June 2011

Fellows Converge | Broadly Thinking

The question isn’t “How are we influenced by other artists?’” but rather, “How might considering another artist’s creative process be a way to reexamine and refine our own practice?”

In developing the exhibition Broadly Thinking with this group of ten Hamiltonian Fellows, I was interested in considering the networks that can support our practice as artists outside the comfort zone of art school. When there is so much pressure placed on originality, how can we cultivate an environment that encourages emerging artists to critically engage with their peers?

From gathering information during many meetings and studio visits, I created associations and loose groupings between the Fellows, which then evolved into a circuit of ten artists.  I asked each Fellow to consider the creative process of the artist on either side of their position within the circuit, and at times, to examine the practice of a third artist in the circuit.  Inviting each Fellow to investigate the work of two, sometimes three, other Fellows was not about urging superficial connections in style, nor the adoption of someone else’s medium. Instead, the exercise involved a process of self-assessment and comparative analysis that made it possible for the artists to appreciate each other’s struggles with materials and ideas, as well as to understand how resistance and acceptance affect the outcome of their own art-making.

At its core, becoming an artist is not just about establishing an aesthetic or conceptual identity. Art-making can as easily be a sublime practice as it can be a process fraught with angst. No matter what the creative experience, our art must survive, and hopefully thrive, in the world outside our studios. An open conversation about making art can help us think about the effectiveness of our efforts and push us to a new level. How do you embrace a symbol while deconstructing it? In what way could shifting the balance of materials make a real difference in the success of the work? What happens when my process eclipses my content? Taking time to pose such questions is a way to begin a potentially transformative dialogue.

In the end, each of us is responsible for how we engage with other cultural producers. An awareness of what informs and challenges the work of our peers can affirm and strengthen or test and alter our way of working in the most positive sense. Thinking collaboratively about art can give our practice a deeper resonance. Being mindful is not as much about whether or how we choose to work around or through obstacles. What counts is that we are intentional about the choices we make.

- Written by Zoë Charlton


click here to download a copy of the press release

June 25 – August 6, 2011

Opening Reception:
Saturday, June 25

Panel Discussion:
Wednesday, July 13th
7 pm