West Elm’s Artist in Residence Initiative supports BIPOC artists with a dedicated ceramics workspace inside the brand’s creative studios 

BROOKLYN, NY – February 24, 2022 – Today, global design company West Elm announces the launch of its Artist in Residence Initiative, a unique collaboration with New York City artist. West Elm’s residency invites BIPOC established and emerging artists without access to a traditional ceramics studio to explore the medium at our product design facility in Brooklyn.  

This program reinforces West Elm’s mission to strengthen local economies and boost burgeoning artists and designers, especially in underrepresented areas. "We’re a Brooklyn-based company, so artists are in our backyard,” says senior studio manager Gary Webb, who spearheaded the initiative. “It’s easy for them to get here and create new work.” 

In 2022, eight artists will each have 12 weeks to create new work at West Elm’s 750-square-foot ceramics studio. As part of the initiative, West Elm provides a ceramic technician to assist the artists in the process of running kilns, monitoring drying, and more.  

The program's first participant is Reverend Joyce McDonald, a multidisciplinary artist focused on sculpture and painting. Reverend McDonald is also a chaplain, advocate, activist, and 36-year AIDS survivor. After her diagnosis in 1985, she took up art therapy. This is where her love for sculpting began. “Once I touched the clay, it’s like something just came over me,” she says. “I started doing sculptures, and they unleashed the deepest-darkest secrets in my life.”  Reverend McDonald was ordained as a minister at the Church of the Open Door in 2009. She helps people find healing through her art, which reflects her life stories and her ministry work.  

West Elm hopes to foster career-building opportunities for all artists who enter the program. 

To learn more about Artist in Residence Initiative and Reverend Joyce McDonald’s work, visit www.westelm.com/pages/features/reverend-joyce-mcdonald/.