Monday, September 19, 2005

the other side of art

Last Wednesday, I talked to a group of senior art students at UArts. That Monday, my friend and fellow artist and gallery owner, Shelly Spector, asked me if I'd be interested in speaking to a group of students she was teaching. Her class is all about the side of art-making most of us don't enjoy that much: the business end of things. I jumped at the opportunity because there are too many art students who graduate from art schools without much knowledge about the administrative side of being artists. Sure, they might be talented, but can they write an effective artist statement and know how to present their resumés?

Shelly asked me to talk about how my career has grown and how I've come to where I am now. This particular session focused on building an artist resumé. I talked about how I got started showing (cafés and bookstores) and how one thing led to another through my entering various juried exhibitions and other competitions, including the Fleisher Challenge and having my work published in New American Paintings.

When Shelly asked me to talk to her students, I was flattered and nervous at the same time. I've spoken to students in my studio, but this was the first time I was going to speak in a classroom. I was out of my home base and wondered if I could still do what I needed to. The experience was good. I was nervous and it helped that I was sitting in a chair at the front of the class next to Shelly. I felt like I had something to ground me a little. It was a bit intimidating sitting there with all of these expectant eyes on me, waiting for whatever 'wisdom' I had to impart.

Even though I've come to a point in my career where I can speak somewhat authoritively about what I've done and been through as an artist, there was still that sense of 'what the hell am I doing?' while speaking? I tried to make sure I made as much sense as possible, and not stray too far from the topic at hand. The thing that helped me the most was that over the years, I've gotten better at talking about my work as an artist. At one point in the class, Shelly asked me if this was ten years ago, would I have been able to talk about my work in the same way as I can now. The answer was obviously 'no'. Sure, I might have been able to speak about what I was doing, but not in the same way I can now. That has come about only through a lot of hard work on my part and staying engaged with my life as a creative person.

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