Artists in Conversation:

Irene Pérez

“Do It Yourself” Does Not Mean Do It Alone

If there’s one thing that has become critical to my artist practice, it’s the drive to make things happen beyond my studio. This drive comes from a desire to both materialize my art projects and to exchange ideas and collaborate with others.

Chicago has a long and rich history of independent art spaces, most of which have been created and run by working artists.

Matt and Roxy Goebel

Art Collecting Our Way

Collecting art has more unwritten rules than baseball. And we’ve broken most of them. There’s absolutely nothing cohesive about our collection or systemic in our approach to acquiring work (which, perhaps, doesn’t make us incredibly different than others who take the time to collect—or maybe it does).

We’ve bought art at auction, off the Internet, from galleries, and directly from artists. We’ve bought from vendors off the street and from some of the most prestigious art institutions in the world.

Kathy Cunningham

Teaching and Trust: Creativity and Learning Throughout Life

My initial degree was in Music Education and Music Therapy, then came a Master of Pastoral Studies, and finally a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While studying music, I would always come well-prepared for each lesson. At my final lessons, when both my bassoon and percussion teacher knew I would no longer be their student, they told me the same thing: They admitted they’d routinely given me twice what they thought I was capable of. All along, I’d believed that they thought I could handle it!

Peter N. Gray

Science as a Jumping-Off Point in Sculpture

As an artist, I attempt to share my admiration for molecular structures and functions by conveying a sense of their beauty and harmony. For scientists, aesthetics is not foreign to the process of discovery. The works of many philosophers, artists, and scientists (as far back as we have records) demonstrate a relationship between research and the search for beauty, between Art and Science, between artistic creation and the molecular structures of the living world.

Judy Natal

Artist Residencies: The Permeable Edges and Moveable Walls of Your Art Practice

Artist-in-Residence (AIR) programs provide unique opportunities for artists to expand their creative practice and broaden their professional networks in ways unimagined while sitting in a studio. And that’s the point: to shake up perspectives and disrupt work habits in pursuit of new inspirations and influences.

Elysabeth Alfano

Elysabeth Alfano - Fear No Art Chicago

Fear No ART Chicago on WTTW: How I Got From There To Here

When I started my first two businesses in the arts, I had no idea what I getting myself into. When I created the TV show "Fear No ART Chicago" and, inadvertently, a production company, I couldn’t have been further from understanding what was involved.

Katie Keller, Graceful Works

Where Has the Concept Gone? Embracing Originality in Graphic Design

Concept. Line. Color. Layout. Juxtaposition. Contrast. Texture. Movement. Dominance. Space.

These are crucial elements of design. By putting them to use, we artists hope to shed a revelatory light upon the viewers of our work: the revelation of a breakthrough concept. If our audience walks away refreshed, contemplative, reflective, and even changed, we have succeeded. We’ve made our impact.

Deborah Adams Doering

Sustainable Connections: The Big Picture and the Details

I have evolved as an artist by moving back and forth between what I might call "the forest and the trees"—or the big picture and the details. I tend to focus on the big picture in my art practice, especially in my installations, but I also try to embrace Mies van der Rohe's saying "God is in the details"—sometimes cited as "the devil is in the details"—as I create two-dimensional drawings and prints that shape the creation and execution of my installations.

Lisa Canning, The Institute for Arts Enterpreneurship

The Artist as Innovator: From “Starving” to Entrepreneurial by Thinking Outside the Box

I am a classical musician: a clarinetist. I’m also a writer, an actress, a visual designer, and an almost 30-year serial arts entrepreneur. If you Google my name or go to any of my websites, it might appear to you that I am more of a business owner than an artist.

Carol Giannasi

Bringing Art to the Country

I was pretty sure cows didn't bite, but when one came my way, I didn’t want to leave anything to chance, so I ran. My husband, Rick, was on a fast trot ten feet ahead of me—no help there. We got out of the barn alive and laughed our butts off. Rick is a firm believer in real estate as investment, and we were looking at property in the heart of Wisconsin's beautiful Kettle Morraine, with the hope of turning it into an artists’ retreat.

Sara Schnadt

Why working for CAR has been great for my art practice—especially for participating in Pop-Up Art Loop

I love artist networks and contributing to infrastructure that supports
artists to thrive. This is why I am CAR’s co-founder and artist-techie.
As an unexpected outcome, though, I have had the amazing
opportunity to grow my own art network like never before. In fact,
there have been several unexpected outcomes that have defined my own
art practice.
As you might imagine, my understanding of professional practice has
deepened, affecting how I approach my work and my career.

Kathryn Born, Chicago Art Machine

Why did you start a network of arts websites for Chicago, and how are you going about it?

Chicago Art Machine came from the need to pool resources and help connect the local arts coverage scene. Right now three sites largely connect to it, but we’re (I say “we” because it’s a large team effort) beginning to connect more with other sites.

Renee Prisble

How do the disparate parts of your life fuel your art?

I see my life as connected to my art, knowing that my
art is generated by my life. But recently, the divisions in my life could not
have seemed greater, even while in reality, the connection between my life and
art could not have been closer. It was extremely liberating to cut through these
contrived barriers.

Fern Shaffer

How has collaboration strengthened your practice?

Collaboration is the ability to share a vision—to put aside your ego and
work toward a common idea. I have collaborated with Othello Anderson for the
past 30 years. We have worked individually on our own projects while
occupying the same studio, as well as collaboratively on joint projects.

How Does the Experience of Being a Teaching Artist Enrich Your Own Art Practice?

Being a teaching artist in various venues profoundly influences and formulates my own art practice. In the past few years working in residency with different organizations not only opens doors for me to have an insightful experience of the communities where the school is situated, but also opens my inner-eye to see myself in relation to others. This journey of rediscovering and seeing myself betters my studio practice.

Natasha Egan, Museum of Contemporary Photography

photographers have no idea how much work curators view on a regular
basis.  I think they would be astonished.  Nor do they realize how
competitive it is.  There are so many artists who do compelling and
intriguing work.  The three curators at the Museum of Contemporary
Photography (MoCP) travel to photo festivals, meet artists, participate
in portfolio reviews all across the country and abroad, and serve on
juries.  We all see new work constantly, in person and online too.

Kate Lorenz, Hyde Park Art Center

Planning is essential, plans are useless.

Like most good things in life, my career in the arts has happened largely by accident.  When asked to give advice on how to get a job in the arts, I usually tell people to find ways to spend time doing what interests them and opportunities will present themselves.

Dawoud Bey

What advice do you have for emerging artists?

Make good work! Be self-critical and informed enough to know if the work you are doing stacks up to the work you would like to be hanging next to. Through constant engagement with work that is being shown, know where and if your work fits into a particular area of current discourse. Nothing else matters more than this, and nothing else will make up for this if you are not doing it.

Joyce Owens, Curator and Artist

How does curating and organizing an arts space affect your identity as an artist? What is the biggest challenge to organizing and curating art exhibitions and events?

Flexibility has turned out to be one of the most important attributes
I possess. Seeing multiple sides of issues is tough when it comes to making
decisions, and sometimes when it comes to making art, but I have learned
to appreciate my ability to see many possibilities at once and having an open