ProWax Journal 1: Artists and Community

An Artist’s Community

By Milisa Galazzi

Click. I turn out the studio lights. Alone, I leave my art making space. Driving home in continued solitude, I ponder… . Intrinsic to my work as an ‘artist’ is hours on end in my studio in partial or full seclusion. How then do I create an artistic community? How does my community involvement benefit my art making, my art career, or simply assist me as an artist?

I recently asked this question of a few art colleagues. New Jersey artist Krista Svalbonas fosters community in several ways. In addition to the academic environment at The Art Institute of New York, where she serves as a professor in the Design Program, Svalbonas finds connections through cultural ties.  “I’m Latvian,” she says. “There are many art related groups for Latvian artists including a conference and a camp dedicated to art.” She continues, “I had work acquired by a European museum after it was in a traveling show in Latvia.”

Debra Claffey, recipient of the 2011 Artist Entrepreneurial Grant from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, highlights the opportunity for influence as a member of an arts community: “I’m a long time member of Women’s Caucus for Art, which I view as my ‘giving back.’ I can share what I learn and help with ‘raising the bar.’ It’s also my political contribution to gender equity since WCA is an non-governmental agency that supports the United Nations by using art platforms to address such issues.”

Social media connections have erased boundaries that limit artists to meeting locally. Jane Allen Nodine shared, “Networking via electronic media has been a very rewarding experience for me.” Nodine is the Assistant Chair of Fine Arts and Communications Studies at the University of South Carolina Upstate. She adds, “Participating in these online groups and knowing there is a place  I can go to voice concerns and ask questions and get respectable feedback is worth its weight in gold!”

Catherine Nash, who balances her studio work with artist-in-residence teaching, lectures, and workshops across the country, offers, “One has to reach out to find like minds.”

Artist community is not a passive experience. Artists must bring professional standards and expect the same of colleagues in order to best benefit the whole. Like many artists, I am stronger for being part of multiple artistic communities; in some I share the mediums in which I work and in others I simply interact with like-minded art colleagues. In future ProWax Journal articles, look for Q&A with artists who have successfully completed time at various artist residencies, both national and international. Stay tuned for more dialogue about art and community!

Galazzi is an artist living and working in Providence and on Cape Cod in the summer. Her graduate degree is from Rhode Island School of Design where she especially focused on her lifelong interest – art and community. Her website is www.milisagalazzi.com and she is represented by ERNDEN Fine Art Gallery in Provincetown, Mass. © Milisa Galazzi 2013

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