Happy Labor Day!

Today is Labor Day in the United States, a day “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.”

Ramiro Gomez. No Splash (after David Hockney’s A Bigger Splash, 1967), 2013. Acrylic on canvas 96 x 96 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Osceola Refetoff.

Ramiro Gomez. No Splash (after David Hockney’s A Bigger Splash, 1967), 2013. Acrylic on canvas; 96 x 96 in. Courtesy of the artist and Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Osceola Refetoff.

In honor of the day, we present you with links for further reading:

More than a dozen articles on labor, artistic services, precarity, working for free, and related subjects are included in Art Practical’s Issue 5.4: Valuing Labor in the Arts

Labor Arts ”presents powerful images to further understanding of the past and present lives of working people”

Who are the laborers building your museum, and how are they treated? The artist-activists in the Gulf Labor coalition shine a light on the “coercive recruitment, and deplorable living and working conditions” of the migrant workers constructing the Guggenheim, Louvre, and the Sheikh Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi

Bone up on facts about working artists at the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention W.A.G.E. Have you read their wo/manifesto?

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Summer Session

Summer Session – How to Make It: 10 Rules for Success From Art Curators

For our Back to School Summer Session, we’ve taken a look at education, pedagogy, and learning in the arts from a broad perspective, including work informed by school or schools of thought, investigations into the current state of academia, and resources for those interested in either self-directed or formal education. Today for our final installment we bring you an excerpt from an article by Cedar Pasori at Complex, who asked ten successful curators to give their best advice to those with an interest in curatorial practice. We hope this Summer Session has empowered our readers to make informed decisions about the relationship between scholarship and art practices, and that you’ve enjoyed the series. This article was originally published on September 22, 2013.

RoseLee Goldberg and Performa board member Todd Bishop at Relâche, 2012. Image via Paula Court and the original posting.

RoseLee Goldberg and Performa board member Todd Bishop at Relâche, 2012. Image via Paula Court and the original posting.

In the past, we’ve done the “How To Make It” series with artists in generalfreelance photographersfreelance writersfreelance illustratorsstreet artists, and art directors. Now, we’re bringing you a list of expert curators who have advice for a younger generation of artists and creatives. Especially during a time when the title “curator” gets thrown around a little too often, learn from those who are doing it best.

RoseLee Goldberg

Performa

Rule: Art history, art history, art history!

“Curating comes from having knowledge across a broad spectrum of contemporary culture, politics, and economics as well as a vast knowledge of art history from the beginning of time. You need to be in a constant pursuit of this information, to bring an extensive understanding of the vast archive of ideas and the huge bank of visual references from the past into the present.”

Read the full article here.

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Summer Session

Summer Session – What’s Your Time Management Personality?

This Summer Session our topic is Back to School, and in addition to exploring how art and education intersect, we are also providing resources that might be useful for artists working in the academy or for those interested in self-directed learning. Today we bring you an article by Lauren Zander from the Freelancers Union, whose time-management profiles give readers an opportunity to evaluate their personal relationships to time. Work in both the arts and in education is notoriously time-consuming, and potentially identifying one’s time-management foibles can be a helpful way to improve efficiency, fend off procrastination, and make space for self-care. This article was originally published on June 29, 2015.

Charles Ray. Clock Man, 1978; wood, paint, human body; 30 x 30 x 54 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Charles Ray. Clock Man, 1978; wood, paint, human body; 30 x 30 x 54 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

You already know that you procrastinate, or that you’re always late, or that you’re a little flaky, but you might not recognize how that behavior is rooted in your possibly dysfunctional relationship with time.

You also might not realize how much power you have to change this relationship. All it takes is an honest inventory of your own behaviors and beliefs. Telling the truth about how you treat your time gives you perspective, clarity, and the opportunity to adopt a different mindset.

After twenty years of life-coaching, I’ve come to recognize a few time-related personality traits that show up in even the smartest and most successful people I meet. I call these traits “time bandits,” because they are lawless thieves of our most precious natural resource! See if you can spot your own brand of time mismanagement in these characters:

1. The Time Martyrs

Although they constantly lament that there’s “never enough time,” these people-pleasers fill their schedules with commitments to others instead of focusing on what’s truly important to them. They gain respect and validation this way, but they neglect the list of things that would actually build self-respect, because being accountable to those things is scary.

They leap at a chance to say “yes” to any request that pulls their attention away from the task at hand—a neighbor’s yard sale, a child’s last-minute homework assignment, or a friend in need of advice.

The Truth: Everybody in the world has the same amount of time—twenty-four hours, every day. If you feel overcommitted or underserved, you’re not prioritizing it properly.

Take a closer look at the personal tasks you put off to help others. Ask yourself, “Why am I avoiding this?” Yes, you’re avoiding. Why?

Read the full article here.

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Summer Session

Summer Session – 50 Ways to Take Care of Yourself in the Arts

For our final Summer Session we’re going Back to School, and in addition to examining how pedagogy, learning, and the arts intersect, we are also providing how-tos and resources for artists practicing within education. Today we bring you an excerpt from an article by Madeleine Dore that focuses on ways to practice self-care as an artist, an oft-overlooked but critically important function. While these tips are primarily geared toward community educators, they are helpful reminders to anyone working in a field as demanding and woefully under-supported as the arts. This article was originally published on November 1, 2015.

Diane Borsato. Sleeping with Cake, 1999; discrete performance and photographs. Montréal, Canada. Courtesy of the Artist.

Diane Borsato. Sleeping with Cake, 1999; discrete performance and photographs. Montréal, Canada. Courtesy of the Artist.

As a sector, the arts is on the verge of burnout if not already teetering far beyond its edge. Lack of support, the precarious nature of freelance and contract work, the emotional and physical toll of creative and community arts work, frequent requests to work for free, and the undervaluing of work in Australia is confounding. Yet there is a silver lining in that these issues are finally being broached. At the Making Time: Arts and Self-Care conference held by Footscray Community Arts Centre (FCAC) last week, the discussion was stripped bare of the appearances we are often greeted with at exhibition openings, or daily dealings with colleagues and friends. Delegates shared candid accounts of dealings with trauma and mental-health difficulties, and illuminated the dark corners of community arts work. […] So how can we incorporate simple steps toward self-care into our days without feeling pangs of guilt?

​At Making Time, arts workers, practitioners, performers, artists, producers and managers brainstormed how as individuals we can strive ​for better self-care before, during, and after a potential period of stress. Here’s a collection of fifty practical ideas to help you avoid burnout ​while enabling you to engage with communities, look after others, advocate for the sector, or focus on the creation of your work.

1. Get out of your head
Our thoughts can often be biased and get stuck in harmful feedback loops ​about not being good enough, not doing enough, not helping enough, not knowing enough. This damages creative relationships and our capacity to do good work. Step out of that loop through mindfulness or physical activity.

2. Be playful
Whether it’s playing a sport, going for a jog, stealing flowers from other people’s gardens, or swinging on the playground, playfulness is often an underrated tool to help manage stress.

3. Share with others
One delegate was asked in a job interview, “What do you need help with?” This is something to continually ask yourself throughout projects or your art practice, and a way to reach out to others.

Read the full article here.

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Summer Session

Summer Session – Help Desk: Back to School

Our topic this Summer Session is Back to School, and today we bring you an article from our arts-advice column Help Desk about that very thing. Here, Bean Gilsdorf outlines her best advice for getting the most out of an arts program, particularly as an undergraduate, and how to jump-start personal development as an artist, whether you practice as a student, professionally, or independently. This article was originally published on August 20, 2012.

Barry McGee, Untitled #29, 2002. Paint (mixed media) on wood panels, 96 x 144 inches

Barry McGee, Untitled #29, 2002; paint (mixed media) on wood panels; 96 x 144 in.

I am currently attending art school (RISD) on the east coast to receive a BFA in painting. I will be a junior this coming year and feel that things have really started to pick up. The first half of my undergraduate education has gone fairly well. Foundation year was rigorous, and last year I explored a lot within my own work. I have multiple on-campus jobs and am beginning to feel good about my contact and personal relationships with the faculty. Besides my own personal goals to read a lot and really hit the ground running in the studio, I was wondering if you had any advice on what I can do to make the most out of my remaining two years in undergrad? Specific class topics? Outside experiences? Maybe taking advantage of the close vicinity to Boston and New York? Any advice would be great.

I’m glad to hear that you feel good about how things are going in general. Art school can be tough and competitive, but it sounds like you’re on an even keel and ready to work on your next steps. It’s been a long time now since I was an undergrad, but in order to answer your question I spent some time thinking about the beneficial things I did—and the things I wish I had done—when I was in school. Below are some ideas for you to consider, divided into the three categories of career, artwork, and personal development.

Career: I like that you have on-campus jobs and are cultivating good relationships with faculty. When you graduate, you’re going to run into a lot of people who will say, “Oh, you went to RISD? Do you know Professor X?” and it may be helpful if you’re able to say, “Yes.” Make sure that you get at least a little face time with all of the people in your own department.

Also, spend some time talking to teachers in other departments, because it’s easy to become conceptually isolated in the echo chamber of a particular department. You can figure out which people you want to contact by listening carefully when your friends discuss their classes and instructors. Who is a good teacher? Who gives good feedback? Who is friendly and generous? You want these people in your life, if for no other reason than they will create good energy and positive vibes for your practice (and I can say that with a straight face, because I live in California). If you hear of someone really phenomenal, ask for a studio visit. Inviting people from other departments to your studio will expand your understanding and your practice, which will serve you well after graduation. After all, there are no media-specific departments in real life. When you’re done with school you’re going to have to contend with the entirety of contemporary art, not just contemporary painting.

Read the full article here.

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Summer Session

Summer Session – Can You Make Your Own MFA?

For our Back to School Summer Session, we’re taking a look at education, pedagogy, and learning in the arts from all angles—be it through work informed by school or schools of thought, investigations into the current state of academia, or resources for those interested in either self-directed or formal education. Today we bring you an article by Shannon Stratton from our friends at Temporary Art Review that seriously considers the possibilities of creating an MFA outside of the academy. This article was originally published on May 12, 2014.

Sarah Hunter's logo for her experimental Summer Forum.

Sarah Hunter’s logo for her experimental Summer Forum.

A few months ago on Facebook I posted an idea I had about graduate school for visual artists. It is actually an idea I’ve had for some time, and one that seems increasingly relevant the more that is published on the arts being a career for the privileged or art schools ranking as the most expensive four-year programs in the nation. Having attended one of those expensive schools and now making (part of my living) teaching at it, I am embarrassingly familiar with the cost-benefit analysis of an education and career in the arts. In 2001 when I attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I took a gamble on my future, taking nearly $70,000 in student loans to cover my two years of graduate school tuition (made a little bit more expensive by an extremely unfavorable exchange rate between the Canadian and American dollar at the time). I was 25 and had attended a visual arts college in my hometown of Calgary, Alberta, that had cost considerably less. When I got into SAIC I decided that the benefit of a larger art community, access to the American visual art world, the potential of finding better teaching jobs with a degree from SAIC, and the seemingly endless list of resources the school offered were well worth the investment. I had been hammered with the “invest in your future”/”student loan debt is ‘good debt’” rhetoric, and as the first person in my family (siblings, parents, or grandparents) to go to college, let alone graduate school, I was perhaps a little too caught up in the honor of being accepted to a “top school.” With no disrespect to the quality of education I did or one might receive at SAIC, I should have been a little less flattered, a little less starry-eyed. But at 25, hopeful that I would “make it” and filled with a kind of follow-your-dreams delusion, I felt that the arts shouldn’t be a career just for the rich, and that I would make this work for me…at all costs.

This isn’t a short article on regret, but some basic things I wish I had known: the percentage of tenure-track jobs versus adjunct positions in the job market and the average rate of pay and benefits for these positions; and the significant resources state schools had in terms of faculty and opportunities.

Read the full article here.

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Summer Session

Summer Session – Teaching While Black

Back to School is the theme of our final 2016 Summer Session, and in addition to exploring the relationship between the arts and education, we are also providing resources for those working within the academy. Today we bring you the series “Teaching While Black” from Patricia A. Matthew’s blog Written/Unwritten. In Part 1 Matthew highlights specific essays about dealing with student reactions from Robyn Magalit Rodriguezs “Resources for Women of Color Faculty,” which was posted as part of Back to School earlier this session, and offers advice for her white colleagues on how to support faculty of color. Below is an excerpt from Part 2, which provides a personal perspective from Matthews own experiences with students and student evaluations—a potentially devastating aspect of teaching for nonwhite (and non-male) professors and lecturers. Part 3 can be found through our friends at the New Inquiry, and expands upon how Matthews race and gender affects her students perceptions. Part 2 was originally published on December 1, 2013. 

Lorna Simpson. Five Day Forecast, 1991; five photographs, gelatin silver print on paper and fifteen engraved plaques, 24.5 x 97 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Salon 94, New York.

Lorna Simpson. Five Day Forecast, 1991; five photographs, gelatin silver print on paper and fifteen engraved plaques; 24.5 x 97 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Salon 94, New York.

It’s evaluation time and students have the chance to offer anonymous feedback about their experience in the classroom. As a tenured faculty member, I’m not required to undergo this process, but from time to time I do so anyway. Even when I don’t arrange for university evaluations, I ask my students for feedback about the semester. It’s always a bit unnerving, and I can never quite shake the feeling that it feeds into the consumerism mode of higher education, but I believe it can be a useful process. This year, as I’ve been thinking of what it means to be a professor of color in the academy for a solid decade, I’m thinking of the daily informal assessments that happen all the time, and I’m remembering the time I told a graduate student to take a seat.

Literally.

I’ll never know exactly what pushed this particular graduate student to stand up in the middle of my Research Methods course and shout, “You can’t lecture me!” He’d been terse and combative from the first day of the term, but it’s been so many years (easily seven or eight) that I’ve even forgotten what we were talking about when he forgot himself. It’s possible that he was angry that I hadn’t paid enough attention to Byron’s use of ottava rima in Don Juan (no, I’m not kidding). I remember being amused when he wanted to know if I knew this pertinent fact about the poem (of course, I did). And when he wanted to explain to me that feminism was a crock because men were responsible for good things like the Sistine Chapel, I remember trying to gently but firmly move the conversation towards more productive ground. I also remember feeling some genuine sympathy for him. Here he was, forced to take a course that was not of his choosing with an instructor he might not ever have chosen to study with. All graduate students in our program must take Research Methods, it’s only offered once a year and, at the time, I was the only instructor teaching it. He was white and his privilege expressed itself with a stridency I could tell made his classmates uncomfortable. He wasn’t the first student with this habit, but he was the most aggressive.

I don’t remember why this student stood up in a room of about twenty students and yelled, “You can’t lecture me!” but I do remember that, in the moment, my gallows humor crowded everything else out; in reply I said, dryly, “Well, actually, that’s my job. Literally. I mean it’s in my contract and everything.” I then told him he could either sit down or leave the class. He chose the latter.

Read the rest of the article here.

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