Announcing a new artist residency in Ajo, Arizona, where history, culture and the spectacular Sonoran Desert will inspire and inform your practice.

In 2018 the Sonoran Desert Inn & Conference Center launched a new artist residency. This residency is open to emerging, mid-career and established artists, giving them the opportunity to step away from the day-to-day hustle and focus on a new or existing project in an inspiring setting. Ajo is a beautiful, quiet, little-known town in the heart of Arizona's Sonoran Desert, ideal for a period of creativity and experimentation, as well as exploration. Our community is full of artists of all kinds and embraces visiting artists from across the country and around the globe. 

For Spring 2019, there is no prescribed theme or medium. Artists will be accepted for month-long residencies, a shift from two-week residencies in 2018 - it turns out two weeks is too short! We are focusing on visual and performing artists, and preference is given to Native and Latinx individuals to highlight the historic (and historically underrepresented) populations of this region. That said, artists of all backgrounds and cultures are encouraged to apply. Click here to read about our selected artists, past and present!


Features of the Sonoran Arts Residency include:

photo by jason rogers

photo by jason rogers

Peaceful Living Space

Visiting artists are given a kitchenette room at the Sonoran Desert Inn for the duration of their stay.  Our rooms, all former elementary school classrooms, are comfortable, air conditioned, spacious, and full of light. The kitchenette, stocked with a coffeemaker (and locally roasted coffee), fridge, microwave, stove, pots, pans, and dishes, allows artists to easily prepare their own simple meals. 

All rooms are on the ground level and open onto a lovely central courtyard, the centerpiece of which is an urban farm managed by our partners, the Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture. ADA-friendly rooms are available.

While other guests will be staying at the inn during the residency, we intentionally host artists-in-residence during our quiet months. Expect javelinas, bright night skies, and conversations with locals and travelers. Don't expect a courtyard full of people or a packed roster of events.

Photo by maxwell gay

Photo by maxwell gay

Focused Work Space

Visiting artists will also be provided, at no cost, a large, air conditioned classroom as their studio space. Classrooms are approximately 800 square feet and have five 8-foot windows, letting in lots of natural light. They are equipped with an artist sink; hi-speed WiFi; cabinets, closets and shelving for storage of supplies; and tables and chairs (which can be removed if not needed).  Studios are ADA-friendly, with ADA-accessible restrooms nearby.

We have rehearsal and performance space available, as well as outdoor work spaces for artists wishing to work en plein air.

While we welcome visual and performing artists working in any medium to apply, there are some limitations to the work space and available equipment. See application for details.


photo by jewel clearwater fraser

photo by jewel clearwater fraser

 Community Engagement

The Sonoran Arts Residency is unique in that it provides time and space to explore Ajo and the surrounding region, and get to know the locals and fellow artists. It isn’t strictly a retreat-style residency, where you will work in isolation for days at a time - although by expanding it from 2 weeks in Fall 2018/Winter 2019 to 4 weeks in Spring 2019, visiting artists should be able to balance focused work time and community exploration.

We envision the residency as a chance for artists-in-residence to contribute to the growing arts community in Ajo, so will ask each visiting artist to participate in community activities to showcase their work. This generally takes shape as a pop-up show in a local gallery near the end of your residency, and open studio times throughout.

We also see value in inviting the Ajo community to contribute to the quality of each visiting artist's experience. To this end, we have curated a collection of "community perks" for each artist like use of a private saltwater pool, access to a bicycle and a golf cart to explore town, free yoga classes, locally-grown and produced treats, and invitations to suppers hosted by Ajo artists and residents.

The deadline for May 2019 and January 2020 residencies has passed. Click here for information on the selected artists!

Even though the current deadline has passed, if you’re interested in learning more about the Sonoran Arts Residency, please read this overview and FAQ, then click here to access the application.

TIMELINE - May 2019 Residencies

Application Available: December 20, 2019
Application Deadline: February 1, 2019
Notification of Selection: by March 10, 2019
Residency Dates: May 4-June 1, 2019; January 2-30, 2019 (January dates added based on strengths of May applicants!)

Please email questions to