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This Tumblr features the work of illustration students at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
What happened to the inclusion of plants in exhibition spaces? Read more…
Image: 1964 exhibition at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
Remember when the Walker had houseplants? Yeah, me either.
Jerome 12/13 fellows and local arts writer Jay Gabler meet at Bockley Gallery to see the work of Lauren Roche.Jay will be penning essays about each fellow for the exhibition catalog that will accompany the fellows’ exhibition at MCAD Gallery in October 2013. Dinner and planning continued at Common Roots. We are on a roll!
The Jerome Artist Fellowship at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design is now on Tumblr! Follow them to watch the progress of these talented artists over the course of the year.
Every time a group of artists start a collective I have to admit I get excited. I like being around other artists, especially when we all have a similar interest. I like it so much that I’m quick to forget that despite liking to be social, when it comes to work I’m a creature of solitude. I can play well with others just fine, but working with them is a little more difficult. It’s hard for me to focus on work and socializing at the same time, so I end up having to do them both separately.
Despite the fact that there are plenty of successful artist collectives that have been around for decades, even centuries, I just can’t work that way. I know that all collectives have different values and comprise different elements that help them function well in the art world. No one collective is the same and any one organization can experience multiple changes over time. There will be new collectives that will crop up here and there, some of them may work and some may not. I even planned to start a collective with a friend once (however, we came up with this idea while we were high, which should give you some idea of its shelf life). Personally, being in a collective makes me feel like I’ve lost purpose, but what has actually happened is that my purpose becomes intertwined within the purpose of other; I lose myself within the group.
I really do like the idea of getting together with other artists and getting some work done, but a collective isn’t something you can dive into head first because you just want to have fun making art. As awesome as art is when it’s your profession if you’re in a collective it’s also the profession of others. It’s important to respect the fact that when you’re working within a group that it isn’t just about you, it’s about everyone. Artists can be very solipsistic; we have a tendency to forget that there are other people in the world doing things that are just a valuable as what we’re doing. When you’re working in a group you have a responsibility to contribute the best of your abilities to that group and its function. You don’t just have your career to worry about when you’re in a collective because it’s all for one and one for all; if one of you falls then the rest feel the impact.
You have to be careful when you attach yourself to something because it’s not only a sign that you’ve committed but that you’ve also contributed, meaning that you take partial responsibility for what the group puts out into the world. It’s also important to assess the values of the collective you’re joining; if you don’t agree with the way they operate or the way they treat you than leave or don’t join at all. Don’t let the possibility of recognition or awkward peer pressure make you feel like you have to work in a way that makes you uncomfortable. I used to think that joining a collective was an easy way to get into more shows, connect with people who could get me into more shows, and further my career. It didn’t take me long to realize that there is no easy way to do that; it’s hard work wall to wall. You just have to put forth the effort and not expect anything to come easily.
We all want to work with people we feel can help us and that we can help in return; people we can collaborate with on projects and work towards a common goal. But once that project is finished I’d like for us to go our separate ways professionally and not marry ourselves to the idea of working together permanently. It gives us the freedom to make moves and decisions without always worrying about how it will affect someone else. Joining an artist collective is cool if that’s what you want to do, but remember that it’s not just your dreams you have at your feet, so please tread softly.
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Art by Paul Rolfes (at Jerabek’s New Bohemian)
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Hairy Maple Seeds, a tiny sculpture by Jim Proctor, will be part of Edge of Camp, an upcoming exhibit at the Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis.
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A photograph from Indian First, a new exhibit by Ho-Chunk photographer Tom Jones.
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Denise Rouleau’s “terra gatto warriors,” now on display at the Douglas Flanders Fine Arts Gallery in Minneapolis.
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I first heard the term “sellout” while in art school during a discussion on the subject; I’m not entirely sure why we were having this discussion, but it seemed everyone was in agreement that the one thing that guaranteed sellout status was a shift in values that alienated anyone who admired you as an artist.
When someone calls an artist a sellout, what they’re actually saying is, “I’m bitter and resentful that you’re gaining success and recognition and I’m not, so I’m going to try to make you feel bad in order to make myself feel better.” One might also refer to this as bullying, but I won’t for the sake of the argument. This is the definition I have more experience with.
If we are expected to subscribe to this hogwash, then we’re expected to believe in the validity of this equation:
ART + SUCCESS = “SELLING OUT”
Remember this equation because you will need it later.
If someone has ever called me a sellout I wouldn’t know it, because they don’t have the stones to say it to my face. From the very second I knew that I could be an artist, I wanted to make money at it—because if I want to do the things I love for the rest of my life then I have to make a living doing them or else I’ll have to survive by eating oil paints. The romantic notion of the starving artist living only on his inspiration is total B.S. and is completely unrealistic; poverty does not equal purity (another equation I would like you to remember). Because of this, wanting to make money as an artist is perfectly sensible.
However, most people are well aware that art isn’t something you get into if you’re looking to strike it rich. And when someone gives me a cocky smile and says, “I’m just trying to make some money,” I understand that they have no idea that the long road they’re headed down is paved with empty pockets and penniless piggy banks. Sure, money may come somewhere down the line, but in the beginning you spend most of your time being dirt poor. The psychopath in me finds it amusing because I know that if I tell them how much work it is they probably won’t believe me. They’re the people who are the quickest to let the word “sellout” drop from their mouths.
Never let someone make you feel bad because the art world kicked their ass and you’re still standing. Standing is hard when you’re a working artist, so it’s great when someone notices and is happy to acknowledge what you do. What I don’t get is why, if art is so innate to human civilization, are we discouraged from doing it on every level? If we “fail” then we have to contend with all the alcoholic, drug-addicted stereotypes; if we “succeed,” we are made to feel like we have sold our souls for money. The fluctuation between failure and success can change within the hour, and I only feel like a success when I don’t go to bed crying about it.
So, here’s what I want you to do the next time someone tries to judge how you go about your business in this manner. You look them straight in the eye and ask them to “do it better.” Because if they could do it better, than that’s what they would be doing instead of trying to make you feel bad for what they can’t accomplish. Because ART + SUCCESS = AWESOME.
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As an artist, if you don’t evolve, you die. Not literally, lying in the gutter surrounded by wine bottles with the bitter air of artistic contempt swirling around your corpse—though people still buy into that stereotype. It isn’t nearly that dramatic, but it is scary.
The realization that the style you’ve been comfortable working in is now something you’ve grown bored with is melancholic. It becomes exhausting to meet deadlines when you’re agonizing over incomplete work that you struggle to finish because you’re old methods frustrate you. You become resentful of other artists for showing off their new work and promoting their new exhibitions; you feel like everyone is leaving you behind. I always tell myself to keep moving forward; I say this to keep myself motivated and to stave off my spiral downward into insanity. It’s worked so far, but there are days when I wonder if I’ve gone as far as I’m meant to go. Maybe my journey as an artist stops here.
Once you’ve found a method that works, something that people will buy, you don’t want to change because you’re afraid that no one will want anything different. What if galleries don’t want to show your new work? What if publications don’t want to write about it? What if no one buys anything ever again? Some artists survive solely on the money their artwork brings in and evolving can be a big risk that greatly cuts into your livelihood.
Every artist has that fear; the fear that the pursuit of a creative career won’t become fruitful. For me, that fear manifests itself as working a minimum-wage job at Walmart, and having to do that demeaning Walmart chant every morning with the horrible Walmart dance and squiggle included.
Is the risk worth taking? Well, in some cases you don’t have much of a choice. Currently, I’m finding that not only am I bored with my work, but so is everyone else. I’ve told the same story in the same way too many times and no one, including me, is interested anymore and no one wants to buy what they’ve seen countless times for free. The world is bigger than the 8.5x11 inch pieces of paper I use to draw on, and my mind is expanding much further than my old methods can express. What was once my truth is no longer true and to continue to make work based in what is no longer true would be dishonest. I can’t lie to others that way, and I certainly can’t lie to myself, not while I’m trying to pursue the most honest part of who I am.
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