Archive for the ‘film/video’ Category

Fellows Notes – Oct 16

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

October-y news from current and past MCC Artist Fellows/Finalists.

Shelley Reed, ON THE WALL (AFTER HONDECOETER) (2010), oil on canvas, 48x36 in

Caleb Cole, Dana Filibert, Shelley Reed, and Sarah Wentworth are among the artist exhibiting in Fertile Solitude at the Mills Gallery at Boston Center for the Arts (10/14-12/18, opening reception 10/14, 6-8 PM). The exhibition, curated by FLUX.Boston creator Elizabeth Devlin, explores the idea of reprieve from everyday life through the physical framework of a maze that exhibition visitors are free to explore.

MCC Artist Fellows and Finalists will read at Forbes Library in Northampton (10/19, 7 PM). The readers are D M Gordon, Heather Kamins, Richard Michelson, Sarah Sousa, and Elizabeth Witte. Learn more and find the event on Facebook.


Sachiko Akiyama has a solo exhibition of paintings and sculptures, Sachiko Akiyama: Between Here and There, at Matter & Light Fine Art (thru 10/31).

Alexandra Anthony‘s film Lost in the Bewilderness screens at the Robbins Library in Arlington, MA (10/20, 7 PM), as part of the Arlington International Film Festival’s 2016 Robbins Library Monthly Film Series. Free and open to the public, Q & A with Alexandra Anthony to follow.

YouTube Preview Image

Alice Bouvrie is screening her film A Chance To Dress at MIT (10/13, 7 PM). The filmmaker along with the subjects of the film, Dr. John “Tephra” Southard and his wife, Rev. Jean Southard, will be present for a post-screening Q & A.

Matt Brackett‘s first solo show in Boston in four years will take place at Alpha Gallery (10/7-11/2, opening reception 10/7, 6-8 PM). One of the included paintings, Moonstone, was one of 35 works out of over 2,400 applicants to receive a Certificate of Excellence in the Portrait Society of America’s International Portrait Competition last spring. See the artist’s Studio Views post on ArtSake.

Charles Coe is among the artists selected for the Boston Artists-in-Residence Program.

Mary Jane Doherty will have the West Coast premiere of her documentary Primaria at the San Francisco Dance Film Festival (10/23, 2 PM).

Tory Fair has a solo show of drawing/sculpture hybrids, Tory Fair: Paperweight at VERY in Boston (thru 10/22).

Jake Fried‘s animation was featured on the science technology/pop culture blog io9.

Georgie Friedman has unveiled a site-specific video installation at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester, Traces of Wind and Water (thru 11/14), part of her work as a City of Boston Artist in Residence Program. There is a Boston AIR reception 11/14 at the Strand.

Beth Galston has a solo show at the Cynthia Reeves Gallery in North Adams (thru 11/13).

Marky Kauffmann was invited to participate in the Berlin Foto Biennale after being named a finalist in the 2015 Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Women Photographers. Also, she’ll exhibit in the group show Mirror with a Memory at the Peter Miller Gallery in Providence, RI (10/20-11/12, opening reception 10/20, 5-9 PM).

Lisa Kessler received a George Gund Foundation commission to photograph in the Cleveland public schools. The photography collection will be on exhibit at the Cleveland Public Main Library in downtown Cleveland (thru 10/28). A smaller traveling exhibit will be on display at several library branches around the city.

Colleen Kiely will have a solo show at the Simmons College Trustman Art Gallery (10/11-11/9, opening reception 10/20, 5-7 PM, artist’s talk 10/26, 12-1 PM). She’ll also have work in the pop-up exhibit Stark Naked at Gallery Kayafas, 10/16, 7-10 PM.

Niho Kozuru has a solo show, Positive Vibration, at Miller Yezerski Gallery (thru 11/15).

Dawn Kramer, along with Stephen Buck, will participate in this year’s Roslindale Open Studios (10/22-10/23).

Yary Livan was featured in the Lowell Sun.

Melinda Lopez has a new play, Mala, at ArtsEmerson (10/27-11/20). Also, she contributed a short play to Still Waiting a series of vignettes created to accompany the play Waiting for Lefty at Boston College Robsham Theatre (10/13-10/16).

Tara Masih is the Series Editor for the annual Best Small Fictions series, which just published the 2016 edition.

Rania Matar has photography in the exhibition Mortal Things: Portraits Look Back and Forth at Tufts University Art Center (thru 12/4). Her solo show Becoming: Girls, Women, and Coming of Age exhibits at Pictura Gallery in Bloomington, IN (10/7-11/26, opening reception 10/7 5-8 PM, artist talk 10/11, 7 PM). In December, that same gallery will exhibit Rania’s work in Pulse Miami. Her work is included in Aftermath: The Fallout of War – America and the Middle East at Harn Museum of Art in Gainesville, FL (thru 12/ 31. artist talk 10/23, 2 PM) Her work is also exhibiting at Galerie Janine Rubeiz, Beirut Lebanon and at C. Grimaldis Gallery

Mary Bucci McCoy is in the experimental group exhibition Fiction (With Only Daylight Between Us) at boeckercontemporary in Heidelberg, Germany (10/15-31). Also, she will have a public conversation with Brooklyn artist David Mann at Rafius Fane Gallery in SoWa, Boston (10/8, 2-4 PM).

Joshua Meyer has a solo show, Seek My Face: The Art of Joshua Meyer, 2000-2016 at The Dortort Center for Creativity in the Arts at UCLA (thru 12/23, reception 10/27, 7-9 PM).

Richard Michelson was featured in WBUR Radio for his children’s book about Leonard Nimoy, Fascinating.

Nathalie Miebach is in the group show Intersections: Artists Master Line and Space at Akron Art Museum (thru 1/15). Also, she’ll give a talk at Ohio Wesleyan University (10/19, 7 PM) as part of the Sagan National Colloquium.

Ethan Murrow has a large-scale wall drawing in Escape Routes at the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, WI (thru 1/15). See an interview about the process.

Jendi Reiter‘s debut novel Two Natures was published in September by Saddle Road Press. Broadside Bookshop in Northampton, MA is hosting her local book launch (10/19, 7 PM).

Jo Ann Rothschild will exhibit work in the Fall Open House at the Studio at 535 Albany Street in Boston (10/27, 5-8 PM).

Samuel Rowlett has a solo exhibition of recent multimedia work, A Thing Not Planned for Imagery or Belief, on view in the South Gallery at Greenfield Community College (thru 11/3). There will be a gallery talk 10/26, 12 PM, and a closing reception 11/2, 5:30-7 PM.

James Rutenbeck‘s film Class of ’27 is an Editor’s Pick from The Atlantic.

Jane Smaldone‘s exhibition Rocks & Roses and The Return of the Fox shows at Clark Gallery in Lincoln (thru 10/31).

Stephen Tourlentes has work in the group exhibition Surveillance at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO (thru 1/29).

Joe Wardwell has a solo show at LaMontagne Gallery in Winchester (thru 11/11) and another exhibition, Soon I Will Be President at Southern New Hampshire University McIninch Art Gallery (11/3-12/17, opening reception and artist talk 11/3, 5-7 PM).

Cary Wolinsky has a solo exhibition of photography, Cary Wolinsky: Fiber of Life at Fuller Craft Museum (10/8-2/26, opening reception 11/6, 2-5 PM).

Jung Yun reads from her novel Shelter at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C. in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (10/5, 6-8 PM), sponsored by the Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project.

Angela Zammarelli is exhibiting in the group show The Unity of Opposites at A.P.E. Gallery in Northampton, MA (thru 10/30, opening reception 10/14, 5-8 PM). She is currently in residence at The Studios at MASS MoCA and will be participating in an open studios 10/19, 5-7 PM.

Read past Fellows Notes. If you’re a past fellow/finalist with news, let us know.

Images and media: Shelley Reed, ON THE WALL (AFTER HONDECOETER) (2010), oil on canvas, 48×36 in; Alexandra Anthony’s interview from the 40 Years of Fellowships Project.

Fellows Notes – Aug 16

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

August, that most distinguished of late summer months, arrives with a new array of news from current and past MCC Artist Fellows & Finalists.

Nicole Duennebier (Painting Fellow '16) and Caitlin Duennebier, CONGREGATION ON THE BRIGHTEST NIGHT (2016), acrylic on laminate panel, 48x60 in

Congratulations to Sonia Almeida and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, both of whom are among the 2017 James and Audrey Foster Prize artists!

Amy Archambault and Leslie Schomp are in the Regional Exhibition of Art and Craft at Fitchburg Art Museum (thru 9/4).


Steven Barkhimer has launched an IndieGoGo campaign to support a new project, the adaptation and staging of a classical Indian play.

Linda Bond is one of the artists exhibiting in Up in Arms: Taking Stock of Guns at Brattleboro Museum (thru 10/23).

Alice Bouvrie is screening her film A Chance to Dress at The Space in Jamaica Plain (8/20, 8 PM).

Timothy Coleman has work in an exhibition at Castle in the Clouds in New Hampshire (8/21, 5:30 PM), with New Hampshire Furniture Masters.

Rebecca Doughty has a show of new work, entitled More Pictures, at the Schoolhouse Gallery in Provincetown (8/26-9/14, opening reception 8/26, 6-9 PM).

Nicole Duennebier has a collaborative exhibition with Caitlin Duennebier, Fragment of Sister Head, at Lens Gallery in Boston (opening reception 8/5, 6-8:30 PM).

Samantha Fields is exhibiting in SEVEN: A Performative Drawing Project (Reunion) at Montserrat College of Art (thru 9/10), and is among the artists in Contexture at Jane Lombard Gallery in NYC (thru 8/31).

Basia Goszczynska has a solo exhibition, Rainbow Credits, on view at the Mid-Manhattan Library (thru 8/1).

Michael Hoerman is on the map! Created by poet C.D. Wright in 1994, A Readers’ Map of Arkansas honors writers who contribute to the rich culture of Arkansas literature, whom Arkansas has nurtured.

Zehra Khan is among the artists in AMP: Art Market Provincetown (thru 8/11).

Scott Listfield has a solo show at Lancaster Museum of Art as part of the Made in America series (8/13-10/30).

Rachel Mello is one of the artists exhibiting in TEN Kingston Associates: Our Voices at Kingston Gallery (8/3-8/28, opening reception 8/5, 5:30-8 PM).

Lisa Olivieri‘s film Blindsided got a great review in

Cecelia Raker‘s play La Llorona was a runner-up for the Princess Grace Award.

Daniel Ranalli will lead a conversation on the work of Liz Deschenes at ICA Boston (8/31, 2 PM). The discussion is free with museum admission.

Monica Rayond‘s play A to Z was a finalist for both the Jane Chambers Award and ATHE Award for Excellence in Playwriting. Paper of Plastic, a short opera for which she wrote the libretto (music, Charles Turner), won second prize in Opera Kansas’s short opera competition.

Jendi Reiter‘s debut novel Two Natures will be published in September by Saddle Road Press of Hilo, HI, and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon. Broadside Bookshop in Northampton, MA is hosting her local book launch (10/19, 7 PM).

Read past Fellows Notes. If you’re a past fellow/finalist with news, let us know.

Image: Caitlin Duennebier and Nicole Duennebier (Painting Fellow ’16), CONGREGATION ON THE BRIGHTEST NIGHT (2016), acrylic on laminate panel, 48×60 in.

For the Win

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

In mid-August, we plan to publish our guidelines for the 2017 Artist Fellowships cycle.

In preparation, we’ve updated our Tips on Applying for an MCC Artist Fellowships article on ArtSake. We’ve also recently updated our compendium of opportunities to find funding as a Massachusetts artist.

If you’re a Massachusetts artist hoping for funding to make your work, both articles are worth your time.

And while we’re on the topic of awards and grants, congratulations are in order for a number of local artists who’ve recently won honors in the arts.


Production still from Y2Y, a film-in-progress by Laurie Kahn

LEF Foundation Moving Image Fund Awards Local Filmmakers
LEF Foundation, a crucial supporter of nonfiction film in New England, recently announced $30,000 in pre-production grants to early-stage film projects. Some of the funded projects include Laurie Kahn’s Y2Y, about a visionary homeless shelter for young adults in Harvard Square, Alex Morelli’s The White Pine Project, about a former mining town that becomes a travel stop for families of maximum security prisoners, and Soon-Mi Yoo and Haden Guest’s Traveling Gods, about the divergent paths Christianity has taken in Korea and Japan. The $5,000 awards go to films that “demonstrate excellence in technique, strong storytelling ability, and originality of artistic vision and voice.”

The next grant deadline for the LEF Foundation Moving Image Fund is January 27, 2017 for projects seeking production or post-production support.


Detail of painting by Masako Kamiya, photo by Clements/Howcroft Photography

Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Foundation Grants Awarded to Three Massachusetts Painters
The Provincetown Art Association and Museum’s Lilian Orlowsky and William Freed Foundation Grant (for American painters aged 45 or older) awards monetary prizes from $5,000 to $30,000. Congratulations to the recently announced 2016 grantees, including Massachusetts-based artists Masako Kamiya (Painting Fellow ’10, ’06), Frank Gregory, and Marjorie Kaye.

The 2017 application for this grant will be available after September 1, 2016.


Find more grant and other opportunities in ArtSake’s Artist Opportunities round-ups.

Images: Production still from Y2Y, a film-in-progress by Laurie Kahn; detail of painting by Masako Kamiya, photo by Clements/Howcroft Photography.

Artist Opportunties for All

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016


Call for Art Seeking submissions from New England area contemporary artists and artist groups/organizations of all mediums to exhibit in The Enso Art Gallery, located in downtown Brockton MA. Email the following to a link to a portfolio of work; resume, or a brief description of your art related experiences; a paragraph summary of the work you wish to present.
Deadline: Ongoing

Documentary Filmmakers Fledgling has an open rolling application process for grants to support outreach and engagement for social issue documentary film projects that have the potential to inspire positive social change around issues that affect the most vulnerable. Grants typically range from $10K?—?$25K, and the awards support audience engagement planning and implementation. Support for planning is for building the strategy for outreach and engagement and can be used before a project is complete to prepare for its launch. Grants are not available to support production or post-production. Learn more.
Deadline: Rolling

Playwrights Residency The Ingram New Works Lab is an artistic home for playwrights and a fertile environment for the creation of new plays. During monthly Lab meetings in Nashville, playwrights share and develop a new work and receive  support and project guidance. During their residency, each playwright will be expected to work toward the creation of a brand new play that will be presented in a staged reading featured at the Ingram New Works Festival in May 2017. Learn more.
Deadline: June 13, 2016

Call to Artists The Rocky Neck Art Colony is currently accepting entries for their upcoming exhibition, A Visual Feast. This exhibition will be on view at the very peak of summer activity on Rocky Neck which sees hundred of visitors every day. Learn more.
Deadline: June 22, 2016

Call for Art Galatea Fine Art announces a call for artists for its upcoming juried exhibition, New England Collective VII. Open to artists from New England working in all media. Learn more.
Deadline: July 10, 2016

Choreographers The New England Dance Fund will award small, catalytic grants directly to choreographers who identify and articulate a critical opportunity that will significantly advance their career in dance. The fund aims to strengthen the dance sector in the New England region. Learn more.
Deadline: July 15, 2016

Call for Artists Roxbury Open Studios is a once-a-year opportunity to welcome the public to view and purchase paintings, drawings, sculptures, textiles, jewelry, other fine arts, and studio crafts. The event provides a means for individual creativity to play its part in the cultural and economic development of Roxbury. Learn more.
Deadline: August 1, 2016

GROUNDBREAKING GRANT OPPORTUNITY**New MacArthur Competition for 100 Million $ Grant **The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced a competition through which a single $100 million grant will be awarded to a project designed to solve a critical problem affecting people, a place, or the entire world. Learn more.
Deadline: September 2, 2016 (11:00 a.m. Central)

Image: the White House lit up with rainbow colors, done in commemoration of the Supreme Court’s ruling to recognize same-sex marriage nationwide, in June 2015.

Fellows Notes – Jun 16

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Summery news from current and past MCC Artist Fellows/Finalists.

Nathalie Miebach, BLUEBERRIES (2016), Wood, rope, paper, reed, 10x6x9 in

Congratulations to Ilisa Barbash, Jane Gillooly, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, and Lucia Small, all of whom will receive funding from the LEF Foundation as part of their Spring 2016 Moving Image Fund awards.

Carrie Bennett and Frannie Lindsay join Jennifer Barber for a poetry reading at Porter Square Books on 6/8, 7 PM and another at Newtonville Books on 6/16, 7PM.

Five new works created by teams of women artists – which include four past MCC awardees – will be presented as the latest Art on the Marquee by Boston Cyberarts. Ambreen Butt, Mags Harries, Nathalie Miebach, and Deb Todd Wheeler are all creating work for the 80-foot-tall multi-screen LED marquee outside the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (opening reception 6/1, 6:30-8:30 PM).


Elizabeth Alexander will have a solo exhibition, Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year at Boston Sculptors Gallery (6/8-7/17, artists reception 6/11, 2-5 PM).

Sandra Allen is among the artists in exhibiting in TreeMuse at the Suffolk University Art Gallery (6/9-7-7, reception 6/9, 5-7 PM).

Claire Beckett‘s solo exhibition Converts at Carroll & Sons Gallery received a great review in the Boston Globe. Her work was also featured on

Congratulations to Sari Boren, who was awarded a 2016 Emerging Artist Grant from the St. Botolph Club Foundation. Recently, her essay Failure to Ignite; A Body at Rest was published in the literary journal Hobart.

Christy Georg is artist-in-residence in the Kohler Arts/Industry Program thru July 2016.

Michael Hoerman recently published three poems in the Spring 2016 issue of Eureka Literary Magazine. This summer, he attends the inaugural Sedona Arts Center residency in Sedona, AZ.

Danielle Legros Georges received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Emerson College in May.

Holly Lynton has a solo exhibition of her series Bare Handed in the Filter Photo Festival in Chicago, IL (6/3-6/23, opening reception 6/3, 6-9 PM). She recently participated in the FIX Photo Festival in London, exhibiting with Laura Noble Gallery, and she was part of Photo Finish at Station Independent Projects in NYC.

Julie Mallozzi has launched a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo for her film project, The Circle.

Thomas McNeely‘s novel Ghost Horse was recently on the shortlist for the 2016 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing (winner to be announced later this summer) and as a finalist for the 2015 Lascaux Prize in Fiction.

Richard Michelson will read (with David Giannini) as part of the Collected Poets Series at Mocha Maya’s Coffee House in Shelburne Falls (6/2, 7 PM).

Congratulations to Nathalie Miebach, who won a Virginia A. Groot Foundation Grant. She exhibits a new body of work, The Little Ones, at Miller Yezerski Gallery (thru 7/5, opening reception 6/3, 6-8 PM). As noted above, she’s one of the artists featured in Boston Cyberarts’ latest Art on the Marquee.

Sue Murad will premiere her new film, A Visitor’s Guide to Reorientation on Spectacle Island, co-created with Maria Molteni and Hermione Spriggs. The 20-minute film will screen as part of the Fort Point Arts Community Spring Open Studios, at the FPAC Space at Envoy Hotel, (6/17, 7:30, 8:30, and 9 PM).

Anne Neely has a solo show, Ireland: Place and Ritual at the Paul Dietrich Gallery (thru 7/8).

Mary O’Donoghue was featured on Christopher Lydon’s NPR program Radio Open Source on a program called Ireland Rises Again!

Lisa Olivieri‘s film Blindsided was featured in Boston Spirit Magazine.

Cecelia Raker will have readings for her play-in-progress La Llorona, first with Playwrights’ Reading Room at Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood (6/6, 7 PM), and then with Fresh Ink Theatre at Boston Public Library (6/14, 6:30 PM). This past year, she has been a Company One PlayLab Fellow and in July, she’ll have work in the PlayLab Fellowship showcase (7/24).

Monica Raymond has poems and a play monologue in the literary journal Drunken Boat.

Shelley Reed has an exhibition, up close, at Sears Peyton Gallery in New York (thru 6/18).

Congratulations to Anna Ross, whose new poetry chapbook Figuring is now available.

Emily Ross and her recent novel Half in Love with Death were featured in a recent Boston Globe article.

Eric Henry Sanders has a radio play to be read in the Life in the 413 event at New Century Theatre in Northampton (6/4, 7 PM).

Ben Sloat is one of the artists in the three-person show Uncannyland at One Mile Gallery in Kingston, NY (6/4-6/25, opening reception 6/4, 6-9 PM).

Naoe Suzuki had an artist residency at the Studios at MASS MoCA, organized by the Assets for Artists Initiative, in April. In 2016, she is Artist in Residence at Broad Institute, a collaborative community pioneering a new model of biomedical research, based in Cambridge, MA. Check out Naoe’s Tumblr site for her project Flow, an extension of the participatory installation she created at UMass Lowell last year.

Jung Yun‘s novel Shelter got a great review in the Briefly Noted section of The New Yorker. She has an article, My Fargo, in the April edition of The Atlantic.

Read past Fellows Notes. If you’re a past fellow/finalist with news, let us know.

Image: Nathalie Miebach, BLUEBERRIES (2016), Wood, rope, paper, reed, 10x6x9 in.

Crowdfunding: A Primer

Friday, May 20th, 2016

From THE CIRCLE by Julie Mallozzi, crowdfunding on IndieGoGo

This is an updated version of a previously published article.

So, you have a creative project (an unfinished film, music album, graphic novel, etc.) and you want funding so you can adequately – make that epically – realize your vision.

Instead of relying solely on traditional grant programs (such as our Artist Fellowships or Local Cultural Council grants), which may or may not match up with your project’s timeline, you might consider using a crowdfunding site as part of your fundraising strategy.

Artists crowdfund by soliciting donations from many individual supporters, directing donations to one central online presence. There are a number of crowdfunding sites for artists to choose from, which generally have these things in common:

  • They make it easy for individuals to make tax-deductible donations.
  • They ask artists to set a fundraising goal.
  • They provide helpful and novel ways to interact with donors, including the ability to offer rewards.
  • And a certain percentage of the donations go to the crowdfunding site to pay for the service.

What sites are out there, and what differentiates them?


From the Kickstarter video for THE CHEMICAL WEDDING BY CHRISTIAN ROSENCREUTZ by John Crowley, illustrated by Theo Fadel, to be published by Small Beer Press

The most prominent crowdfunding site is Kickstarter. Anyone from tech entrepreneurs to working artists can use the site to create campaigns for their project, with a funding goal. Kickstarter campaigners then offer creative rewards (say, an embroidered t-shirt or a DVD of the project or a personalized portrait) to donors, increasing the appeal of the reward based on the donation amount.

Things to keep in mind about Kickstarter: if campaigns do not meet their fundraising goal, the artist gets nothing, so the incentive is high to drum up support. Also, project campaigns need to be approved by Kickstarter to launch.

For an example, check out this campaign by Small Beer Press (out of Easthampton, MA) to publish a new version of what just might be the history’s first science fiction book. The background story is unique and appealing, and the project’s video is especially strong.


THE CLEMENTE PROJECT by James Rutenbeck, crowdfunding on HatchFund

Another major crowdfunding site is Hatchfund (formerly called United States Artists Projects). Hatchfund is similar to Kickstarter in many ways, with tax-deductible donations, creative rewards, and an all-or-nothing fundraising goal. (Additionally, there’s a “stretch goal” if the original is exceeded.)

Unlike Kickstarter, Hatchfund is specifically focused on artists. Some projects may receive matching funds from Hatchfund for a portion of their campaign. And perhaps most significantly, Hatchfund offers one-on-one coaching and support for artists by Hatchfund staff.

Check out The Clemente Project by James Rutenbeck (Film & Video Finalist ’11), which you can also read about here. The campaign does a great job conveying how a story about unheralded voices in one struggling community can have universal significance.


THE CIRCLE Crowdfunding video from Julie Mallozzi

Another crowdfunding site is IndieGoGo. The big difference is that, unlike the all-or-nothing approach of Kickstarter and Hatchfund, you can elect to keep all of the money you raise (minus site fees), even if you don’t meet your goal.

Check out The Circle by Julie Mallozzi (Film & Video Finalist ’15, ’07), which very successfully conveys the potential impact of the project and its appeal to both targeted communities (like anti-violence activists) and a wider audience.

Go Totally DIY
Not a joiner? You could also take the principles of crowdfunding and set up your own campaign. You’ll need a PayPal or similar online payment account, a home base (like a web site homepage or a blog), and a group that will act as an organizational fiscal sponsor so that donations will be tax deductible. In film, the Center for Independent Documentary and Filmmakers Collaborative both serve as fiscal sponsors for film projects, and the New York organization Fractured Atlas serves as fiscal sponsor for artist projects in all disciplines, and throughout the country. You can even include creative rewards and frequent updates to your donors – you’ll just have to handle the infrastructure of these actions on your own.

Best Practices
What are best practices in crowdfunding? Successful campaigns tend to…

  • Tell a compelling story. The campaign, whether through its video, description, updates, or all of the above, successfully conveys why this project is essential and why its supporters’ contributions are meaningful.
  • Tap into and cultivate an interested community.
  • Incentivize support. Rewards are part of that incentive, but even better is when the story is the incentive: the project’s storytelling convinces an interested community that this is a can’t-miss opportunity to be part of something important.

Further research:
Read How do you use online platforms as an artist? on ArtSake
Beth Kanter’s blog shares five basic crowdfunding tips
Find tips on best practices when crowdfunding an artist project on The Abundant Artist

Image: still image from THE CIRCLE by Julie Mallozzi (Film & Video Finalist ’15, ’07) crowdfunding through IndieGoGo; still image from the Kickstarter video for THE CHEMICAL WEDDING BY CHRISTIAN ROSENCREUTZ by John Crowley, illustrated by Theo Fadel, to be published by Small Beer Press; screenshot of the crowdfunding campaign for THE CLEMENTE PROJECT by James Rutenbeck (Film & Video Finalist ’11); IndieGoGo video for THE CIRCLE.

What Role Does Research Play in Your Art?

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Periodically, we pose a question to artists about an issue they face in their work and lives.

Historical, archival, and other research can be crucial to artists, but how and why can vary widely depending on the artist’s work. We asked artists in different disciplines, What role does research play in your process?

View a gallery of some of the research-influenced work of the responding artists

Claire Beckett, photographer
I tend to be interested in subjects that I know very little about, so I need to learn in order to make work. For example, with my current project, The Converts, about Americans converts to Islam, I initially knew very little about the subject. I needed to learn about Islam, about Muslims in America, and about the experience of conversion. I began by reading, where I always begin, because I love to read. I read novels, I re-read The Autobiography of Malcom X, I read a linguistic study, I read ethnography, I read the news. After I while I found that YouTube was full of conversion stories, so I watched those. Beyond the reading, I joined a class for women converting to Islam at a local mosque. When I began attending the class I was straightforward, introducing myself as an artist who wanted to learn about conversion. It must have been odd for the women in the class, but they accepted me. I went on to participate in the class for several years, and I still attend whenever I can. Through the generosity of this group, I learned so much.

Cam Terwilliger, writer
As a historical novelist, research plays an enormous role in my creative process. Right now I’m finishing a novel titled Yet Wilderness Grew in My Heart, which takes place in the colonies of New York and Quebec during the French and Indian War (1754–1763). As the plot develops, the book investigates how colonists conflicted and collaborated with Native people, giving rise to the North America we know today. I’m especially interested in dramatizing the lives of people that existed between cultures, such as Native people that lived in Europe, colonists that studied among Natives, and escaped slaves that took shelter in Indigenous communities.

In terms of process, I research the past first through books of history to get a broad picture of the events, and then I move into primary sources in search of concrete sensory details of the time and place – the details that make the past feel immediate and sensory. I scour through the letters of Jesuit missionaries, the travelogues of naturalists, the narratives of slaves, and newspaper advertisements, hunting for a handful of anecdotes and images that will bring the complex truth of this time into focus. As the novelist Ian McEwan remarks, “It’s worth knowing about ten times as much as you ever use, so you can move freely.”

I then I stitch these details into a single bolt of cloth. My goal is to have all these images and anecdotes fit seamlessly together, even though I’m pulling from very disparate places. The challenge is to imagine a scenario in which they coexist in a dramatically interesting way that does not feel overly contrived or convenient.

Steve Gentile, animator
In the case of my most recently finished animated film, A Pirate Named Ned, the research found me. I was just trying to escape the idea of “reading for a purpose” because I had just finished a film about Emily Dickinson, and that involved extensive research. So I started reading about pirates just for fun. That turned into a short, animated film by accident, and I swear, the research made me do it.

Typically with film & animation, I need to become a semi-expert on the topic at hand, which means a lot of reading. Scholarly researchers who write biographies usually have more constraints with format and also the audience they intend to reach. With film, and especially animation, there’s an opportunity to take more risks, so I try to run to the margins of information. I’ve probably chased down more interesting information from footnotes and appendices than in the actual body of the texts.

Time-based media is not really the most efficient way to convey a mountain of facts and information. Writing is better suited for that. It’s hard to convey every detail of every story without putting the viewer to sleep, so a lot of the stories that I think are really neat sometimes don’t make it into a film. This is o.k. – those ideas can work their way into how a character is drawn, or how they move – how they’re animated. That’s an advantage animation has over writing.

Emily Lombardo, visual artist
When I decide to take on a project that is in direct relationship to another work of art or historical moment, I dive into research like a newly awakened conspiracy theorist. I feverishly comb the Internet for articles, links, books, interviews and documentaries. With The Caprichos, I had 80 plates to decode which Goya had made purposefully ambiguous to fly under the radar of the Spanish Monarchy. However in order for me to be able to recode and create a new independent body of work, it is important for me to step outside of the research to be able to make room for fantasy and a new narrative. The research serves as a solid point of departure where parallels and differences are revealed in my relationship with the reference. For me the research is the love affair, and the work comes after the break up. One can see the final effects of my research in the crafting of the works. This means that if I choose to appropriate a work of art that is etching I will take painstaking measures to accomplish the work in the traditional method of the artist I am referencing. By paying homage to the craftsmanship of the previous work, the audience is free to discuss why the work was made rather than how.

Azadeh Tajpour, visual artist
Research has been an essential and often the most time consuming part of my art making process. My installations of paintings, drawings, prints, and video have all been based on images or footages found within an area of curiosity, followed by further research of the subject, imagery, and the ways of representation.

Currently, I am studying a huge photo album from the 19th c., which I have been amazed not only by the photographs and their variety of genres, but also by their arrangements, and the ethnographic style of documentation. I read the textual narrative and look at their relationship with the photographs. Even though I have some vague ideas, mostly visual, the final outcome is uncertain, which can be frightening so keeping faith in the process is crucial. The next step would be to go back and look at my notes and selected images, with either a clearer sense of the direction, or just a narrower focus; this step might be repeated again and again. Research, brainstorming, drawing charts, and possible conversations will help me to progress. After all, maybe we are all doing what Michelangelo had mentioned, discovering the statue inside of the stone block by carving and carving.


Related reading: What do we owe to history in our art?

Claire Beckett is a photographer whose solo exhibition The Converts is on view at Carroll & Sons Gallery through May 28 (opening reception May 6, 2016, 5:30-7:30 pm. She also has work in the The Outwin: American Portraiture Today exhibition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, through 2016.

Steve Gentile is an animator, documentary filmmaker, and Professor of Animation at Massachusetts College of Art & Design. His current project, “Chateau au Go Go,” is an animated film that uses the images from wine corks to make a kinetic statement about the human history of control over nature. The research involved the opening of a lot of wine bottles.

Emily Lombardo is a visual artist who applies her vast knowledge of sculpture and print across a wide range of conceptual projects.

Azadeh Tajpour is a visual artist working in various media. She recently exhibited art based on found footage and archival photos at the Hollister Gallery of Babson College, and earlier this year, she was in a group show at the Walter Feldman Gallery and had a residency at PLAYA in Summerlake, Oregon.

Cam Terwilliger is the 2015/2016 winner of the Historical Novel Society’s New Novel Award and is currently the Tickner Writing Fellow at Gilman School in Baltimore. From May 2 to May 6, he is teaching a one-week intensive online course on Flash Fiction through the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.

Fellows Notes – May 16

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

In May’s news from MCC Artist Fellows/Finalists: books, pop-up shows, crowdfunding campaigns, Spring arts festivals, and excellence aplenty.

Camilo Ramirez, from the project THE GULF

The Massachusetts Poetry Festival 2016 (4/29-5/1) in downtown Salem is a festival of readings, workshops, talks, and other poetry-related events, many featuring past awardees of MCC’s Artist Fellowships Program – read more.

John Cameron and Jennifer McCurdy were both featured in the Smithsonian Craft Show in April.

At the Independent Film Festival Boston (4/27-5/4), Mary Jane Doherty screens Primaria, Michal Goldman screens Nasser’s Republic, Jesse Kreitzer screens Black Canaries, and James Rutenbeck screens Class of ’27. Also, Gabriel Polonsky‘s Release from Reason and Kathryn Ramey‘s The Empty Sign are part of the Mass Works-in-Progress Competition.

Flash Forward Festival Boston is an 8-day photography festival (5/1-5/8) of exhibitions, events, talks, and more. Since one of its primary focuses is New England photography, it’s no surprise that the lots of artists who’ve received MCC Artist Fellowship awards are featured in events: Stella Johnson and Greer Muldowney are in Art/Document (5/3, 5:30-7, Lesley Univeristy’s Lunder Arts Center); Tsar Fedorsky, Michael Joseph, Sarah Malakoff, and Toni Pepe are in the Photographic Resource Center’s Exposure (opening reception 5/5, 5-8 PM); Archiv* (opening reception 5/6, 6-9 PM, Gallery Kayafas) is a solo exhibition of work by Matthew Gamber; Eric Gottesman, Justin Kimball, and Rania Matar are in A Fragile Balance (opening reception 5/6, 6-9 PM, Fort Point Arts Community Gallery); and Stephen Sheffield, Ben Sloat, and Stephen Tourlentes are in [Photo]gogues: New England at Layfayette City Center Passageway (thru 8/26).


Amy Archambault has a solo exhibition at Boston Sculptors Gallery, Imaginate (5/4-6/5, opening reception 5/15, 4-7 PM, artist talk 3-4 PM).

Claire Beckett‘s solo exhibition The Converts is on view at Carroll & Sons Gallery through May 28 (thru 5/28, opening reception 5/6, 5:30-7:30 pm). She also has work in the The Outwin: American Portraiture Today exhibition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, through 2016.

Sean Downey is exhibiting in the group show Interiors at Dorchester Art Project (thru 5/21).

Samantha Fields gives an artist talk, When Things Touch, at Essex Art Center (5/6, 5 PM). This month, she’s exhibiting in CounterCraft: Voices of the Indie Craft Community at Fuller Craft Museum (5/7-7/10, reception 5/7, 2-5 PM) and in Flow at Nave Gallery in Somerville (thru 5/21).

Nona Hershey is exhibiting a new body of work, sublime@subliminal at Soprafina Gallery in Boston (thru 5/28, artists reception 5/6, 5:30).

Jared Katsiane‘s film Big Willow was awarded first place at the 7th Sustainability Shorts Film Competition at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Greensboro. The film has screened at over 100 international festivals.

Danielle Legros Georges, the Boston Poet Laureate, reads from her poetry collection The Dear Remote Nearness of You, reads at Boston Public Library on 5/15, 2-4 PM, in an event co-sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of Arts & Culture.

Scott Listfield has his first London solo exhibition, An American Astronaut in London, at StolenSpace Gallery (5/5-5/29). Read his interview with the gallery. Also, he curated an exhibition for Gauntlet Gallery in San Francisco, Vestiges: Scott Listfield & Friends II (thru 5/12). The show includes past MCC Traditional Master Artist Josh Luke.

Melinda Lopez‘s Playwright Residency at the Huntington Theatre will have renewed funding from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, which recently announced a new round of national playwright residencies. Melinda’s residency at Huntington was featured in MCC’s 40 Years of Fellowships project.

Stefanie Lubkowski was commissioned to write Circles Circling, a three movement piece for the Charles River Wind Ensemble. The first movement will be premiered on their Boston, You’re My Home program (5/15, 3 PM, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in Lexington). The concert is free and includes works by Michael Gandolfi, Charles Ives, and John Mackey.

Congratulations to Taylor Mac, who is among this year’s Guggenheim Fellows. Also, Taylor Mac will have an upcoming residency at HERE Arts Center, funded by the Mellon Foundation.

Todd McKie has a solo show, Suitable for Framing, at Gallery NAGA (thru 5/28, opening reception 5/6, 6-8 PM).

Nathalie Miebach has work in Interconnections: the Language of Basketry at Hunterdon Art Museum in Clinton, NJ (5/15-9/4). Also, she is Artist-in-Residence at the Jentel Arts Residency Program in Wyoming, in May.

Ethan Murrow is currently at work on preparing for a large-scale wall drawing for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, FL (7/16-10/30). His new children’s book The Whale, created in collaboration with his wife Vita Murrow, is now available. Previously, Ethan published a monograph with German art book publisher Hatje Cantz.

Anne Neely has a solo show, Ireland: Place and Ritual at the Paul Dietrich Gallery (thru 7/8).

Lisa Olivieri was featured on WGBH’s Greater Boston discussing her documentary Blindsided. The film will screen in the My True Colors Film Festival in NYC in June.

Camilo Ramirez has a solo exhibition of photographs, The Gulf at ArtsWorcester (opening reception 5/6 6-8 PM).

Anna Ross has a new chapbook, Figuring, to be released by Bull City Press in May. She was interviewed about her poetry by the blog Speaking of Marvels.

James Rutenbeck, along with screening a film in the Independent Film Festival Boston (see above), has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support his film-in-progress, The Clemente Project. Read about it on ArtSake.

Leslie Sills has an exhibit of figurative sculpture Personnages at Colo Colo Gallery in New Bedford (thru 5/12).

Congratulations to Cam Terwilliger, the 2015/2016 winner of the Historical Novel Society’s New Novel Award.

Amber Davis Tourlentes has photography in Grounded at Boston Cyberarts Gallery (5/14-6/16. opening reception 5/13 6-8 PM).

Hannah Verlin has a site-specific installation, Remnants, at the Simmons College Trustman Art Gallery (thru 5/25).

Helena Wurzel is in a two-person pop-up exhibition (with Crystalle Lacouture), called Let’s Talk about the Weather, at Lacouture Studio in Wellesley (5/21 reception, 6-8 PM, 5/22 open house, 12-4 PM).

Read past Fellows Notes. If you’re a past fellow/finalist with news, let us know.

Image: Camilo Ramirez, from the project THE GULF.

James Rutenbeck on The Clemente Project

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

James Rutenbeck‘s latest film-in-progress, The Clemente Project, explores the The Clemente Course in the Humanities, a tuition-free, college-level course targeting adults from disadvantaged backgrounds. The film tells the stories of participants in Dorchester, such as Kafi Dixon, a recently evicted MBTA bus driver, and Carl Chandler, a father/grandfather/mentor in a struggling neighborhood.

James, a past awardee of MCC’s Artist Fellowships Program, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the project. We asked him about the film, the campaign, and his career listening to – and sharing – voices seldom heard in film.

YouTube Preview Image

Can you talk about the trajectory of The Clemente Project – its origins, its development, and where you hope to see it go?
I heard a Clemente graduate speak at a dinner a few years ago and I, along with everyone else in the crowd, was absolutely blown away by her. The Clemente Course in the Humanities is a rigorous, college-level night course for low-income adults in 19 cities around the world. The way she talked about how immersion in the humanities had changed her life got me thinking about the Clemente Course as a film idea. Mass Humanities came in as first funder, followed closely by the LEF Moving Image Fund, two foundations that had supported my film Scenes from a Parish. This meant we could start filming classes in Dorchester in October 2014. Over time Carl Chandler and Kafi Dixon have emerged as the kind of indelible characters one looks for in making these kinds of films. I anticipate filming and editing over the next year to continue keeping pace with Kafi and Carl’s stories.

Why are you choosing to crowdfund the project?
Mostly out of desperation – this is a tough film to pitch to funders because it’s complicated, and the outcomes are not obvious. We’ve been filming for the last eighteen months, and the characters’ stories are unfolding. We’re getting closer though, and once I have an assembly or rough cut, I’ll feel ready to approach some foundations that have supported my work in the past.

The Hatchfund goal is modest – just enough to keep us up and running at this critical moment. Every dollar will go to paying crew. That said, I’m not really comfortable with crowdfunding and don’t believe it’s a sustainable way to make films. And there’s definitely Kickstarter fatigue in the air. When the first contribution came in, my first impulse was to send Jack Cheng‘s check back to him.

I’m curious about the idea of “responsibility” as relates to the real people in your films. How does responsibility affect the way you work, at each step in the process?
I seek to give a voice to undervalued people – not unlike the Clemente model of creating a space for people to bring their life experience into a Socratic dialogue about history, philosophy and literature, or the research approach of social historians. To that end, I have to be in an honest relationship with the characters of the film. I need to understand, as best I can, how they experience the world, and that means listening closely. Not inserting myself constantly – just shutting up and listening.

I’ve realized I’m living in parallel universe with Carl and Kafi. When Kafi asked me to observe her meeting with Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership, a meeting that could determine whether or not she would end up homeless, she told me, “This is your trip to Taiwan.”

The question of responsibility is a deep one, especially when the people you are filming are living so close to the edge. I’ve been transparent with Carl and Kafi about my intentions, and they are intelligent people who push back when they’re not comfortable with what I’m suggesting. They understand the implications of what we’re doing and have accepted the risk of becoming film characters.

That said no one ever really knows how what is recorded digitally will be shaped behind cutting room doors. This is a responsibility I don’t take lightly. What ends up on screen is my understanding of what happened, and that filter is flawed. I’m stating the obvious now.

And with this film, racial undercurrents are always present. Executive Producer Llewellyn Smith, an accomplished filmmaker and African-American who grew up in Dorchester, helps me keep perspective.

Do you maintain relationships with your films’ subjects after the films are completed?
Sometime it’s clear that the relationship was based on the heightened experience of making a film together; in other cases, it’s more than that – a lifelong friendship. Sometimes I may want to continue a relationship, but they may not. It’s a two-way street! I do have a bunch of friends, many on Facebook, from films I made many years ago.

Still from SCENES FROM A PARISH by James Rutenbeck (2009)

Am I correct that you studied film at MIT? How did that experience shape your filmmaking style? Your career?
I’d learned about the MIT Film Section during a month-long seminar with Jean Rouch in 1978. It was a studio-based program – students and teachers were always heading out to shoot films, and filmmakers came from around the world to screen their films in classes and at Monday Night Screenings. For a small town Iowa kid, being part of it all was exciting and transformative. I’ve supported my family with dozens of editing and producing jobs over the years, and I wouldn’t have been able to hold onto an aesthetic that feels like my own if I hadn’t had that formative time at MIT.

I believe a non-fiction film, at least the kind we made at MIT, is an entity with a life of its own. It will reveal itself over time. You have to be patient and open to what might happen next and where it will lead you. That was a principle of Ricky Leacock’s that has stuck with me. I’m a spiritual person, and it’s how I see the world anyway. My life has been disrupted by harrowing life events that have turned out be absolutely transforming.

What, if anything, is the throughline that connects the subjects you’ve explored in your films throughout your career?
Some of the people in my films have been badly bruised by savage capitalism; others are vulnerable people who are in one way or another excluded from society. Being the father of a non-speaking autistic son has made a deep imprint on me. Twenty-six years spent with Anthony at home and out in the world, endless hours speculating about how he might be experiencing his day and being challenged later by reading his eloquent writing about his experience, have made me acutely aware of people who live as outsiders.

The films I make are all personal, but some are more political than others – The Clemente Project is inherently political, dealing as it does with poor people living in a city with the highest rate of inequality in the U.S.

What other artists, in film or otherwise, interest and inspire you?
I struggle to read but love books. I am a big fan of Marilynne Robinson, whose novel Lila played in a loop in my car for several months. As I listened over and over, it began to feel like a folk song. I’ve been reading Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, a non-fiction that feels like a novel – The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace is like that too. I also love theatre – a Steppenwolf performance of Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer from many years ago is lodged forever inside me.

I am lucky to have long-standing friendships with some remarkable artists, like the deeply committed political filmmaker John Gianvito and Rob Todd, whose experimental films place a primacy on image. I love Alexandra Anthony’s Lost in the Bewilderness and whatever Steve Ascher and Jeannie Jordan are doing. As I’ve been working on The Clemente Project, I’ve been thinking a lot about Richard Broadman, a Boston documentarian who taught me how to sync 16 mm dailies when I was his intern many years ago. Boston is a place where a deep engagement with films is on-going. I like the small town feel of the place.

What’s the most surprising response to your films you’ve ever received?
I worked on my last film (Scenes from a Parish) for five years, and when it premiered at the MFA, the press response was strong. But the festivals largely rejected the film. Every time I’d get a rejection, it felt like someone had punched me in the stomach – just an awful feeling. But being leveled over and over again was good for me. I’m not looking for approval or attention anymore. If it comes my way, that’s a nice surprise, but it feels fleeting. When I received word that Class of ’27 would be in the IFFB line up this year, I thought it was sent to the wrong filmmaker.

Making films, telling the stories of people who are voiceless is really a vocation, and the work itself, however overwhelming or uncertain it can feel at times, is the ultimately its own reward.


The Clemente Project will be crowfunding on Hatchfund through July 10, 2016.

Read James Rutenbeck in the ArtSake discussion How Does Place Impact Your Art?

James Rutenbeck (MCC Film & Video Finalist ’11) is an independent producer, editor, and filmmaker at Lost Nation Pictures. His films have been broadcasted widely and have screened at museums and festivals throughout the world. He is currently Executive Producer of Class of ’27, a series of three short films about the lives of very young children in remote parts of rural America, which will have its world premiere at the Independent Film Festival Boston April 3-May 1, 2016.

How Do You Approach the Business of Art?

Friday, April 1st, 2016

Periodically, we pose a question to artists about an issue they face in their work and lives.

It can be challenging to balance artistic creation with the business, financial, or other career aspects of artists’ work. Artists are encouraged to see their art career as a “business” – but how does that translate into practice? We asked artists in different disciplines, What is your approach to the business of art, and how has it changed over time?

Part two of a two-part discussion.

Jake Fried, animator
Ultimately, my experimental animations must transcend financial concerns, otherwise they become something else for someone else. Luckily, making deeply personal work that I believe in has increasingly led to new and rewarding paid opportunities.

My main source of income is teaching, mostly at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. This past year I have created commissioned work for Adult Swim and the Marionette Record label, among others. I have screened my films at many international festivals, gallery shows and artist talks that provide awards and fees. And finally I’ve been awarded grants and fellowships, including one recently in Film & Video from the MCC.

As much as possible I want my artistic and financial success to stem directly from being true to my vision – it’s a hustle and I’m always chasing new opportunities to make this happen, but it’s worth it to make the work I believe in.

Jenine Shereos, LEAF (2013), human hair, 5x3 in, photo by Robert Diamante

Jenine Shereos, sculptor/installation artist
A few years ago, some of my work was featured on a popular art and design blog. I received a lot of exposure from this, and it had a ripple effect over the years as people continued to share the images on social media and other online venues. Many positive opportunities arose from this publicity, but it was definitely a learning experience as well. I had people contact me with bizarre commission requests, dealt with copyright issues, and even had an offer from Ripley’s Believe it or Not! This experience taught me the importance of being my own agent. To say no to things that don’t fit with my vision and to seek out the opportunities that I feel will enhance my career as an artist. I spend a lot of time researching residencies, grants, and other opportunities online. Recently, artist residencies have played a significant role in my artistic journey and have afforded me time away to focus on my art.

Similar to my artistic practice, I see the business aspect of my work as an organic process that continues to grow and evolve over time. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to support myself fully from my art, but the obstacles keep me thinking creatively. Sometimes I feel frustrated by a sense of disconnection in my life, although I know I am not alone and many artists face the same struggle. On the one hand, my work has been shown internationally in museums and included in major publications. At the same time, I am nearing forty and waiting tables while piecing together odd jobs. Recently, I was sharing my frustrations with a friend and he asked if there was anyone I know personally who is making their living exclusively as an artist who I could look to as a model. After thinking through the many artists I have met over the years, I couldn’t think of a single one. I am slowly realizing that maybe this isn’t necessarily the end goal. I try to focus on the fact that I love making art and know I will always find a way to continue to do so against any odds.

Publicity photo from THE LAUNCH PRIZE, written by MJ Halberstadt, produced March 2016 at the Calderwood Pavilion of the Boston Center for the Arts, directed by Tiffany Nichole Greene, featuring Katharine Chen Lerner, Bari Robinson, John Tracey, and Angela K Thomas

MJ Halberstadt, playwright
People joke that Masters Programs in playwriting are “red headed stepchildren” that can’t be boxed neatly into more easily articulable Theatre or Creative Writing programs. Similarly, reconciling playwriting within the framework of a business model presents questions and problems. On one hand, I’m an artist-for-hire because different companies present my work. When they do, I am not the play’s “producer.” On the other hand, I am a free-lancer because I am the sole proprietor of my own playwriting “business.” The minimum viable product of what I can produce is a script, not a play, which is not sellable by itself – except, arguably, in the case of having the script published. It becomes necessary to tease apart distinctions, especially between my script and a company’s production of it. Combined, they make the product (a “play”) but assigning value to my part in it is tricky, especially when all of the theatre world is starving for monetary resources and many of the producers of my work are personal friends. I’m not a playwright for gain; in fact, only about a dozen American playwrights sustain themselves entirely off royalties. That’s why I have a totally unrelated day job at present; this is getting more and more difficult to reconcile since my playwriting “career” demands more of me each year.

[MJ takes a sip from a glass of whiskey.]

If my “brand” has “worth,” it’s not quantifiable. If anything, I’m building up artistic capital through making myself known and archiving reviews and, yes, “networking.” The hope is that it’ll pay off if and when I sell a TV pilot or get a job teaching playwriting.

[MJ takes another – longer – sip.]


Related reading: Who Is Your Audience? and How Do You Define Success as an Artist?

Jake Fried ( is an experimental animator whose work has shown on Carton Network’s Adult Swim, at the Tate Modern, in the Sundance Film Festival, and many other festivals and venues. He recently screened work in the Boston Underground Film Festival and has upcoming screenings at the Ashland Independent Film Festival, the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, and the Melbourne International Animation Festival.

MJ Halberstadt’s ( new play is That Time the House Burned Down, produced by Fresh Ink Theatre at Boston Playwrights Theatre April 8-23. His play The Launch Prize was produced by Bridge Rep in Boston in March ’16 (read a great review in the Boston Globe). In February, he was profiled by Emerson College, and he wrote about race and privilege in theatre for HowlRound. In 2014, he was one of the artists selected to participate in Assets for Artists, a program supporting artists through financial and business training opportunities and matched savings.

Jenine Shereos ( is a sculptor and installation artist specializing in fiber and textile processes. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including in France, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Portugal, Hungary, Austria, and Canada, and has been published in the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Huffington Post, Make Magazine, and and the compendium Textiles: The Art of Mankind. Her work is currently on view at Centraal Museum in Utrecht, Netherlands, and in 2017, she will have a solo show at the Hampden Gallery at UMass Amherst.

Images and Media: BRAIN LAPSE by Jake Fried; Jenine Shereos, LEAF (2013), human hair, 5×3 in, photo by Robert Diamante; publicity photo from THE LAUNCH PRIZE, written by MJ Halberstadt, produced March 2016 at the Calderwood Pavilion of the Boston Center for the Arts, directed by Tiffany Nichole Greene, featuring Katharine Chen Lerner, Bari Robinson, John Tracey, and Angela K Thomas.