Utah-based artist Casey Jex Smith shared a life timeline showing his time to make art compared to career and family benchmarks, student loan debt, and gallery representation.
Timeline by artist Casey Jex Smith, courtesy of the artist
He contextualized it with:
Really satisfying to create. Just trying to communicate the trade offs in life when trying to be an artist. Artists need more data points to make their decisions —more transparency and honesty from institutions they trust.
I’m always for artists having more information, being more transparent, and self-aware of their conditions in a way that is informative. This is a great visualization and generous gesture of transparency.
What I noticed about Casey’s data visualization:
- The sharp drops in time available for art after each child was born, and the cumulative effects of reducing his time.
- Actually, I’m impressed he’s still able to find 10 hours per week for art.
- The staggering amount of student debt from the MFA from SFAI. How loan interest grew or stabilized the debt amount while teaching, and a reduction in the balance starts only after working at a tech company.
- Some friends are involved in organizing adjunct instructors for fair pay at art schools—this really puts teachers’ sacrifices in perspective.
- In the underwear-shaped part of the timeline (ha!), he had up to four galleries representing him. Each relationship lasted during a limited, post-grad-school period—the total interval almost equal to the time passed since then.
- When I went to grad school, there was a sense that having a gallery represent you was like being “saved”—you’d be set up, and your precariousness would become limited. But that seems like setting yourself up for disappointment. Some galleries close, some relationships don’t work out. Artists are responsible for sustaining our own lifelong practices.
This is a really interesting exercise, and I hope it inspires other artists to make their own visualizations. They could be following Casey’s example, or about other aspects of their life as an artist.
For more inspiration, see the zine I made in 2015 based on an Artist’s Personal Impacts Survey I conducted.
Learn more about Casey’s work at caseyjexsmith.com. Thanks, Casey, for sharing your timeline with me and other artists!
It’s not often that major media covers an artist-in-residence program, or the social impact of the resulting public artworks.
This is an interesting profile of a small community in Georgia, portraits of local residents by artist-in-residence Mary Beth Meehan, and the conversations about belonging and controversies around Islamophobia that they sparked.
Read “How 17 Outsize Portraits Rattled a Small Southern Town” by Audra D. S. Burch, NY Times, January 19, 2020.
If you’re interested, learn more about the Newnan residency program. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
About the first third of a nine-month residency.
In October, I started the 2019-2020 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Artist-in-Residence program. It’s a huge honor. I first applied like 10 years ago. The application pool is quite competitive. I’m very humbled and grateful that it’s working out this year.
This year’s Workspace residents receive:
- A semi-private studio space.
- Weekly salon evenings consisting of studio visits with curators and arts professionals, studio visits with the cohort, professional development workshops, cohort-led activities, and more.
- An open studio in June 2020.
- A materials stipend of $1,300.
This is pretty typical of the program, with some variation in the fee depending on funding, and slight differences in timeline and studio space, depending on the space available.
This year’s cohort consists of 10 visual artists (learn more on lmcc.net). (The number of residents depends on the space available. LMCC residency programs are usually open to dance, theater, and literary arts, too; check for next year’s application in mid-January 2020.) An on-site assistant, who was a Workspace resident last year, also has a studio.
I really like the cohort! It’s an interesting group of artists working in sculpture, installation, performance, works on paper, and textiles. My cohorts are clearly invested in their practices and in building a respectful, serious, and friendly community.
The program is managed by Bora Kim. Other LMCC staff and interns help out with the program as well as marketing and events.
Building & Location
The studio is located in a corporate building near Wall Street. The building itself is quite impressive. The guards and maintenance team are friendly and helpful. It’s secure and clean.
LMCC encourages residents to learn more about lower Manhattan. One salon evenings was a walking tour led by a member of the city’s landmarks commission. I especially loved visiting 70 Pine, a stellar example of Art Deco. (As a landmarked building, there is a public mandate to make the lobby accessible to the public. Anyone can visit. Don’t miss the bas-relief on the elevator doors.) I’ve also been going on walks, exploring Oculus, the 9/11 Memorial, and longtime neighborhood businesses.
The transportation options are ridiculously convenient: the N/W, 1, and 4/5 subway stations are all very close. I’ve also taken the ferry, rode Citibike, and walked to the studio from Queens.
The cohort shares a large carpeted office space, which is divided into studios with tension-pole partitions sheathed with Homasote.
My studio is about 16′ long by 8′ wide. It’s sunny, with a large window facing east. LMCC provided two work tables and two office chairs.
Two residents have enclosed offices with glass doors. In a large open space in the center, we’ve put a table and chairs to gather for meals. There’s also smaller lounge areas and a conference room. There’s a kitchen with a fridge, electric kettle, microwave, dishes, silverware, and sink (there is no separate work sink). There is a computer and scanner/printer available (it’s been useful for me lately for making copies of drawings to do quick color studies). Residents occasionally work in common spaces when they need to spread out. It feels like there’s plenty of space.
Having an art studio in a corporate building entails a little extra coordination when moving large items in or out, and using the one small, staff-operated freight elevator. LMCC has a dolly we can borrow, which helps.
Our first day was October 7. We received immediately received IDs, access codes, and permission to move in. (I love it when there’s no delay!) The program ends after the open studios at the end of June 2020.
Residents have 24/7 access to space.
Salon evenings are held weekly, except on holidays. I’m happy to be there each week, especially because a former resident told me about how much he looked forward to them. There’s a great variety of programming and cohort-building activities.
I really like the program for its combination of space and programmatic support. They invest in community-building. The first salon evening was speed intros, where residents got to introduce ourselves and our practices to each other via projected images of our work. Some LMCC staff attended too (which is nice considering that it’s after work for them). LMCC often supplies refreshments, which help lend conviviality.
LMCC asked us to suggest potential guests to invite for studio visits. The final line-up includes many curators from major NYC institutions. Studio visit evenings usually feature a few guests. Each guest are scheduled for four, thirty-minute, one-on-one visits with residents. Residents may have one to three visits per evening. When you aren’t paired with an outside guest, you do studio visits with other cohort members.
Early in the program, when a salon evening was canceled due to a holiday, I asked the cohort if they’d like to have a potluck anyway. We did. It was fun to get to know the other artists in a more relaxed setting. I’m really grateful everyone shares an interest in getting to know and support each other.
I had the opportunity to lead an activity one salon evening. I made up an activity called Skill Share Pictionary (learn more on my Glint Project Instagram takeover).
Fellow resident Naomi Safran-Hon initiated the idea of having a group exhibition in the foyer. It was pretty impressive that the cohort organized our group show in about 20 minutes. I appreciate our group’s cooperation, initiative, and flexibility.
Here’s why I applied, as written my application. (My brevity is due to LMCC’s strict word count limits.)
I’ll develop new works exploring resilience, vulnerability, authenticity, and connectedness.
I’ll research and present findings via calligraphy, sign painting, and drawings. Then, I’ll create garments with pockets that reveal or secure aspects of one’s identity, and hybrid books-games-interactive objects in textiles and paper for fostering brave spaces.
I need different perspectives to ground these subjective concepts, and mutual support and rigorous feedback.
It’s time to grow my craftsmanship, my fluidity between thinking and making, and my ethics of social engagement.
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS?
To grow. To do my part to cultivate authenticity, vulnerability and connectedness.
What Have I Been Up To?
I started by trying to define what I meant by resilience, and how it is connected to authenticity and vulnerability. These latter two concepts are things I kept thinking about in my projects on belonging. Being able to express yourself authentically, and being able to be vulnerable, were often characteristic of spaces of belonging. At the same time, belonging allows you to be more vulnerable, and more authentic.
I have been working and re-working a large mind-map, trying to see these connections and fill in what else I know about related concepts about hope, growth mindset, belonging, sports psychology, shame, etc.
I’ve also been reading more mass market books by psychologists with academic affiliations or longtime clinical practices. I’m proud to say that this year I’ve been more intentional about supporting indie booksellers and libraries.
I read Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch, a longtime NYC therapist. I loved that it explains the logical sources behind squishy feelings (violation of rights results in anger, or a fear of violating other’s rights or standards results in shame) and logical responses to those feelings (reflective writing exercises that reframe situations, or deliberate, detailed strategies to repair relationships). (I first came across this book at the San Francisco Public Library, in the Chinese section. I wish more mental health books were translated into different languages. BTW the English version is available at the Queens Public Library.)
My suspicion that resilience relates to optimism was validated when I stumbled upon The Resilience Factor by Karen Reivich, PhD and Andrew Shatté, PhD via the Queens Library. Reivich and Shatté were students of Martin Seligman, whose book on optimism was the first positive psychology book I ever read, way back in 2010. Reivich and Shatté build upon Seligman’s explanatory style—the idea that people explain adversities with beliefs, which shape consequences or actions, therefore different responses become possible by examining the beliefs. This book organizes a lot of mental habits and strategies that I find insightful and worthy of sharing. I’ve been working on some drawings (see a few sketches on Instagram), with my Positive Signs series as an early predecessor.
I’m also reading Mindset by Carol Dweck, PhD (which I got with credit from selling books at the Strand). This is book has had a huge influence on education and I’ve been meaning to read it for a while. People with growth mindsets are willing to take risks in order to grow. People with fixed mindsets are afraid to be exposed as inadequate. I’m starting to see through-lines between optimism, resilience, vulnerability, and courage.
To take a break from reading, I practiced a lot of hand lettering and calligraphy using markers, dip pens, and brushes. It was fun to dive into different letterforms (my reference book: Hand Lettering by Thy Doan, also from the Strand).
All this note-taking, lettering practice, and drawing added up into completing a 250-page sketchbook in two months—a record time for me.
My proposal mentioned sewing. I have some ideas about textiles and garments. I’m letting those ideas marinate as I synthesize all this information and lettering forms. My sewing machine and materials are at the studio, and I’m looking forward to diving in over the next six months.
Lighthouse Works’ fellowship program received over 500 applications for 15 fellowships awarded for the upcoming Spring and Summer.
Selected artists comprise less than 1:33, or 3% of applicants.
See all Art Competition Odds.
Seven things I’m loving right now.
The simultaneous experience of looking, reading, and thinking in this mostly-hand-lettered and hand-drawn notebook explaining her curriculum and lessons on leading classes combining image and word made me want to reach out for my notebook and pencils and fill every page with abandon. I’ve been using exercises in my own studio to loosen up, and filing away other ideas to try with future workshop participants. Syllabus is published by the illustrious Drawn and Quarterly. I am working my way through it, to savor each section.
You can see Lynda Barry’s Face Jam Exercise on the NewYorker.com. It’s from another book of Barry’s, Making Comics.
2. Parasite (Bong Joon-Ho)
You don’t need me to tell you that Parasite is masterful, and very much worth viewing on the big screen. I’ll say it anyway, since I’ve been enjoying more films lately, especially films by people of color. It’s also really cool to see a foreign language film embraced by US audiences in record-breaking numbers.
3. Blown Away
This Canadian reality TV series was released on Netflix this summer, and I just binge-watched it this week. Despite the fact that it’s a formulaic competition show with goofy hosts and oddball challenges, I loved it.
There have been other artist reality shows before, but none have necessarily revealed so much craft and skill. My heart went out to the glassblowers. Many were extremely skilled, and really deserved honors for their accomplishments, which were not afforded by the structure of the show.
My only other qualm is that the show didn’t show enough glassblowing technique continuously. They could have followed each individual project from start to finish for a half an hour and I would have loved every minute. The makers are casting for season 2. I hope they reconsider having students as assistants—it’s far too much pressure on the competitors and the students.
Blown Away made me yearn to blow glass again. I only did hot glass for two semesters in undergrad. It’s very addictive, like wheel throwing—once you get the bug, you just want to be blowing glass, challenging yourself, and being in the zone all the time. I miss that sense of being in sync with the material. Also, there were tools and techniques I never saw as a beginner glassblower that I wanted to try. I never pulled cane, or used a soffietta!
The other week I was using markers from my set of 36 Pentel markers, when I realized that I’ve probably had this set of markers since 2015 or 2014. That would make these markers nearly 5 years old. All of the markers are still going strong. Granted, I don’t use them often, and usually only in small bursts for lettering, not for coloring. But still, that’s pretty impressive. I’ve had many ballpoint pens, gel pens, and calligraphy markers dry out or stop working; it’s refreshing when art supplies last.
I just found, that on the Pentel site, you can purchase individual markers for 99¢ each. So even if one of the colors did run dry, you could replace it and not have a horrible gap tooth in your rainbow palette.
Mel Day is a California-based artist who as been collecting videos of individuals singing and compiling them into installations. She’s been scaling up (way up!) lately, by partnering with San José Athletics, Marching Band, Choirs, athletes, fans, students and community allies to create a new, “evolving series of participatory massed choral video works and half-time live singing events” around Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.”
You can contribute by recording your video from the comfort of your own home. You don’t have to be a “singer” to sing! Learn more at wallofsongproject.com.
6. Museum of Capitalism at the New School, on view through December 10
Spoiler alert: The Museum of Capitalism is a speculative project that invited artists to imagine the artifacts leftover from capitalism in a post-capitalist future. I saw the original iteration in a sprawling Oakland building a few years back. (I am still moved by Packard Jenning’s installation of a guided meditation for riot police de-escalation.)
When I visited the exhibition, it felt to me that I hadn’t seen anything like it in NYC, that I hadn’t been in conversations in NYC that envisioned post-Capitalist perspectives.
There’s only a few more days to see the show. Find the address and hours here: https://www.museumofcapitalism.org/museum-of-capitalism-new-york-city
7. Batalá NYC
Batalá is an “all women Afro-Brazilian Samba Reggae percussion band. Batalá New York is a part of a global arts project made up of over 30 bands around the world.” I recently heard them play as they accompanied an Afro-Brazilian dance class. Wow! The beat is palpable in your chest. There’s something so cool about seeing women embracing power and massive volume, with unity and coordination. Check out their videos on YouTube.
Batalá NYC are currently raising funds to travel to Brazil. Consider supporting their GoFundMe.