Fernández offers graduates ten practical tips on being an artist that have been helpful on her own creative journey — but they double as an ennobling moral compass for being a decent human being in any walk of life:
- Art requires time — there’s a reason it’s called a studio practice. Contrary to popular belief, moving to Bushwick, Brooklyn, this summer does not make you an artist. If in order to do this you have to share a space with five roommates and wait on tables, you will probably not make much art. What worked for me was spending five years building a body of work in a city where it was cheapest for me to live, and that allowed me the precious time and space I needed after grad school.
- Learn to write well and get into the habit of systematically applying for every grant you can find. If you don’t get it, keep applying. I lived from grant money for four years when I first graduated.
- Nobody reads artist’s statements. Learn to tell an interesting story about your work that people can relate to on a personal level.
- Not every project will survive. Purge regularly, destroying is intimately connected to creating. This will save you time.
- Edit privately. As much as I believe in stumbling, I also think nobody else needs to watch you do it.
- When people say your work is good do two things. First, don’t believe them. Second, ask them, “Why”? If they can convince you of why they think your work is good, accept the compliment. If they can’t convince you (and most people can’t) dismiss it as superficial and recognize that most bad consensus is made by people simply repeating that they “like” something.
- Don’t ever feel like you have to give anything up in order to be an artist. I had babies and made art and traveled and still have a million things I’d like to do.
- You don’t need a lot of friends or curators or patrons or a huge following, just a few that really believe in you.
- Remind yourself to be gracious to everyone, whether they can help you or not. It will draw people to you over and over again and help build trust in professional relationships.
- And lastly, when other things in life get tough, when you’re going through family troubles, when you’re heartbroken, when you’re frustrated with money problems, focus on your work. It has saved me through every single difficult thing I have ever had to do, like a scaffolding that goes far beyond any traditional notions of a career.
Day 3 was held at Gallery 7 where all the children went to see the exhibition of Ram Kumar, a Bombay Progressives artist.
The show started with Mr. Prayag Shukla, art critic & poet, introducing the artist and his life. He also led the discussion about the interpretations of art and its meaning(s).“Apni masti mein chalta hai artist, it doesn’t matter whether we paint or not, but we become an artist when we see a work of art. We become an artist because we start adding and subtracting from the work; we see what is there but we also see what is not there.” The kids learnt that every piece of art always has more than one meaning and should always be open to interpretation.
The children then went on to create spontaneous works where they explored the beauty of lines and color, inspired by the creations of Ram Kumar.
This piece is written by Rehaan Kaul, a student intern for Art1st.
This ART1ST workshop revolved around making the children and young adults aware about Indian Art and its various styles and schools.
The workshop began with the children being asked an important question: Who is an artist?
“An Artist is an explorer” “An Artist is a dreamer”
” An Artist is a creator”
This was followed by the ‘Eye Spy’ game where each participant was given an eye which belonged to a painting among the various present at the gallery. Their job was to navigate through the labyrinth of paintings and find the one which matched the eye they were provided. On finding the right painting, they wrote the name of the artist, the year of conception, name of painting and the school of art it belonged to.
The children then reconvened back at the meeting point and shared their discoveries and hence the different types of schools were introduced. From all the eyes, a timeline was created that showed the span of different art forms through the years in the country.
After this the children chose a few favorite artworks and sketched in their notebooks any element from them.
The day ended with everyone sharing the objects/elements they had picked from the paintings they had liked. It was interesting to hear their reasons for picking it- “It had a cricket ball”, “”I loved the lamps”, “I liked the wings”
Wings…that’s what they gave to their ideas, their thoughts.
Rehaan Kaul (Correspondent for Art1st)
Artist and mentor for the month of December, Ms. Anita Dube’s work revolves around personal and social memory, history and mythology and these were the same themes that she explored with the participants of Partner a Master, Delhi. Shambhavi Thakur writes about her experience and what she learned from the esteemed artist.
I had never really thought about the connections between Art and History. I always knew that History played a big role in all of our lives. For example, in the field of science, when we study about earlier scientists and their theories, it helps us understand evolution. In geography, the charting of prior movements of tectonic plates helps us predict new ones for the future. The history of one political party helps us decide whether to vote for them in the next term or not. But I never really knew about how much of a direct connection history has had with art. And this session with Anita Dube has helped me understand that.
When she described her work she explained the link between what we see and absorb and how it influences what we make. The more we read and see the more diverse and different our works will be. The more of our past we are able to know about, the richer our knowledge base will be and the more techniques we will be able to apply in our work.
Anita ma’am continued to make historical references and allusions as she spoke. It was extremely interesting to listen to her talk as she drew analogies between artists of different eras and times. It genuinely made me think about the vast knowledge expanse of a historian.
Anita ma’am asked us two questions.
The first was, “What is your idea of beauty?”
My idea of beauty was nature.
For converting my idea of beauty; nature into a piece of art, I took inspiration from a work of hers called “Silence Blood Wedding” (where she had zoomed into the human body’s framework and beautified it) and I zoomed into the trunk of a tree. I used clay as my medium and made a rectangular slab. I gave it relief features and made carvings into it so it looked like a real section of the tree’s bark.
The second question she asked us was, “What does past mean to you and what kind of relationship do you have with the past?”
In our family, we have always been big fans of music. My father had an extremely big collection of CDs, cassettes and vinyls which we have always treasured. It mostly consisted of music from the 60s-90s. My brother and I grew up listening to this music, so this is our relationship with the past. I wanted to do something related to music and musicians from these eras and their influence in the music industry today. So I decided to make a collage of all these bands. I also wanted to include bands from the modern industry which have a similar sound to these classic bands and have at some point in their career been influenced by these bands.
In Anita ma’am’s presentation she showed us her works which involved typography and fonts. So in my collage instead of putting pictures I put band logos. I made these logos all with a black sketch pen. The monotonous effect made it bold, but it also made sure the logos didn’t clash.
She had absorbed what she saw and put it across through art, which is what we all aspire to do. I loved how each art work could be identified with its own era and time. The idea of a piece of art making a comment on current affairs or just making a simple statement was something that I walked away with from the session.
(Shambhavi Thakur is a student at The Shri Ram School, New Delhi.)
The wall adorned with graffiti done by kids from Partner a Master 2013-14, DELHI, mentored by one of the most well-known Indian street artists, DaKu, recently featured in a televised advertisement for MTS Canvas Blaze.
Read more about the project here.