The Residency

Cayo Artist Residency takes place in the heart of Eleuthera Island.  Eleuthera derives its name from the Greek adjective ἐλεύθερος (eleutheros), meaning "free." It is a unique and precious island that was revered and cherished by the indigenous Lucayan people.

On one side lies the tranquil Caribbean; on the other side lies the churning sapphire waters of the Atlantic Ocean. These two bodies of water are separated by only a thin ribbon of rock, plants, and sand. The island’s uniqueness warrants a need to study, preserve, and protect the precious ecology of not just the island, but also its surrounding waters and the creatures within them. It is our hope that our residencies will empower both locals and visitors to carry the message of conservation, awareness and reverence around the globe.

Each of the two 10-day residencies hosts four Art Explorers. In addition, we select one Artist in Residence to participate and make his/her work for the full three weeks. Cayo takes place in the summertime at a peaceful villa within walking distance from the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.



Cayo hosts two separate groups of Art Explorers (ten day sessions). The Explorers are asked to use their time at the residency is to explore, converse, collaborate, research, and deepen their appreciation of the natural world. Applicants must write a letter of intention that outlines the proposed project or area of focus/ exploration while at the residency. Applicants should demonstrate artistic merit through ideas, conception and materials. Established and emerging artists welcome. Graduate students who use this residency as part of their MFA educational pursuit are encouraged to apply.

Artwork is encouraged, but not required, to be generated while at the residency.



Cayo accepts only one Artist-in-Residence per summer, staying for both groups of Explorers. The AIR works on their own project and research while at the residency. They are also expected to provide feedback and guidance to each group of art explorers. AIRs present an artist talk and lead a workshop or discussion. Participation in field trips is encouraged but not required.

AIR applicants are invited by the Cayo committee to apply.  Submission includes letter of intention, demonstration of artistic merit, and proposed workshop/project. Established and mid-career artists welcome. Work is expected to be generated during the residency, and documentation of finished work is required within the following year.

Along with a discounted rate for food, the AIR receives free transportation on the island, excursions, lodging (private bedroom and bathroom), and private workspace.



As part of the residency experience, we provide workshops that encourage critical thinking, ecological awareness, specimen collection and material exploration. Talks will cover topics such as plastic pollution, conservation, climate change, protecting the biome, and the power of BioArt. Attendees will be provided suggested readings before the residency begins.

Each Art Explorer will receive one-on-one feedback with our Artist in Residence, as well as have access to both our Scientific and Artistic Advisors.  This feedback is aimed at deepening research and providing support for each artist’s area of interest.

Field trips include the Leon Levy Nature Preserve, the Cape Eleuthera Institute, Sweetings Pond (seahorses!) and more.


Residency Fees & Accommodations

The Residency Fee (ART EXPLORERS) for 10 days is $2,200 USD. This fee includes transportation during the residency, lodging, meals and snacks, and entrance fees to parks and institutions. Accommodations for each Art Explorer will include a single bed (two beds per room) and shared bathroom.

The Residency Fee (AIR) for 20 days will be discussed with the AIR upon their acceptance. AIR’s are not public applications, and are asked to apply by invite only. The AIR has a private live/work space (separate entrance) and will pay a lower residency fee in exchange for leading workshops and providing mentorship.

The residency fees for all participants do not include the following: flights to and from Eleuthera, appropriate travel documents, personal travel/health insurance, and personal spending money.

All participants must be confident swimmers and in good physical condition, as there is a lot of hiking and walking.  All artists are responsible for bringing their own supplies to the residency.


About the Island

Eleuthera is a quiet island with a welcoming, slower pace. It is full of kind people, birds, insects, and aquatic animals. Provisions are limited, power can fluctuate due to storms and wind, and internet can be disrupted from time to time. However, there is a thrill that comes from relaxing and merging with the natural rhythms.

The first inhabitants of the Bahamas were the Lucayans - an anglicization of the Spanish word Lucayas.

The word Lucayas was coined by the Spanish explorers from two native words Taino Lukku - Cairi - meaning people of the islands.

Settlers fleeing religious and political persecution in Bermuda founded a settlement on the island in 1648 and proclaimed themselves the Eleuthera Adventurers. They named it Eleuthera a name that has its roots in the Ancient Greek word for freedom.

The island, which has a population of 11,000, is approximately 225 miles from the coast of Florida, and is part of the Grand Bahama Bank.

Eleuthera is 110 miles long and anywhere from 100 feet and 2 miles wide, its shores are washed to the east by the Caribbean Sea and to the west by the Atlantic Ocean.

The Caribbean coastline is a submerged string of carbonate limestone platforms which have been accumulating since the Cretaceous age, making much of the island’s waters very shallow (on average not deeper than 80 feet).

During the last Ice Age some 15,000 years ago, these banks were dry, the limestone structures were exposed to chemical weathering and erosion, which created the numerous caves, blue holes and outcrops of ancient coral reefs.

On the Atlantic side the force of the ocean has ground up coral to a fine talcum like powder which forms its long and wide pink sand beaches.

Aside from the abundant variety of fish and marine life, the local wildlife includes 13 catalogued species of native amphibians and reptiles, three of which were listed as endangered in 2000.

Two of its most significant exports are crawfish (local lobster) and pineapple.