Artists Gotta Eat and Other Things We Forget To Remember
An essay for Common Field’s 2019 Field Perspectives published on Sixty Inches From Center
When I entered this work over a decade ago, I did so with the recognition that curators, administrators, arts writers, and the organizations and institutions they work for wouldn’t have a purpose if not for the artists whose work they build their careers and missions around. It’s such a simple point and seems like common sense (as do many of the cases I’m making), but it all bears repeating.
Rather than preach to the choir of artists who navigate this unsustainable lifestyle on a regular basis, I’d much rather speak to those who design opportunities and urge them to create more equitable scenarios across all of their offerings to artists.
As an independent curator, freelance writer, co-founder of a small nonprofit, and a cultural worker who has concurrently held full-time, part-time and contract positions at city arts agencies, galleries at major universities, arts alliances, a foundation, and other kinds of arts organizations, I’ve experienced, facilitated, and been the creator of a range of artist opportunities. I’ve been screwed over, learned from my own mistakes, and sacrificed my own compensation for the sake of the artists I’ve worked with. Then, while channeling my experiences as a freelance and contract worker, I’ve sat at the brainstorming tables in large, well-resourced institutions and fought for larger stipends, separate material budgets, and additional funds that consider the hidden costs that reduce the payments artists are initially given. From these experiences, I’ve come up with a handful of things that institutional opportunity-makers should add to their list of considerations when working with artists.
Read the full essay here…
 Image of two bills of 500 pesos, one above the other and on a black surface with some hidden text between the bills. The top bill shows a portrait of artist Diego Rivera and the one below it shows a portrait of artist Frida Kahlo. Photo taken January 2016 by Tempestt Hazel.
 Common Field’s Field Perspectives image.