Extra-Curricular Bucket List: Fine Arts Edition

1.Reach out to an artist you admire. 

A couple of years ago, I stopped into an exhibition of ceramic works by emerging 92-year-old artist Stanley Rosen. To make a long story short, his small-scale sculptures had a profound impact on my own, and, when it came time for me to write my art history thesis, I decided to focus it on him.  In February, I visited Stanley and his wive Jane at their home in Vermont to interview Stanley about his philosophy of art and his experiences working at Bennington College in the 1960s and ’70s. After long weekend of leisurely breakfasts, hours of listening, one major snowstorm and an unplanned overnight stay at their place, my partner and I decided to plan another visit to Vermont for later this year — this time just to hang out.

Writing a thesis on Stanley offered a precedent for contacting him, but there are so many other ways you can connect with artists whose work you admire, beyond Instagram. One strategy is to show up at their exhibition and work up the courage to start a conversation. Or attend a lecture they are giving and work up the confidence to ask them a question about their process or ideas. Depending on how established they are you may offer to help them in some way in their studio. If they are close to your age or are at a similar place in their career, you may ask to include them in a show you’re curating. If you are into writing, try submitting a pitch to an online magazine like ArteFuse to cover an exhibition which gives you a good excuse to interview the artist.  

Deborah Yanagisawa, one of our career counselors, emphasizes the the importance of taking an interest in other artists’ work as an alternative to self-promotion. When talking with her recently, she suggested that in order to gain attention, you are better off connecting with others through a genuine interest in their work and ideas than to make it “all about you.”

2. Have an expert review your residency applications. 

You may already know that our staff at the CCPD can help you prepare a strong cover letter and resume for a job. We also can help you prepare a successful application for an artist grant or residency.  Deborah Yanagisawa and Rhonda Schaller  have years of experience reviewing residency and grant applications. Rhonda is the author of Create your Art Career and Creative Mind, Business Mind. Deborah Yanagisawa, a multi-media artist, has years of experience in evaluating grants and business plans for artists. Deborah and Rhonda offer specific support with applications but are also available for more general career counseling and coaching. Sign up for a meeting with one of them to help clarify your projected career path or to hone the story you are telling about your path so far.  

For support with the nitty-gritty of artist residency applications, experts at The New York Foundation for the Arts, better known as NYFA, can help you by reviewing your application, work samples, artist resume, statement and more. They offer two different review formats: Work Sample Review and Doctor’s Hours. Doctor’s Hours are available at specific times and via Skype. According to the website, established visiting artists and critics offering feedback are prepared to advise “visual or multi-disciplinary artists and curators on portfolio presentation, grant proposals, applications for exhibitions and residencies, and curatorial project proposals” and artist statements. 

NYFA Coaching provides similar, customized feedback. You can book an appointment any time by following this link : https://www.nyfa.org/Content/Show/NYFA-Coaching

3. Curate and organize an exhibition – and not just your thesis show. 

Organizing an exhibition can familiarize you with all of the other elements that surround and shape our experiences with artwork. Curating is something that any artist would benefit from doing. It could also serve you later if you plan on applying to a job in a gallery or as an artist assistant.

Where? you ask  

For one, you can curate a show on Pratt’s campus. In the past, there has been an April 30 deadline for applying to curate an exhibition on campus. For more information, contact SKY (Seokyong Yoon) at syoon21@pratt.edu.  These organizations also accept curatorial proposals:  

CUE Foundation, 

Field Projects Gallery 

Open Source Gallery   

LaBodega Gallery 

 4. Attend one (or several) lectures/symposia/public programs at other institutions. 

Many galleries and museums, such as The Drawing Center, host gallery walk-throughs and lectures with the artists and curators. One of my personal favorite art institutions in the city, The Drawing Center hosts myriad other enriching public programs and events — including musical interpretations of artists’ work,  interactive drawing workshops and critical debates. In addition to all of the other public programs and events hosted by the New York City museums, virtually all other fine arts schools and departments host lectures. There is just so much.

5. Sign up for artist registries.

In the vague sense by which this phrase is used, it’s good to put yourself out there. You want to rest assured that when curators and collectors are searching through online artist registries for fresh talent, you will be there to be found. 

Here is a start: 

BRIC Contemporary Artist Registry 


White Columns Curated Artist Residency 


 — Kate Butler, Communications and Marketing Assistant, Artist