Art Island Residency - Naoshima Artist-in-Residence Program


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The Art Island Residency is a community-focused artist-in-residence program based on Naoshima in Japan. Organized by the Art Island Center, the program facilitates inter-regional and cross-cultural exchange, providing artists with space and time to make art alongside and in collaboration with the Naoshima community.


Naoshima, an island in the Seto Inland Sea regularly referred to as “the art island,” is a major tourist destination due to its high concentration of art museums and installations. However, opportunities for island residents to engage with art (and artists) outside of the tourist-focused museum context are very limited. The Art Island Center created the Art Island Residency program as one means of bridging this divide.

Artists-in-residence immerse themselves in Naoshima’s diverse environments, including close-knit villages, coastal and forest scenery, zones of heavy industry and commercial fishing, and world-class contemporary art and architecture. Artists have access to various indoor and outdoor spaces and venues for art-making, performances, workshops, and exhibitions, based on their particular needs. The Art Island Center and its community partners will provide ample opportunities for the artist to connect with community individuals and groups throughout the residency period.

Unlike other residency programs that ask artists to hold a single exhibition or teach one workshop, the Art Island Residency specifically seeks out artists who intend to make social engagement a regular part of their work on Naoshima. Artists are offered wide latitude to interpret that emphasis when making their proposals.



The Art Island Residency has two objectives:

1. To provide the Naoshima community with opportunities for meaningful, long-term engagement with visiting artists from other regions and other nations.

2. To provide emerging artists from Japan and abroad an opportunity to make artwork in and engage with the Naoshima community over an extended period of time.


Program Overview

Along with its community partners, Art Island Center offers resident artists studio space, housing, venues for exhibitions and/or performances, and tailored opportunities to connect with, collaborate with, and learn from Naoshima community members. To serve the Naoshima community, Art Island Center arranges public workshops, classes, exhibitions, and performances featuring resident artists. Occasional Art Island Center programs including lectures by visiting artists and scholars, community exhibitions and discussions, and other events will benefit both groups.

Program Details

The Art Island Residency requires participating artists to work independently and have a clear sense of both the high-level goals and the day-to-day logistics of their proposed projects. The ideal project balances the independent process of the artist with periodic invitations for Naoshima locals to engage creatively. Artists are welcome to propose projects that include children, the elderly, a range of community members, etc.

Artists-in-residence live on Naoshima for a period of 30 to 90 days. International artists in particular are encouraged to stay for a longer period, to allow more time to adjust to life in Japan and build connections with locals.

Artists are provided with work space for their projects based on their needs and space availability. The nature of this space may vary widely, according to the content of their proposals, their artistic medium, the ways they expect to engage with the community, and the types of community members they hope to reach.

Visual artists using any medium/media are encouraged to apply, with the understanding that studio facilities on Naoshima will be very basic. Specialty studio equipment is generally not available. Artists who are adept at using what is at hand, or who can bring necessary tools and materials, are particularly suited to the program. A range of non-specialty tools and equipment is available for artists to borrow, and hardware and art supply stores are conveniently located in nearby cities. Special arrangements may be possible but must be coordinated ahead of time.

For performance and video artists, there are two venues on Naoshima with theater stages and seating, as well as various other indoor and outdoor venues. Lighting and audio/video capabilities vary and any special requirements must be arranged in advance.


The Art Island Residency is for emerging artists, which is broadly defined as being between undergraduate student-level and mid-career. The program is intended as a platform for growth for the artist, but the artist must also be a confident leader with significant experience in their medium or media.

The core program is conducted in Japanese and English, and applicants must have conversational proficiency in either language or both. Applicants should expect the Naoshima community to speak only Japanese and plan their projects accordingly; limited interpretation services will be available for periodic workshops or other events, but not daily.

Families are welcome to accompany artists, with certain limitations. Please inquire about your specific situation ahead of time.

The Art Island Residency program is first and foremost an opportunity for Naoshima locals to connect with the widest possible spectrum of artists and perspectives. Artists from marginalized or disadvantaged communities are especially welcome to submit proposals.

Artists coming from abroad must be able to obtain a tourist visa that covers their intended period of stay, or be from a country with a visa waiver agreement with Japan. Limits on tourist visa durations and visa waiver periods vary; it is the responsibility of the artist to research this information. Art Island Center does not sponsor visas.



The Art Island Residency is currently in the planning phase and not receiving applications. Please subscribe to the Art Island Notebook to receive updates. You can also use the Contact section of this website if you have questions.

Interested artists should fill out the application questionnaire, and submit it along with their recent CV/resume, portfolio, and proposal for their work on Naoshima. The greatest weight is given to the proposal. Details about what we are looking for in a proposal will be published soon.