I have spent the afternoon reading Ask Harriete. Oftentimes, I see a show I feel my work would fit into...due to the subject matter, title, etc., however, there is NOT enough time to create a piece and get it submitted in time. After reading what you say in the interview (from Etsy Recycler's Guild, I am surprised to see, that you most likely enter shows after the work is done.
Or as you once told me, you shop the work around in order to find an exhibition space. So, what can you offer to those of us who have the problem?
This issue often causes artists and makers to feel overwhelmed. Your schedule is already full and then an opportunity arises that would demand even more time. Who can just drop everything and start
Although I do make work for some shows (and will show some examples in the next post on ASK Harriete), I prefer to make work that I want to make based on my long-term goals.
I recommend that all artists and makers make the work they want to make.
Measuring Compliance Poster
portrays sculpture by the same title.
Measuring Compliance © 2006
Recycled materials, 3rd-grade desk,
3rd-grade chair, banners, custom made
straight jacket, yardstick, rulers.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen
It is the artist's or maker's responsibility to bring important or significant ideas to fruition without the dictates of a theme, exhibition, or invitation. Maybe these ideas are big, expensive, demanding, or even scary. So what if it takes a year or more to finish because you have to put it down, work on your day job, or do other artwork that makes money. Just keep working with the big goals in mind.
If you wait for a show invitation to start making something big or important, you may never get around to creating significant artwork. Too often, I have heard artists expressing disappointment that they didn't get invited to be part of a particular exhibition even though they had been thinking about making something that would have been "perfect" for the show. Don't wait for a show to prompt the making . . . start making. By waiting to make something "for a show" ... they lost an opportunity.
The emphasis is on making work that is challenging, significant, and stands on its own . . . not making work that fits into a show in a few weeks. Make work that you will be proud of for a lifetime. Sooner or later a show or some other opportunity will turn up that is right for your work -- not the other way around.
HERE IS AN EXAMPLE:
I just finished the project Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin. It took the better part of five years. I often had to put it away until I had time or help available to work on it.
Most often, the bigger or high-risk projects aren't necessarily the ones that will sell, but they may become the "show stopper" that establishes your reputation years later.
Here is my real-life example. The day before I finished Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin, a major magazine emailed me about writing an article on a topic highly relevant to this work! Wow!!!!! They need photos of the installation, so now I need to find an exhibition space.
The editor had become aware of this project from my website. I've had a link on my home page ever since I started the project.
Apparently, editors and writers spend some of their time "trolling" the internet for ideas and new work. Marthe Le Van, editor for Lark Books talked about this during her presentation for the Professional Development Seminar. A lesson to all of us to keep making our work, documenting our progress, never give up...steady progress wins the race!
MAKE WORK YOU WANT TO MAKE and then... find an exhibition space.
Does anyone know of an exhibition space for Pick UP Your Pencils, Begin?
I'd love to hear your ideas! There are 3-4 weeks before the article goes to press.
You can see the documentation of Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin on my website.
NEXT POSTS on ASK Harriete:
- Is it fruitless to even think of creating something fast to get into a show?
- How Do You Find Exhibition Opportunities For Finished Work?
This post was updated on February 9, 2022.