So I just came home from gallery sitting at Art at the Mill in Lafayette, NJ and am still on "cloud nine" after hearing from my sister that my work was selected to be included in NYU's 30th Annual Small Works show in NYC. On the verge of my first inclusion in a NYC gallery, I read an article in Modern Painters Dec. '06/Jan. '07 issue about the dangers of the label "emerging artist" written by art historian and critic Katy Siegel. She's ultimately concerned with the fact that today's young artists have to " . . . fit into an existing social structure governed by the aesthetic mood at the moment . . . To 'emerge,' an artist must respond to the climate, and so be recognized for being whatever it is we want today."
I agree with Siegel that there is an existing social structure, and an artist must respond to her climate, but I disagree with her negativity. Unless your philosophy of art is defined by working in an absolute void, how can social structure and climate not affect an artist? She worries there are no more "breakthroughs in the studio" and that for the few artists who are making it there is way too much money tied to them. Ok, maybe there are too few artists who are successful financially speaking and maybe breakthroughs are minimized, that I don't really know for sure.
All I can do is talk about my situation as an emerging artist. I am completely dependent upon my climate and social structure. That is who makes me who I am, along with my own worldview. I do consider what people may buy and let that influence some of my work. I always go back to the scenario of the artist / teacher. Many artists go into the collegiate teaching profession for a steady income so that they can go home and make art. Great! On the other hand, what is wrong with making art that you know will have a greater chance of selling to make a living, and then making the "art for art's sake"? That is precisely what I'm doing. I hand paint tiles that are under the $200 price range, many of which are functional, to try to make ends meet. It's been pretty good so far. It's a different way of thinking, but I'm still using subject matter interesting to me: kitchen appliances, food, Italy. Then, my oils which I call "Appliance Portraits" and the "Anniversary Stills" and the "Sainted Appliances" have all been ideas spawned by my interests, but also developed out of situations in my life. I do have "aha" moments in the studio and what I think are breakthroughs. But, because I do spend time trying to make a full-time living as an artist maybe my ahas are not as frequent as I would like. But I suggest they are no fewer than the artist working full time as a teacher and painting only what she chooses.
But, what's the fault in being able to live your passion and make a living doing it? I don't think anything.
Regarding the show I was accepted into, here's the info:
Small Works: 30th Annual Competition & Exhibition
Opening: Saturday, February 3rd, 12 - 4pm
80 Washington Square East Galleries, NYC
Below are the three works I submitted, not all were accepted. I don't know which one(s) got in and which didn't. I'll find out tomorrow when I go to pick them up! Funny how that works.
A B C
A. First Anniversary I, 8" x 8", Oil on Panel, © 2006. Jennie Traill Schaeffer
B. Wedding Day I, 8" x 8", Oil on Panel, © 2006. Jennie Traill Schaeffer
C. Pistachio, Retro-Designed Chrome Flour Mixer II, 8" x 10", Oil on Panel, © 2006. Jennie Traill Schaeffer