Notes on the Bronx Museum Artists in the Marketplace Program

Some reflections on the 13-week professional development AIM program.  

I gained tangible advice and tools.

For example, in the writing workshop led by Martha Schulman, we workshopped our artists’ statements. Martha shared great, mechanical advice for writing (focus on verbs and nouns, use an inverse pyramid model) and strategies for editing (print it out and cut it up, or highlight different things in different colors). My statement was due for an overhaul; have a look at the result.

Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento’s legal and contract workshops were informative, interesting, and immediately useful—they helped me summon the courage to negotiate better terms in a contract. He’s a super engaging speaker and I recommend artists attend his workshops or art law performances anytime you have the chance.

In her funding workshops, Melissa Rachleff gave me great advice for in-kind donations for a project whose budget is only partially funded. She also organized group mock review panels using a criteria-based rating worksheet. It was terrifying yet effective to see proposals from this perspective.

There were other sessions that validated my existing or past practices, and others that my peers found beneficial.

A cohort. Having relocated to NYC in 2010, I wanted to be a part of AIM to gain a sense of community. In this regard, AIM has been a great gift.

This year’s cohort of 36 artists is pretty awesome, for two reasons. It’s diverse: in age, educational background, media, conceptual interests, and geography (recent international transplants, born-and-bred-New Yorkers, artists from across four boroughs, plus Jersey). (It’s also 2/3 women!)

At the same time, everyone is smart and interesting, and their studio practices are advanced.

This combination offers huge potential for rigorous dialogues and cross-pollination.

Though the cohort was split into a Winter and Spring session, we were encouraged to organize visits each other’s studios to get to know each other. This was an opportunity that I didn’t want to let pass, so I started organizing with the help of Maria and Margaret. Everyone was interested and flexible. The dialogues were thoughtful and engaging, and I really hope they continue into the future.

One of the first art world things I did when I moved here was to volunteer at Art in Odd Places. I met and “helped” BROLAB, a collaborative of AIM alumni. Their level of activity is inspiring. I’m eager to see what productive, alternative things can happen among our little group of like-minded, enthusiastic colleagues.

Thanks to Lia Zaloff and Sergio Bessa for their hard work and vision in realizing AIM, and to the Bronx Museum and its funders for making this opportunity possible. And thanks in advance to Hatuey Ramos Fermín and Laura Napier, curators of the Bronx Biennial, for the exhibition to come!

The application for AIM 2015 is now open. The deadline is September 5, 2014. The open call is competitive—good luck!

Art & Development

Points of Reference, June 8, 2014

Insights, artworks, and other recent ignition sparks.

Self-organized Bronx AIM studio visit, at Brian Zegeer's studio at Chashama studios at Brooklyn Army Terminal. Watching Brian's 3D animation/video installation.

AIMers watching Brian Zegeer’s 3D animation/video installation at his Chashama studio at Brooklyn Army Terminal. See clips of Brian’s Book of Khalid project.

Last weekend, I shared my work with fellow Bronx AIM program participants. Among smart, interested friends, I spoke honestly about where I’m at in my studio practice, leading up to current work-in-progress and the questions that surround them.

I got great feedback. It was fantastic. A mutually supportive community can make an incredible difference. So I highly recommend:

Organizing studio visits with likeminded artists.

Though I procrastinate on organizing visits to my studio, the AIM program was a perfect foil for my hang-ups, with the added benefit of learning about great artists’ work too. So, artists: Just do it! Get a group together, set up a schedule—maybe every two weeks or once a month, and create conditions for great conversations to take place! It’s important! If it seems that it’s not a great time, be forgiving—there’s hardly ever a perfect time, so better now than never.

After my visit, I started thinking about:

Not taking myself too seriously.

The tone of my presentation was blunt and vulnerable, but also (sometimes unintentionally) funny. My colleagues really “got” me and where I’m coming from. I’d love it if my audience also had this perspective. I wonder how to incorporate this further into the reading of my work? For starters, it’d help me keep approaching:

Art-making as a way to test ideas.

In grad school, I allowed works to be resolved to varying degrees. Maybe I’ve drifted towards the dominant market-oriented inclination to make things that are more polished, impressive, “accomplished,” and intelligible to selection review committees, gallerists, etc.

So Ernesto Pujol’s writing resonated with me on many fronts:

I… practice with the belief that there is enough art, feeling no pressure to create more art, so what excites me is to create something ambiguous, something liminal, so that it has the effect of art, regardless of its final label.

—Ernesto Pujol, in Mary Jane Jacobs and Jacqueline Baas, eds., Learning Mind: Experience Into Art [Berkeley: UC Press] 2009


Time to re-set.

If I am to re-orient my approach, it’ll make the way I relate to viewers more open-ended. I’ll be able to:

Speak openly about unintended receptions of artworks.

How viewers interact, interpret, and experience the work—in a full range of successes and failures—could be embraced.

We must risk and endure misunderstanding, even by those who supposedly support us, which is the most painful of all misinterpretation, because we still create and promote all this mainly through art world channels.

—Ernesto Pujol, in Learning Mind


Which implies:

Embracing middle grounds

[Artists] should regard ourselves as writers of novels for smaller but more substantial audiences, even as we would like to make them accessible and meaningful to all.

—Ernesto Pujol, in Learning Mind

JHK Activity—Collection & Research on J H Kocman

My influential grad school advisers Ted Purves and the late Steven Lieber helped me stop worrying about making grand statements, and appreciate modest gestures such as ephemera. Just as I was thinking about becoming more process- and less results-oriented, I learned about Ted’s latest project—a blog documenting the works of Czech conceptualist J H Kochman. This work, in particular, exemplifies what I gained from Ted and Steven, and my “un-aspirational” aspirations:

J. H. Kocman, Bipolar Analysis of a Square, offset print, A4, signed/numbered. // Source:

J. H. Kocman, Bipolar Analysis of a Square, offset print, A4, signed/numbered. // Source:

Pae White: In Between the Inside Out

Pae White: In Between the Inside Out, Installation view, Mills College Art Museum, 2009 // Photo: Paul Kuroda // Source:

Pae White: In Between the Inside Out, Installation view, Mills College Art Museum, 2009 // Photo: Paul Kuroda // Source:

Five years later,* still thinking about White’s 3-D rendering video projected inside enclosures made of two-way mirrors. First seen at New Langton Arts (RIP) and Mills College Art Museum.

*Read my enthusiastic 2009 response—sorry about the link-rotted images. (FYI, I’ve improved my image linking now.)

To re-orient to the studio, I’ve enjoyed diving into books by artists. They counterbalance criticism and theory, and can be an antidote to market orientations.

The Human Argument by Agnes Denes

Excited to grow my appreciation of Agnes Denes work with a book of her writings:

The Human Argument, The Writings of Agnes Denes

The Human Argument, The Writings of Agnes Denes

See ArtBook for the description (though it’s out of stock there; I found a used copy on ABEBooks).

Don’t know why I never got around to this one, either. The oversight that shall be redressed shortly.

Allan Kaprow (Jeff Kelley, ed.), Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life

Allan Kaprow (Jeff Kelley, ed.), Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life

A reminder about the centrality of studio practice:

A life of making isn’t a series of shows, or projects, or productions, or things; it is an everyday practice.

…It isn’t necessarily the objects of art in their many forms that we are here to support, it is the possibility of art, the question of art, the place it makes in the culture for those acts which ‘just are’ and, in their being just for the sake of themselves, can open worlds in which we might listen differently.

—Ann Hamilton, in Learning Mind

Hamilton also shared this lovely quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Let me remind the reader that I am only an experimenter. Do not set the least value on what I do, or the least discredit on what I do not, as if I pretended to settle anything as true or false. I unsettle all things. No facts are to me sacred, none are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker with no past.”