Artists in Conversation:

Ana Fernandez

Graduate School Portfolio preparation: Dos and Don'ts

I tried to include work that showed the committee that I am a person who is "teachable." You are applying for admission to graduate school, not applying to be in an exhibition.

How do you Choose Which Opportunities to Apply for?

I do my best to apply to opportunities (grants, exhibits, residencies, awards) on a regular basis, maybe 5-6 per year. My goal is to get one. Because rejection can become discouraging, I always try to have a few applications out there, rather than applying to one thing and then waiting for the acceptance/rejection letter.

Mindy Rose Schwartz

How important is it for you to update your skills on an ongoing basis?

UPDATED NOVEMBER 23rd: Mindy Rose Schwartz receives the 7th annual Achievement Award from The Helen Coburn Meier and Tim Meier Charitable Foundation for the Arts. 

Bob Sloane, Harold Washington Library

How can the Harold Washington Library archives be useful to artists?

Bob Sloane currently heads the Art Information Center at the Harold Washington Library Center. He is in charge of the dance collections, and has programmed more than 350 live dance performances in the last 18 years. Here he speaks on the library archives, how they preserve Chicago's dance history, and how artists can submit works for inclusion.

Vera Scekic

What is the value of working in alternative spaces?

Working in alternative spaces has been invaluable for my career as an artist.

A few weeks ago, an acquaintance was at my studio looking at some of the work I had completed over the past decade. A water pipe had burst in my space the previous weekend, and I was in the process of checking the work for damage (there was none, fortunately). My friend stood patiently as I looked things over. As we were preparing to leave, she finally confessed that three or four artists could have produced my work rather than one set of hands.

Philip Hartigan

Are there organizations that have helped your career?

I think that many organizations have helped my career as an artist. Before I went to college, I thought that making art was about working on one's own. Someone would come to your studio, take the work away to sell it and then leave you alone in the studio again to just keep producing the work. Going to college was the first time that I realized, because so much of our time as artists is spent on our own, the importance of organizations to provide contact and opportunities, both for career development and for our mental health.

Mark Nelson

How can art-making impact social and political issues?

The projects I have created for the last 22 years are the direct result of having been raised overseas as a resident guest in other people's lands.

Frederick Holland

How can an art practice have a political/social impact?

From a historical perspective, images were often used to glorify a God or successful citizens (who served as an example of behavior that one should emulate) or to celebrate a hero (who sacrificed in service to the state). The relatively high cost and specialized skills needed for the production of imagery precluded the creation of artworks that challenged the existing powers.

Beth Shadur

How do collaboration and community context inform your work?

I have worked professionally as an artist for thirty years, and began my career as an artist working with community groups to create art.

Lee Tracy

Effective business strategies for an artist?

It is important for artists to take things seriously; so seriously that we must enact a thoughtful plan to set ourselves up in a sustainable environment.

Jill Pope

I'm a new parent: How do I manage my time and my practice?

I am a fulltime stay-at-home mom of a 23 month old. I live in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. Now doesn't that have the mark of artistic success written all over it?

In the first year of my daughter's life I was busier than ever and had more exhibitions than in any previous year. In addition to all the packing and unpacking, loading and inventorying for these exhibitions I also found time to paint. It has been one of the great puzzlements this year to find that I have so much less time to devote to my craft.

Laura Weathered

How Can Artists Create a Cooperative Housing Project?

Artist finds dusty, unused space, convinces landlord to rent space, improves the raw space with the help of friends, neighborhood gets trendy, rents double, artist moves to another neighborhood. Repeat the scenario every two years. How many years do you put up with this cycle of dust and grime, and working in a really, unhealthy raw space? Artist gets tired. It costs too much to make art anymore.

Claire Pentecost

How can art-making impact social and political issues?

I collaborated with Critical Art Ensemble and Beatriz daCosta to create a project of public science using Monsanto's patented RoundUp Ready (soy, canola and corn).

Chris Sullivan

A worst-case scenario for presenting your work and a lesson in preparation based on collaged facts.

Gretchen is a young sculpture student, under her arm is a tattered sketchbook that announces her scatter brained yet intriguing personae.

James Tuong Nguyen

What can other artists learn from your experience photo-documenting people affected by HIV?

Until now, I am still haunted by those eyes of that boy, the fifteen year old Vietnamese boy dying from AIDS who I could not take a photograph of in my first attempt.

Mary Patten

When is art activism and activism art? What is the goal of your practice, and how do you achieve it?

As I write this, I am thinking about the deep festering wound, the toxic running sores - not just in the waters of New Orleans and in the bodies of the victims and survivors, but in the heart of this wretched, doomed country.

Lifeline (installation) by David A. Parker

Mentors Must be Sought

Mentors offer invaluable inspiration and guidance, but they must be sought out.

I had been brought up with the notion that making art or being an artist was not a viable way of life in today's America. Worse, I knew no artists already practicing with whom I felt a close kinship or with whom I might study.

Joyce Owens

How do you cultivate a network for yourself and other artists?

You would think that a college graduate who managed to attain an M.F.A. from a prestigious eastern university would have been taught the process to becoming a professional visual artist. Did not happen...

Victor Maldonado

How Did You Transition from Local to National?

My short career as an artist has been rewarding, transformative and demanding.

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