Periodically, we pose questions about issues artists face in their work and lives. This month, we’re posing a question to a group of curators, editors, and presenters that we first posed in 2017: If you could convince artists to change ONE thing about the way they approach you/your organization for opportunities, what would it be?
Aynel David Guerra, Curator, Director of AREA CODE Art Fair and A R E A contemporary art gallery
As a gallerist, I frequently receive emails by visual artists seeking exhibition opportunities and/or gallery representation, which in my case, I welcome, and appreciate. However, when doing so, many artists attach random images without providing a statement, missing an opportunity to facilitate a connection with the work. I highly recommend sharing an updated website with high quality photographs of the work or its documentation (ideally images pertaining to a cohesive series), accompanied by a statement that can enhance the value of that body of work. These days, some artists interested in collaborations rely solely on Instagram to share their work. Although the platform is effective to introduce viewers and art lovers to new projects and practices, I value consistency, organization, and a well-written statement when it comes to sharing a portfolio. Also, exploring the gallery’s program, identifying the values of that organization, and finding out whether both parties can be a good fit for each other before stopping by or sending an introductory email, would definitely demonstrate your commitment and vision as a professional artist; but this is ONE other thing to change, and I was asked to mention just ONE! 😉
José Angel Araguz, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, Salamander
I’m going to cheat and offer three. First, there’s the tried and true advice of familiarizing yourself with us as a magazine. This advice is prescriptive only as it pertains to sound literary citizenship; reading is where you begin to engage with other writers and communities. I’ll add that we’re not asking that you try to meet our aesthetics exactly. One of my guiding principles as a writer and editor is to read both for where I’m at and where I’m not. Another piece of advice would be to believe us when we ask you to try us again. There’s a lot of things at play when putting together an issue, and when I make the call to send an encouraging rejection, it’s often because, while the writing itself is solid, the present work might not fit the issue that’s coming together. This leads to my final point: Take a chance on your work. Every submission is an act of faith and belief in your work. As a writer from a marginalized community, I encourage other writers from marginalized communities to take this chance with us.
Randal Fippinger, Visiting Artist Producer and Outreach Manager, Williams College ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance
The overall process of arts fundraising is often called “development.” Building relationships with presenters should be thought of in the same way: you are developing a long-term relationship. Most presenters are not looking for a transactional relationship. They are looking to find ways to connect your work into various parts of their community. It is the rare presenter that only seeks to bring you in for a traditional performance. Even in those instances, the presenter is thinking about which parts of their community would be most engaged with the performance.
A number of years ago, I was on a DanceUSA panel of presenters with the focus of answering artists’ questions about our process. The informal title of the panel was, “Presenters Aren’t Evil.” Far from it. We care deeply about you and your work. We want to ensure it is positioned in a way that best serves you, as well our community. This is a balancing act. The better we know your work the more rewarding the process will be for everyone.
Cynthia Woo, Director, Pao Arts Center
Connect with us earlier! Being an arts and cultural space in Chinatown that strengthens and celebrates Asian Pacific Islander perspectives, we get many requests to work with our community members. The most successful projects are those created in collaboration with our staff, partners, and constituents in open dialogue. Connecting early in your process, with clear objectives, goals, and support requests in mind helps us determine if this project may be a good fit for our constituents. We can also refer you to other community partners with stronger alignment, or artists doing similar work. Seeing us allows us to share best practices that may inform the conception of your project and its process. Pao Arts Center is a hub for creativity activity, connect with us early – we would love to hear about your work!
Beth McLaughlin, Chief Curator of Exhibitions and Collections, Fuller Craft Museum
In the midst of the COVID19 pandemic, I share the same advice I have given throughout my career: when submitting to museums and galleries, invest in professional photography of your work. After all, curators, gallerists, and dealers review hundreds, if not thousands, of objects each year, often making assessments based purely on digital images, and the work needs to make an impact. This holds true now more than ever as the pandemic has restricted studio visits and visitor access to museums.
As a museum curator, I evaluate artworks individually and how they come together in the gallery – connections, pacing, visitor experience, how viewers share space with the objects, etc. With the pandemic came a global shift towards virtual programming, and now I consider how the forms exist on a computer screen in addition to within the physical space. If an artist doesn’t have quality images, it could hinder opportunities. Alas, many artists face financial hardships due to COVID-19 and hiring a professional may be a challenge. But I encourage artists to do their research to find a good, reasonably priced photographer. It will be an important career investment, both now and in the future.
Related Reading: Curators, Editors, and Presenters: Our Advice for Artists from 2017
Write an Artist Statement People Will Want to Read
What Does a Healthy Partnership Between Organizations and Local Artists Look Like?
AREA CODE Art Fair, founded by David Guerra, takes place August 1-31, 2020, online and through decentralized in-person experiences across Boston. The fair will feature works from New England’s most inspiring art galleries, nonprofit organizations, and individual artists without gallery representation.
Currently, A R E A has an exhibition at The Yard in Boston, IN MANUAL MODE (thru July 30).
The Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, MA, reopens to the general public on August 6, 2020. The exhibition Shelter, Place, Social, Distance (on view thru Nov 22) includes work by Jodi Colella (Sculpture/Installation/New Genres Fellow ’19), Cynthia Consentino (Crafts Fellow ’07), Niho Kozuru (Sculpture/Installation/New Genres Fellow ’09), and Megumi Naitoh (Crafts Fellow ’03).
2020/2021 submissions to Salamander of prose and poetry will be accepted beginning October 1, 2020.
Learn more about the ’62 Center for Theater and Dance at Williams College.
Images: Timothy Kadish (Painting Fellow ’14), GIRL (2018), oil on canvas, 24×20 in, exhibiting in IN MANUAL MODE, an A R E A exhibition at The Yard in Boston (thru July 30, 2020); Claudia Olds Goldie (Crafts Finalist ’17), NAVIGATING A DREAM (2014), ceramic, 20x14x10 in. The artist is exhibiting in the 2020 Biennial Members Exhibition at the Fuller Craft Museum (thru Nov 8).