Get That Commission: Lynn Basa On Going Public

Lynn's installation “Grove” in Claremont, California.

Lynn Basa’s installation, “Grove,” in Claremont, California.

Lynn Basa knows a thing or two about making art in public. The painter, sculptor and former instructor at the the School of the Art Institute of Chicago centers her practice around public commissions—colorful mosaics that cover schools, parks, bus stops, or movie theaters. On April 14, she will lead Demystifying Public Art, a webinar focused on all aspects of researching and applying for public art commissions for visual artists. We had the chance to talk with Lynn about her current work, how to reach out to your local government, and why artists should buy their buildings.

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Announcing Creative Conversations: Criminal Justice


Clockwise from top: Maria Gaspar, Paul Rucker, Shawn Peters, Michelle Coffey, Gregory Sale, Nick Szuberla

Starting Tuesday, April 19, something big is coming to New York. Ok, it’s the New York primaries (please vote!), but it will also be the first in our series of Creative Conversations, a panel of artists addressing critical issues. In this first discussion, we will gather five Creative Capital-supported artists who are addressing criminal justice and mass incarceration in their work: Maria Gaspar, Shawn Peters, Paul Rucker, Gregory Sale and Nick Szuberla. And we’re so happy that Michelle Coffey, Executive Director of the Lambent Foundation, will moderate the conversation!

We will livestream the conversation (RSVP here) from 6-8 EST on Tuesday, April 19, and take questions from Twitter, so use the hashtag #CreativeConvos and our handle @creativecap to follow along! In the meantime, read on to learn more about the presenting artists.

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Janine Antoni Uses Movement to Look Back in “Ally”

anine Antoni in collaboration with Anna Halprin, Paper Dance, 2013. Photographed by: Pak Han at the Halprin Dance Deck. © Janine Antoni; Courtesy of the artist and The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia.

Janine Antoni in collaboration with Anna Halprin, Paper Dance, 2013. Photographed by: Pak Han at the Halprin Dance Deck. © Janine Antoni; Courtesy of the artist and The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia.

This month, Janine Antoni (2012 Visual Arts) premieres her Creative Capital-supported project, Ally, at The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia (opening April 21). Ally is an exhibition of art and dance conceived and performed by Antoni in collaboration with choreographer Stephen Petronio and movement artist Anna Halprin. Taking the form of performances, installation environments, videos and sculptures, Ally will occupy four floors of the museum for three months, with weekly live performances. A book will follow, edited by the British writer and performance scholar Adrian Heathfield.

Antoni writes, “I conceived of this project more than six years ago as a kind of retrospective of my art making, told through dance. It has evolved into a truly collaborative creation that allows us to find a way to continue making new work while looking back.”

Ally is comprised of four projects: Rope Dance, an improvised performance instigated by Halprin, who presented a rope to Antoni and Petronio to be used as a tool to connect their bodies and draw lines through space; Swallow, a complex installation based on a performance by Antoni and Petronio, who connected from the gut using a 10-foot strip of woven cloth; The Courtesan and the Crone, a dance of seduction originally created and performed by Halprin in 1999, reimagined here in a different gender and generational context as a solo performance by Petronio; and Paper Dance, an improvised performance by Antoni with rolls of brown paper in an environment that refers to both Antoni and Halprin’s artistic histories.

I connected with Janine to learn more about the development of Ally and her deeply collaborative process.

Jenny Gill: The works in Ally all sound incredibly complex and layered, but Paper Dance strikes me as particularly rich. Not only is it a weekly performance, but it is performed within a “set” of crated artworks from your artistic history. With each performance, you unpack and repack different artworks, so over the course of the 14 weeks of the show, a mini-retrospective of your past work emerges. Can you talk more about the role of these artworks in the performance and the exhibition?

Janine Antoni: When I first conceived of my project for Creative Capital, I wanted to make a retrospective of my work in dance. For me, it was a way to look back with the intention of moving forward. It was Anna Halprin’s idea to take a section of her work Parades and Changes (1965) as a score for me to do as a solo—she presented me with the rolls of paper she originally used to create that piece.

In the process of improvising movement with the paper, I started to notice how images from my past artworks were presenting themselves to me. It became clear that the lessons learned in the making and the conceptual concerns of my work have etched themselves into my psyche. In Paper Dance, there is a beautiful symmetry as both Anna and I are reconfiguring our pasts. Continue reading

Rule Your Universe: Dread Scott on Marketing Your Work

Dread Scott's "Burning the US Constitution."

Dread Scott’s “Burning the US Constitution.”

We all know that an artist’s work doesn’t end with her time at the studio. Artists are their own creators, and also their own cheerleaders. It is their passion for their art making that can get other people—be it viewers, curators, critics, or collectors—involved and interested in their practice.

Artist Dread Scott knows this better than most. The revolutionary potential of his own work—including installations, performances, and paintings—feeds off of the attention and participation of his community. He leads Creating a Marketing Strategy, our upcoming webinar that covers all aspects of marketing your work, including defining your goals, developing effective communication tactics, and building your support community. We asked Dread what artists need to know about MailChimp and how we can be rulers of our own universe.

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Tahir Hemphill’s Database of Hip Hop Lyrics A Teaching Tool

Artist Tahir Hemphill is a creative technologist inspired by hip hop music. A few years ago, he created a database of lyrics from over 50,000 hip hop songs dating from 1979 to present. Using this database–a Creative Capital supported project called the Hip Hop Wordcount–Tahir formed curricula for high school students to learn how to work with data and complete their own independent studies. Beginning this month, Tahir will use his experience teaching students to teach a number of educators to implement his digital learning program across New York City.

The database will also be used in a series of collaborations between himself and “creatives, technologists and cultural critics.” These projects, united as a series called Actual Fact, will pair data visualization with critical scholarship of hop data and society.


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.

The Art of Goal-Setting: Susan Koblin Schear on Sticking to Your Values

A participant jots down some thoughts at a Creative Capital Professional Development workshop.

A participant jots down some thoughts at a recent Creative Capital Professional Development workshop.

Susan Koblin Schear is on a mission to help artists don their business hat with no shame or fear. After years of working in the corporate sector, Susan has the unique ability for translating entrepreneurial skills and practices to artists. Today, Susan is an arts consultant and founder of ARTISIN, LLC, which offers holistic business development, management and implementation services to the arts and cultural sector. Her upcoming Creative Capital webinar, Values-Based Goal Setting, explores how values and guiding principles can shape any art practice. We checked in with Susan to learn a little more about her course.

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Queen GodIs: A Creative Dissertation on Women and Gender Non-conforming MCs.

Queen GodIs’s artistic practice crosses many disciplines from performance to hip hop to art therapy. On April 9th in Brooklyn, she’ll bring many of these disciplines together for an event exploring women and gender non-conforming MCs. We asked her a few questions about her practice and the event.

Alex Teplitzky: The website describes the performance as a concert and a conversation; a coming-of-age story during an exciting and tumultuous hip hop era, but also a collection of poetry, prayers and prose exploring women and gender non-conforming MCs. How will these topics and mediums come together during the event at the gallery?

Queen Godis: The Book of Lyte is a creative dissertation. It explores women and gender non-conforming MCs (1978 – Present).

I have been researching, collecting and creating this content for over 20 years. As an artist and independent scholar, the work has both entertainment and academic value.

From MC Lyte and Queen Latifah, to Big Freedia and Iggy Azalea, the work is born as a collection of creative and expository writings that contemplate, celebrate and in some cases, challenge each muse. The more I began to write, the more imperative it became for the words to transcend the page.

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Where In The World Will You Make Art?

A project completed by Devan Shimoyama during the Fire Island Artist Residency.

A project completed by Devan Shimoyama during the Fire Island Artist Residency.

Sometimes what you need is space—physical and psychic—to fully engage in your practice. Whether you are an artist, performer, or writer, one of the perks of living creatively is that your work can flourish in many different contexts and many different cities. Have you ever asked: What would it be like to paint on the shores of Romania? Or work on an experimental theatre project in Ireland? Or write next to a lake in central Mexico? With the residencies and open calls we’ve found for you, all for free or with a stipend, the opportunity is yours for the taking.

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