"We live at an unusual moment, when queer and trans sensibilities are flourishing in a way I have not seen since the ‘70s. It's important to seize this moment and create opportunities that give safe and nourishing space to this phenomenon, to counteract the environment of distrust and even persecution that remains our everyday lot, despite our many advances. FIAR does this in spades." — AA Bronson
In the summer of 2011, co-founders Chris Bogia and Evan J. Garza organized the inaugural summer program of the Fire Island Artist Residency (FIAR) with support from The Long Island GLBT Services Network, the Knapp-Swezey Foundation, Visual AIDS, and the generosity of Percy Steinhart, Paul Underwood, Rod Sayegh, and individual donors. FIAR was founded to provide free live/work space for practicing and emerging queer contemporary artists while immersed in the decades-old GLBT community of Fire Island.
Selections for FIAR’s first artists-in-residence were made by renowned contemporary artist and General Idea co-founder AA Bronson and Director of the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Bill Arning. FIAR’s inaugural 2011 residents, Travis Boyer, Ryan Brewer, Elijah Burgher, A.K. Burns, and Katherine Hubbard, converted a modest beach house into a makeshift live/work space (a house named Hard Times, which came to be known as the FIAR House) for a period of two weeks. They worked, relaxed, and immersed themselves in the Fire Island community, during which time they were visited by, and did studio visits with, a handful of prestigious and renowned visiting artists, including Nayland Blake, Lyle Ashton Harris, Marlene McCarty, and AA Bronson.
Visiting artists gave lectures on their work, engaged in salons with artists-in-residence over communal house dinners, often with interested locals, and provided feedback to residents on their work and art-making practices. “HERE WE ARE,” an open house and reception sponsored by Visual AIDS, introduced the work of the 2011 artists-in-residence to the Fire Island and New York art communities at large. The inaugural season ended with a reception at the home of Percy Steinhart.