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Personal Economy #7

I am an interdisciplinary artist who makes sculpture, drawings, photographs, performances and installations. In the years 1989-1992 I made enough money off the sales of my work and grants to survive. Then my gallery stopped paying me regularly, (a very prominent NYC gallery), and then stopped paying me at all. I made a deal with them to trade the money owed me for art by a famous dead artist. I eeked by for the rest of the decade on show honoraria, lecture fees, adjunct teaching, occasional sales and freelance design jobs. Then I decided to use the art by the famous dead artist as collateral for a loan to buy a piece of property in NYC. I rent out part of it to help pay my mortgage. I then got a full-time teaching job, as I did not want to lose this bit of stability by defaulting on the loan. I’ve been teaching full time for a decade now. Making work is much more important to me than selling it, and now I only sell a small piece about once a year out of my studio. I find the commercial gallery system tiresome. I only accept museum shows when I am paid a decent honorarium and production costs, therefore I don’t show that often. I learned to say no. Much of my work is made from surplus and recycled materials. I try to be inventive. When I able, I always hire my ex-students to help, and I pay them a decent hourly rate. Three years ago I cashed out my retirement account from my teaching job to buy another piece of property, which I can rent out, sell, or live in. Last year I got a grant and a commission which was great! I am working towards getting my NYC property off the grid, and when I can afford it will install DIY solar panels and a wind jenny. I grow vegetables & herbs in my urban garden, and save money on groceries in the summer and fall. I feel very fortunate with the way my situation has played itself out. I am space rich and money poor.

One Comment on “Personal Economy #7”

  1. 1 anonymous said at 12:51 pm on March 8th, 2010:

    Acceptance for a Women’s Caucus For Art Award Chicago 2010

    Andy Wharhol told us we would get fifteen minutes of fame, but I see that the Women’s Cacus has had to cut it to five.
    I am deeply honored to receive this award, I would like to thank the Chicago Women’s caucus for art and applaud them for the work that they have done in supporting and remaining faithful to what bell hooks calls the only successful revolution of our time. I am especially honored by this particular award because it does not represent solipsistic, hypercompetitive individual attainments but service to a group. I would l like to thank colleagues here like xxxxxx and others who have been cordial, funny or intelligent. I would like to applaud their work.

    I would like to thank xxxxx whom I had the pleasure to introduce when she received the award some years ago.

    As you can see my aesthetic practice is and always has been what art speak labels as “divergent.” I would be more than happy to talk about my art with anyone who buys me a cup of coffee.
    I have had the pleasure and opportunity to write about women artists. You may not know this but writers depend on editors. No editor and you are just a blogger in the wilderness of the internet. To that effect, I would like to thank xxxxxx (formerly at the Chicago Reader) and xxxxxx, (formerly of Chicago Artist’s Coalition) two very supportive yet critical and intelligent editors. And xxxxx and xxxxx who very kind to me when I was taking care of my father, following the ethic of care.
    Women’s studies relies heavily on the concepts of Simone de Beauvoir —a founding mother—and her focus on the relationships between objects and subjects and the desire for freedom. Beauvoir tells us that in order not to be objects we can work and create on the same terms as men. One of the major problems of the day is that women in the workplace have unwittingly, one would hope, been very successful at reinscribing the paralyzing inequities of class.
    I was one of the people who started the part time union at xxxxx in 1992. I served later president and vice president. We worked together out of respect and admiration for one another to express our mutual interests. I was inspired by the activism of the Guerilla Girls. We (shout out to xxxxxxx here…) were able to triple the salaries of the artists, poets and filmmakers with whom we work. However, I have taught thousands of young ladies about women artists and writers all the while deceptively defined as part time temporary: not eligible for health insurance, benefits or support for creative production. As a member of the contingent workforce I am not yet making an entry level salary after 19 years of work for this institution. At least 300 other women are in this situation and some much worse.
    I realize this is a tea party and I wish we could all just rest on our laurels. Social injustice works like domestic violence, feeds on the silence and collusion of good people. However, I will leave with the news that Jeremy Rifkin has a new book in which presents good evidence that we, humans, men and woman, are hard-wired for empathy. So there is good reason for optimism.


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