following services:

  • Open hours:  9:30 am to 1 pm, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
  • Access to collections, including program relevant books, scores, artists’ books, recordings, periodicals, and object library.
  • Library accounts for borrowing materials.
  • Digital Library, on campus and remote access.
  • Library research assistance, by appointment.
  • Archives research, by appointment only.

Please email or for more information or assistance.

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Gym MembershipRead MoreClose

Your program fee includes free access to the swimming pool, climbing gym and fitness suite as well as discounted rates for classes at the Sally Borden Fitness and Recreation Centre.

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Studios & FacilitiesRead MoreClose

Create in one of our specialized studios and utilize shared production facilities in printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, photography, digital media and more (subject to additional fees) Collaborative groups share studio space.


Lecture SeriesRead MoreClose

A series of outstanding guest artists and curators will give free public talks and hold informal discussions.

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Participant ResourcesRead MoreClose

Enrich your experience and get to know other artists on campus by taking advantage of the activities and support provided by our Participant Resources team.

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Showcase Your WorkRead MoreClose

This program offers opportunities to showcase your work-in-progress in an open studios event in Glyde Hall.

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Group Seminars/WorkshopsRead MoreClose

Join in group seminars/workshops.

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Box Office DiscountsRead MoreClose

Enjoy special artist rates for ticketed performances or complimentary access to events.

Fees & Financial Assistance

You pay (fee after scholarship applied)
$2 796.50
Total fee (Tuition, Accommodation and Meal Plan)
$9 231.25
Scholarship amount applied*
$6 434.75

Application fee: $65 for individuals or groups ($35 for applicants who identify as Indigenous).

Application Fees are non-refundable.

Individual group members must pay an additional registration fee of $35 on acceptance.

*Scholarship of 100% is available and will be applied to cover tuition, and 50% is available to offset meals and accommodation costs.

If you would like to be considered, please complete the Financial Aid section when uploading your supporting materials. 

Banff Centre will issue official tax receipts for eligible tuition fees and financial assistance and awards as required by the Income Tax Act. You will receive a T2202 (Tuition and Enrolment Certificate) for eligible tuition fees paid and a T4A (Statement of Pension, Retirement, Annuity, and Other Income) for applicable financial assistance and awards.

Help fund your experience at Banff Centre. View a compiled list of national and international opportunities here.

How to Apply

Learn more about the steps to Complete Your Application.


A one-page resume describing your academic, artistic, professional, and other relevant artistic experience.

Letter of Intent

A 500 word description of why you wish to attend this program, what you hope to learn or achieve and what impact it could have on your artistic practice. 

Detailed Project Proposal and Timeline

In 500 words, describe the conceptual framework of your proposed project, your weekly execution plan, details of the mediums you propose to use and your level of knowledge in the processes required, and outline any specific technical or support requirements.

Resource Request

Outline all studio, equipment, software, facility, or staff support requested in our upload tool. Final resource allocation is at the discretion of the department.



Provide 10 samples of your artistic work. Curators and researchers must submit three samples of written work. File sizes and specifications are available in our upload tool.

Additional Information

Collaborative groups of no more than two are welcome to apply

  • If you are applying as an individual, you must complete both the online application form (including $65 processing fee) and a SlideRoom application.
  • If you are applying as a collaborative duo, one artist must complete both the online application form (including $65 processing fee) and a SlideRoom application. Please submit only one SlideRoom application per collaborative duo. There will be a $35 registration fee of the second artist upon acceptance to the program. 


Participants are selected by impartial adjudicators based on their submitted material. In addition to artistic merit, consideration will be given to the likelihood that the artist's work and career will benefit from the program. Feasibility, scope, and the capacity of Banff Centre to help realize the project are also considered. Banff Centre’s values and strategic directions are reflected in program development and delivery.

Banff Centre respects the need for artists to plan ahead for their visit; applicants will be notified of their status as soon as adjudication is complete.

Priority will be given to applicants who have not attended a Visual Arts Program at Banff Centre within the last three years.

International Applicants

Banff Centre welcomes domestic and international applicants for this program. Please note, Banff Centre programs do not meet Canadian Student Visa eligibility requirements, you must obtain a Visitor Visa to enter Canada. Accepted individuals are responsible for identifying and complying with the immigration requirements to enter Canada as a visitor from their country of origin. Current wait times to receive a visa are much longer than normal, so applicants who require a Visitor Visa should check the current expected processing times prior to applying.


Applicants must be ages 18+ at the time of the program start date.

All programs, faculty, dates, fees, and offers of financial assistance are subject to change. Program fee is subject to applicable taxes. Non-refundable fees and deposits will be retained upon cancellation. Any other fees are refunded at the discretion of the Banff Centre. The application deadline is 11:59 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.

Contact Admissions

For questions on preparing your application, please contact Admissions:

Toll Free Number (Canada + USA)