Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gallery Install

This week we are in the mists of the final exhibition for our graduating class. There are 6 of us exhibiting together, which gave each of us a good deal of space. Since this week is really busy I will just quickly paste up some images of the install so far. It's looking great and we got the Suzanne Lacy approval today. Two more days to go, with lots of little details to get into place.

The pink rectangles are part of my exhibition. I have to say that this is a heavily curated show, to the point that we sometimes have to wait for further approval to proceed. A new experience, but nice to know others are looking out for the groups best interest, by making it the best showing possible.

Studio Visitors

Recently we had scheduled studio visits with curator Emi Fontana, from the West of Rome project. After her wonderful lecture I rushed back to my studio space to prepare for our meeting. I realized that I had a special guest coming to visit, and that I should really provide some hospitality in the form of food, as a token of appreciation. This required a quick trip to the store to purchase some Pellegrino, strawberries and pistachios.

If I have learned anything in Public Practice it is always have food around, as it inspires a communal feel. Breaking bread with someone is still a primal tradition that I think is a part of our psyche. So for this reason, and I am sure there are more, always provide food for your guests or project participants.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How to Sustain an Art Practie?

I am now one month away from graduation and about to step back out into the real world, or am I? The question of what's next is on my mind. I have been asking myself this question about art and sustainability for years now, and have mostly worked around it; making projects when I needed to. Since I view my art practice as an externalization of internal thoughts and conflicts, mixed with contemporary social issues, this method of sparse production works for me. As I consider how to make a living this gets more complicated, because I never viewed my art practice as an income generator. Recently I came across a good article that legitimized my feelings concerning this issue: e-flux issue 24, viewable here:

With this in mind, I've realized that its not about choosing art or another profession. I want to be an artist. I want to be paid to philosophize and develop aesthetic experiences that explore the world we live in. Yes, I want these things, but I live in a world that is dictated by money, capital and no health care without it. Perhaps this is an existential dilemma that would not be necessary if I was an EU citizen.

I now have 2 clear options to proceed in, as I wrap up my graduate work for my MFA. I can leave this program and go back to work for the arts education sector, which is not a bad place to be. I like children and the mission, but am skeptical of the pay ($=health care/life). I also found out that I was accepted into Cal-Poly Pomona's Urban Planning Program. This, as you can imagine, is a hard thing to talk myself into, 2 more years of school right now. And what if there are no jobs in planning after all, and I moved further away from my professional experience in Arts Ed? These are the components of my personal dilemma, but I think most of my generation are in this boat.

It can be a very difficult thing to explain to family and other generations, that there really are no more safe jobs. Teaching for example was a sort of back-up plan. I believe education is extremely important, but didn't think I had the stamina for it; however, there are great benefits. All that aside, there are no teaching jobs. This year over 5,000 educators were laid off in Los Angeles alone. The possibilities of teaching does increase as you look at other geographical areas, but I'm not sure I want to plan my life around a more rural local.

Looking at other artists' practices can also be helpful. One of the big problems that I had after my first year of graduate study at Otis was that they kept bringing in artists that had other graduate degrees outside of art. They were professionals in these fields (planners, architects, designers), and I was now paying to hear how they self-fund there artwork in other fields! This was a big conflict for me, and remains one, as I try to create a very personal professional path that gives my life meaning.

This concept of work giving meaning to one's life is a construct by the way. I have been reading Alain de Botton's "The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work" and it was interesting to learn that the United States' founding fathers perpetuated this concept of work having meaning. This seems to make a lot of economic sense, doesn't it? Carlos Castaneda also discussing a similar idea in one of his books about the pain of loving too much. When everything in your life stems from a love relationship to that object, the possibility for pain can be experienced on all fronts. I have to say that this is another legitimizing feeling that I've had recently. Just give me something that I can make $$ doing that I have a less intensive personal relationship to, so I can pour it into the artwork.

I can't say that I can really offer a solution here, accept the obvious one of try to do both. One thing I've realized is that I did not take the easy path here, and that is why this is hard and hurts so much. Although, I can't say that I know any other way, or whether another way would have worked for me anyhow. This is my path that I've created, and the best I can do is to own it, honor it, and remind myself that its a rough road to travel.