Creative Capital Featured in The Stranger: “How Creative Capital Replaced the NEA and Taught Artists to be Ambitious”

lead pencil studio, maryhill double

Lead Pencil Studio, Maryhill Double.

We were thrilled to read this wonderful, in-depth article about Creative Capital and our impact on artists in Seattle, written by Jen Graves for The Stranger. A short excerpt follows; read the full article here.

Last week, in an attempt to contact the Bellingham artist Christian Vargas about winning a 2016 Creative Capital Award, I googled him, left a congratulatory voice mail, and shortly got a phone call back.

“I’m not the right Christian Vargas,” said this Christian Vargas. “I wish I was!… That award—it’s life-changing, from what I hear.”

This Vargas #2 happens to also be an artist. Along with the rest of his graduate school class in Tennessee, he’s all but got the Creative Capital application pulled up in his browser waiting for the day after he graduates.

Creative Capital is such a big deal in the world of art that it even affects the lives of artists who don’t get it.

This grant-making organization, based in New York but serving artists nationally, was created in 1999 to counter the economic loss to artists when the National Endowment for the Arts killed the majority of its individual artist grants.

But Creative Capital is also a repudiation of the entire Reagan-era anti-social-services doctrine, and the condescending criticism in the 1990s from the Jesse Helms faction, who made the recipients of NEA grants sound like disgusting, freeloading children.

Creative Capital is a twofold initiative, then. It locates talented, deserving artists to support, and it recognizes that support consists of more than just money. The “more than” includes what can be thought of as ambition instruction, or giving artists the tools to think of themselves as something other than hopeless losers with a knack for making things—you know, full-fledged, contributing adults in a culture that regularly infantilizes those not wearing suits and making six figures.

And in Seattle, where money, attention, and the permission to be ambitious have always been scarce or viewed with skepticism, Creative Capital has made even bigger waves.

Case in point: “It wasn’t just a major turning point in my artistic life to get that call,” Paul Rucker, Creative Capital Class of 2012, told me. “It was a major turning point in my life.” …

Read the full article here.

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Jenny Gill

About Jenny Gill

Jenny Gill is Director of Communications at Creative Capital and editor of The Lab. Prior to joining Creative Capital in 2010, she produced educational programs and digital content for the American Craft Council. She has worked at numerous commercial and nonprofit galleries, including as Gallery Director at the University of the South (Sewanee, TN), Gallery Manager at Joan B. Mirviss Ltd. (New York) and Assistant Curator at Vanderbilt University’s Fine Arts Gallery (Nashville, TN). She also worked as a letterpress designer/printer at the historic Hatch Show Print, studied at the International Workshop for Ceramic Art in Tokoname, Japan, and was an artist assistant for Nashville sculptor Alan LeQuire. Jenny holds a BA in art and art history from Vanderbilt University, where she was awarded the Hamblet Award for studio art, and an MA from Bard Graduate Center for Decorative Arts, Design and Culture.

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