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Public outreach

Artist in Residence Program

The Purpose of the SURF AiR program is to invite artists to create work inspired by the Sanford Underground Research Facility.
SURF AiR graphic hero image

Type: Residency and Exhibition Opportunity  
Posted by: Sanford Underground Research Facility, Artist-in-Residence Program.
Application Deadline: November 1, 2023

Applicants are invited to apply for the 2024 Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) Artist-in-Residence (AiR) program in Lead, South Dakota.


The purpose of the SURF AiR program is to invite artists to create work inspired by the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) set in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. SURF’s unique location and history make it an ideal place for creative work. SURF is the deepest underground laboratory in the United States, reaching nearly a mile below the surface. It houses experiments in physics, biology, geology, and engineering. This site is also the home of the former Homestake Gold Mine. The SURF AiR program leverages the unique characteristics of SURF and the science experiments it hosts to create awareness and encourage interdisciplinary work. This residency is modeled after various programs offered by government, science and industry including the National Park Service, CERN, and Fermilab.


The SURF AiR includes a four-week on-site visit during the summer of 2024 and a one-week art installation/guest lecture visit during the fall of 2024. Timeframes for the visits will be determined by each artist’s schedule in coordination with SURF (please note, available dates for the summer visit are between May 22-July 31 and the fall installation/guest lecture visit is scheduled for October). The SURF AiR Program includes the following for the artist: transportation in the form of airfare, rental car or mileage, housing and per diem for both visits. The artist will have access to a studio space. The program includes tours of above and below ground facilities. SURF will provide a guide for all onsite activities at the Lab at all times. The artist will also be given required safety training and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which will be provided on loan while on site. SURF will provide the artist with a stipend of $5,000 paid in two installments over the course of the residency. The artist can apply for up to $5,000 in additional funds to be used for the creation of the artwork.

The artist will have an art exhibition and up to two lectures based on the artist’s proposal during the fall of 2024. In addition to the lectures, each artist will provide promotional or outreach events within the local community. SURF will work with the artist to establish and schedule these events. This may include working with local schools and universities, interviews and/or documentation of the residency. Each artist will donate at least one piece of artwork to the Lab to be included in the SURF permanent art collection, this artwork will be selected by a representative of the Lab. SURF will make arrangements for the exhibition location. The artist will be responsible for installation and de-installation of the artwork (in coordination with SURF and the exhibition space). SURF will cover the cost of return shipping up to $7,000.

Working underground requires that the artist is comfortable in dark spaces and follows safety protocol. The artist must also be able to walk on uneven surfaces for at least a mile at a time, for emergency purposes. Travel underground entails taking an elevator ride in the dark as well as negotiating wet conditions and slippery surfaces. A guide is required and will be with the artist at all times while at SURF.

A timeline and expectations will be agreed upon before the residency begins. An MOU will be drafted and signed by the artist and SURF.

Sample Itinerary for Summer Visit: 

The itinerary will be based on the artist’s interests in SURF as determined by the artist’s application and in coordination with SURF. Please note the expectation is for a four-week onsite visit summer 2024 and an art exhibition/guest lecture October 2024. All arrangements will be made through SURF and agreed upon through an MOU.

  1. Week 1 - Meet with the SURF Lab Director. General safety training, underground visits, tour of Lead and Sanford Homestake Visitors Center. Gallery visit. Studio time.
  2. Week 2 - Underground visits, tour of Black Hills Mining Museum, tour of historic water treatment plant, dinner with scientists. Studio Time.
  3. Week 3 - Underground visits, visit to historic Homestake Opera House. Studio time.
  4. Week 4 - Underground visits, community outreach event (which may include an area K-12 school, university, or guest lecture). Studio time.  

Application Process:

Artists who apply for and are considered for the SURF AiR program should have a strong professional record including major regional, national or international exhibitions, or similarly documented experience. Artists in all media are encouraged to apply. This includes but is not limited to visual artists, filmmakers, writers, and musicians.

Artist’s application must include:

  1. Letter of intent and statement explaining the artist’s interest in being an Artist-in-Residence at SURF. In your letter, please note ways you will contribute to SURF.
  2. Short CV/Resume (2-5 page maximum).
  3. 15-20 examples of artwork completed in the last five years (please include image list or other way to identify your work).
  4. Anticipated Materials Budget (if already known beyond the $5,000 artist stipend).
  5. Reference list with names and contact information for three professional references.

Please submit these materials as PDF files by November 1, 2023 to the SURF AiR Application Portal.


Contact Gina Gibson, SURF AiR Coordinator