I've recently been listening to all the past Whaley studios blog radio programs and have gotten up to your interview a few weeks ago. What a great interview! It gave me a chance to know a little more about you and your work...from your own mouth!
After listening I had a few questions about your installation/museum work: How does it work? Do you come up with an idea, make the work, then try and shop it around to different venues? Or do you try and fill an already perceived need a venue may have? Or something else?
What sort of monetary arrangements are there (if any) for just showing the work (instead of the piece being acquired by a museum)?
That's a lot of questions. I will do my best to give you some quick answers.
Mostly, I come up with an idea, make the work, and then "shop it around", as you call it. This takes a considerable amount of time from start to finish. For example, the Grass/gras' installation took a year to make plus another year to finish the Grass/gras' video. The series of 200 cups titled, Consuming Conversation (see images below), took four years plus another year for the two videos. In both cases, I photographed earlier examples and started promoting the work before it was finished. Considering the entire effort, both projects took several years from inception to the finished work because I need to keep up on other work that makes money during the same period.
It often takes years until a piece becomes known, shown in exhibitions, or published in books or magazines with images widely distributed. The Internet really helps with that aspect of promoting your work, but it is important to maintain your focus and keep on working no matter what.
Hourglass Figure: The Scale of Torture
Recycled tin cans, battery motor, alum.
rivets, dial, screws.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman © 1994
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen
Sixteen years after completion, Hourglass Figure: the Scale of Torture is included in the book Makers: A History of Studio Craft. I haven't seen the book yet, but this is really big news! You have to plant your seeds and nurture them. You can not wait for opportunities and invitations to show up, you need to create momentum by working all the time.
I have been writing about a current artwork in progress involving a bell curve made from #2 pencils on my website and Facebook. This is the fourth year of working on this project, but I am really trying to finish it this year. When I have some preliminary photos, I will start looking for exhibition spaces.
There is no money that I know of for these big projects. Once in a great while, I get a little money to make a video or to speak about a piece. Big projects like this are time-consuming, drain my financial resources, drive me insane, fill me with self-doubt and torture -- it is not a picnic. Yet this is what I see and must do. It is my expression of art.
The next post answers the question: "How do you transport the larger work?" Another real-world question from several readers of ASK Harriete.
This post was updated on January 19, 2022.
Consuming Conversation © 2004
Teacup sculpture from recycled tin cans.
Handles are sterling silver or bronze.
This was the first photo I had for the
series and started promoting the series
through this image with note cards
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen