Excerpt from the article:
We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
The best advice I could give to other artists would be to recognize that you are a part of a community and with that in a relationship that requires nurturing and communication from both parties. Many artists strive after a fantasy that they will be picked out from the crowd by an important curator or collector and with that single action all the doors will open for them. Unfortunately, that fantasy happens for very, very few and the reality is that the ones we see blossom, seemingly out of nowhere, put in a lot of work behind closed doors that you are only just seeing the fruit of that labor.
As artists, we often segregate ourselves from the rest of the world. Hiding away and perfecting our craft but the truth is that the best artists understand that they do not exist nor create in a vacuum. Throughout history, the movements that have changed art and created ripples that affect the way we think and relate to our medium comes from artists who realize art is a conversation. Not a single-sided lecture or narration but a symbiotic relationship and passing of information not just from other artists of your kin, but intellectuals, creatives outside of your medium, writers, philosophers, architects, mathematicians, scientists, etc.
I often see other young creatives coming up who admire and idolize artists who themselves lived in communities and participated in collectives where sharing was a given but fail to understand how this relationship helped those artists grow and become the individuals we study and marvel over today. So I urge other artists to get out of their bubble and give back, talk to other artists, support other artists, go to other artists gallery openings, participate in artist residencies, be models for other artists, go to that independent art performance in the desert that seems weird but oddly interesting, start a magazine, be a grip for someone, go to art festivals, do studio visits, let someone practice their gallery spiel on you, be a sounding board, etc.
Don’t just go to the handful of key events but go to the small shows. Be an active participant in your community, not just a passive observer waiting for an opportunity to seize the light. Being an artist is only as lonely as you allow it to be.
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All the pictures in this edition of Zoetrope: All-Story were made prior to the events in Charlottesville.
My most recent work focuses on the dystopian underside of the American dream that led to the election and continued support of Donald Trump. One series, Premonitions (2008—16), printed for the first time this year, documents symbolic gestures found in the landscape during the Obama administration. The other series, The Writing on the Wall (2017—present), highlights graffiti left on abandoned buildings and rocky outcroppings throughout the desert Southwest.
Joining me are two young artists whose photographs I see as profound rejoinders and resonant contributions to this particular moment in our history.
Wesaam Al-Badry is a thirty-three-year-old student at the San Francisco Art Institute. The police and military sometimes use for target practice images of what could be described as stereotypical "Muslim" terrorists. Al-Badry substitutes flowers for weapons before rephotographing them.
Johnnie Chatman is a twenty-seven-year-old student at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Published here is a selection from an ongoing series of self-portraits in the American landscape.
September 1, 2017
*To view the issue, Volume 21 Number 3: Fall 2017 and purchase your copy please click here.
Johnnie Chatman, a student from the New York School of Visual Arts, showcases his photography from his recent project ‘Between the Sea & the City'.
When I grew up in the Los Angeles suburbs, war seemed as much a non-existent reality as the icy tundra of Antarctica. It was something that existed on TV, in faraway lands. But upon arriving in San Francisco as a young adult in 2011, I was for the first time confronted directly with war’s immediacy and implications. Although ‘San Francisco’ and ‘the military’ are rarely put together in a sentence, the city has one of the best-preserved World War II landscapes in the lower 48 states. Hidden around the bay coastline like a treasure map lay a series of coastal artillery batteries, forts and lookouts built to protect the bay from foreign threats. With the outbreak of World War II and the deteriorating diplomatic relationship with Japan, the bay was primed for war. As soldiers stood with their eyes on the horizon, missiles were primed and long-range artillery guns adjusted their barrels towards the sea. But the war ended, and the battle never came. No lives were lost, and no blood stained the shores. The installations were decommissioned and were left to deteriorate between the sea and the city as a silent reminder to how close we came to confrontation. My photographs of these forgotten facilities reveal a side of the Bay Area on the fringe of our day-to-day lives. Military installations built, stationed and manned 70 years ago reveal a history that will soon cease in living memory to become something we learn about only in history books and deep internet dives. In these locations, nature and structure compete for the light.
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At about midnight last Thursday, I got off the #1 bus in the Outer Richmond and noticed something was ... off. The fog seemed ominously dark above me, but Geary was lit up as normal. Turning towards my house, I realized that a power outage had caused a blackout from 32nd to 44th, between Balboa and Geary Ave. The fog was so thick that it made the darkness seem to reach out for me on the eerie walk towards my house.
It was as if a dome had been placed over the Outer Richmond. No candles, no flashlights, no noise, not much of anything except faint glow of the city against the fog, and eventually, the isolated beams of the emergency crews. I grabbed a thicker coat and my camera in an attempt to document such a rare, unsettling evening...."
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