Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Artist Survival Kit Wrap Up: The Artist and Curator in the Studio

by Sarah Hearn, ASK Workshop Liaison

Saturday, November 19 marked the second OVAC Artist SurvivalKit Workshop of the season. The topic of discussion was The Artist & Curator in the Studio: Professional Development for the Emerging Artist. Presenter and independent curator Shannon Fitzgerald demystified the symbiotic and sometimes long-term relationships that flourish between artists and curators. Individual Artists of Oklahoma gallery was the host venue for the workshop and the talk was well attended.

Fitzgerald opened with a brief slide lecture exploring the history of artists in their studios.  This fun, voyeuristic trip through time peered into the disparate creative spaces of artists such as Rembrandt, Francis Bacon and Polly Apfelbaum.  Fitzgerald also addressed the importance of artists maintaining an active studio practice.  She provided frank, but sincere advice about hosting or participating in studio visits.

Although Fitzgerald’s workshop was informative and relevant to any artist working in the studio, it brought to my attention a major need for more curator/artist interaction. Currently there just aren’t enough local opportunities for artists to work directly with curators; therefore, many are unsure of what this experience entails. It is true that Oklahoma has the occasional contemporary curator or critic visiting specific arts institutions and universities, but it is rare that these people visit local artists studios or stay in state for any length of time.  It is also true that there are a handful of curators at local arts institutions, but very few of them deal directly with contemporary artists on a regular basis. Those that do, are often so overwhelmed with their respective institutional responsibilities that these interactions can be infrequent or rushed.

I believe the artists of Oklahoma should respectfully cultivate change!  How do we do this?  Well, I propose we start by visiting each other’s studios.  In fact, since November 19, I have hosted one studio visit and participated in two others.  Each experience has been uniquely enriching; I intend to make these visits more frequently among my peers.  If we want to be better artists, we need to discuss the content and outcome of our work, obtain and offer honest, critical feedback, and collectively celebrate the triumphs of local artistic success.  Furthermore, there is no law against artists acting as curators themselves.  Local artists should curate and organize more exhibitions among their peers. This experience can lead to not only a better understanding of the important role curators can play in artists careers, but lead to better visibility for emerging artists and curators alike.  Advocacy should also factor into this cultivation.  Once we raise our visibility collectively, we should request that institutions consider offering their guest curators, critics and lectures the opportunity to visit local studios.  What do you think?  Any takers?


romy owens said...

i would visit sarah's studio anytime!

suzeszucs said...

sounds like a fabulous plan. i look forward to hearing about the results.

Visual Arts Aficionado said...

I am a young curator of a Gallery in OKC. There NEEDS to be more of a culture for this here! I am glad it is being talked about.