oranje - recent posts from my current home

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Emerging artist

I put a comment into a blog asking "What is an emerging artist" The comment seemed a little long, so I thought I'd bring it to my blog.

At the ripe age of forty, I decided to re-focus my life in the arts. I left my corporate design-type job and am happily starving in Pittsburgh. I have been working as an arts worker here for the last several years because this affords me some flexibility in my scheduling and I only work part-time.

So, with that said, I would have considered myself emerging because, even though I was exhbiting and producing for twenty years, it was not my main focus.

Well, I'm not emerging by the current definitions. The emphasis in Pittsburgh is focused exclusively on the under-40 crowd or the late-career established artist. The definition for emerging that I have heard here is an artist who is within ten years of achieving their degree. At least, that is the criteria the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts uses as the cut-off for their emerging artist of the year selection.

I think that the appeal of young artists began as an interest in fresh work by naive artists. Youth has the tendency to state the obvious, which can be refreshing. At first glance, these works seem to fall into social/political commentary or observation of humanity. In a lot of cases, I find that I am mistaken and seem to be attributing qualities to the works that are of my own manufacture. On closer examination, many of these young artists are working in an insular and exclusionary manner, referencing trends within their own circles of experience. Many produce works that appear to be autobiographical. What at first appears to be an observation about human nature upon closer inspection reveals itself to be a conglomeration of images from a limited culture.

This trend is highly disturbing in so far as it reflects the limitations of our current social dynamics. Our social circles seem to be homogenous, showing a distinct lack of intercourse with members of other economic, career or ethnic communities. Young artists seem to be participating in this dynamic, embracing only their own peers and forsaking the world that exists beyond the surface of their own skins.

3 comments:

Lisa Hunter said...

It's troubling that an artist's age, appearance and personality are so important in "selling" the work to collectors.

I'll show my own age here by speculating that if collectors persist in their prejudice for youth, we'll have an artworld Milli Vanilli before long.

Elizabeth Perry said...

As someone who began drawing a year ago at the age of forty-five-and-a-half, I am clearly too old to be an emerging artist, have too much formal education (Ph.D. in English) to be an outsider artist, and have not been doing this for long enough to be a mid-career artist. So I just ignore my lack of labels and draw anyway...

Glad to run across your blog today. I live in the Friendship neighborhood of Pittsburgh, and draw daily at woolgathering...

Tracy said...

So glad to come across your blog and to find another "old" emerging artist. I don't pay much attention to the labels though, and just do my work. Anyway, I look forward to reading more from you.