Art Demonstrations vs the Meaning of Art

It has been said that contemporary art is about the statement or meaning of the art and not about the artist’s process and technique to create it.

I have also heard that artists’ need to be cautious about being seduced by their medium. This means that working with any one medium becomes more important than what the art is suppose to be about. That you are more interested to see what you can do with the medium.

Is it therefore fair to say that art process demonstrations given at a gallery demean the meaning of the art? Furthermore does it reduce the art to technique which takes attention from the idea and focus it squarely on the how-to?

I would really like to know what your thoughts on this are. All comments are welcome.

Artists Should Add Online Collections to CV

It is a brave new world with the internet being so instrumental in an artists’ career. I think that it is only reasonable that artists should add online collections to CV.

This does need qualifying though. What exactly constitutes an online collection?

Grant it there are 100’s of sites that artists can submit their work to for free. These are portfolio sites that have 1000’s of searchable artists that anyone can become a member of. I’m not referring to these sites.

Websites that jury the artist submissions carry weight in the arts community. Not just anyone will be accepted. Just like submitting to a live gallery, an online gallery reviews your work and exhibition history to ensure you meet their curatorial vision.

For example:
A few years ago I submitted my Heels series to the “Virtual Shoe Museum”. They are strictly online, until recently (I’ll explain in a bit). Anyway, I sent images and a few months later they accepted a few of my pieces to be displayed on an artist page with my name. Cool!

I also submitted to “This is Colossal” which is a very popular arts site with a large readership. I would be very excited if they showed my work, but I haven’t heard back yet. And like most galleries, they state they will only contact me if interested.

I believe that it is VERY WORTH WHILE for artists to seek out these types of opportunities. Here’s why…

1. Exposure Exposure Exposure
2. Could lead to other opportunities.

Did I say “other opportunities”? YES!

Shortly after I was accepted into the Virtual Museum online collection, I was approached by the website curator Liza Snook. She was working on a major exhibition of shoe designers and artists for a six month show at the Grassi Museum in Leipzig Germany. Was I interested in sending “Step Lightly” to Germany? ABSOLUTELY!
Grassi Museum

How to list virtual collections in your CV

Listing online collections in your CV should be in a category of their own. They should not be included in the typical list of collections. This is because it is not an actual sale, no one purchased your work. But I believe that online collections are valid as it demonstrates that you are active in the arts community and the arts community now includes the internet.

Here’s how I listed my online collection:

Virtual Collections
The Virtual Shoe Museum, Artist Page: Kim Bruce

You can see it here on my CV. Notice I kept it under the main Collections title but separated from the main list.

Do you agree that artists should add online collections to their CV?

Also I would (and every other artist) like to know if you have resources to share on reputable online collection websites that you have submitted to. Please leave a link to your online collections.

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Kim Bruce Awarded AFA Grant – Here’s some Tips that Helped Me

It is hard time consuming work to write a grant application especially for a visual person to whom words do not come as naturally as imagery. But if you’re willing to invest the time you will find that there are all sorts of benefits even if you are not successful. The least of which is that you will know yourself and your work that much better and may come out of it with one hell of an artist statement.

© Kim Bruce- Well HeeledI don’t think there is a magic formula to writing a grant proposal. You just have to write as if the jurors know absolutely nothing about you or your work. We are so close to our work that it can be difficult to remove oneself and talk about the project as if the reader knows nothing about you. Things that are obvious to you may not be to the jury.

Here are some things that may help you write your grant proposal.

  1. Do not try to make the grant program fit what you want to do. You as the applicant and your proposed project must meet the program eligibility guidelines
  2. Allow several weeks to prepare your application in order to research costs and logistics, draft a timeline/schedule, book equipment or space rental, gather support materials, and so on.
  3. You can apply early. As long as your proposal has been mailed in prior to your commencement date, you can start even though the deadline may be a few months away. I applied in December in order to start in January but the deadlines wasn’t until February.
  4. Create a Table of Contents in your draft application document to ensure you include all required information.
  5. Write down thoughts as they occur to you. Little snippets of ideas can really help you formulate your proposal and they can come to you when you’re doing something else.
  6. Keep a notebook by your bed so you can jot thoughts down.
  7. When preparing the budget I was told that it helps if you contribute financially to the project. For example in my budget I included travel to and from the exhibition as part of the projects budget but did not ask for that amount.
  8. Have someone proof read and not just for punctuation but for comprehension.

The AFA (Alberta Foundation for the Arts) has a really good General Tips document that helps you formulate your outline and write your prose.

These 4 questions from the grant tips really helped me get clear on what I need to write about.

  1. What you are you doing stylistically, technically, etc. to realize your “artistic vision” for this project?
  2. Will your project lead to technical as well as aesthetic challenges?
  3. Does this new project mark an artistic departure from your previous work?
  4. Or does this project build on and develop further your artistic activity to date?

If you follow the tips and organize your outline exactly as they have laid out it will remove a lot of confusion and provide some structure to work within.

I had a couple of things in my favour for this particular grant application. First, I already had an exhibition scheduled for the work I was going to produce. And second, I will be the only Canadian (Albertan) artist in this international exhibition.

I put emphasis on these 2 points when writing my proposal.  It probably also helped that the exhibition has a curator.

If you are writing a grant, even if it for another institution, the A.F.A. General Tips document will probably help you understand and organize your proposal. They also have a great Digital Images Tip document for photographing work and a budget example to use as a template. All are available to download from the AFA’s website.

Alberta Foundation for the Arts

Kim Bruce gratefully acknowledges the grant support from the A.F.A. to produce the work in the Heels series.


Submission Fees

More and more you see calls to artists where there is a $25 to $35 submission fee. I have also seen some that are asking for $10 per image submitted. This fee doesn’t guarantee that you are in the show only that you can submit.

I have also noticed that alot of calls state that you the artist, have to incur the cost of shipping the work to and from the gallery. I found this from a website call:

“Shipped works must be sent in an easily reusable container/packaging with return shipping prepaid, and include the return shipping label with the work.”

I get it that in order to survive that some galleries need to levee these charges especially artists run centers.

I was juried into a The Sculptors Society of Canadian a few years ago. They are based in Toronto and I live in Alberta. In order to show in the gallery I have to pay a $50 submission fee as well as pay for the transport of my work there and back. This is a great group and a lovely gallery and I get it that they don’t have a lot of funding. For a venue like this perhaps it would be alright to participate and pay the submission fees maybe once a year???

I still don’t think artists should have to pay submission fees to show their work! I have always had a policy never to pay submission fees to exhibit my work especially not to a vanity gallery.

Do you pay submission fees to galleries to show your work?


Preparing Installation Work for Exhibition


Weather it is a group or a solo exhibition if you are showing in a Public Art Gallery you have responsibilities. NEVER assume anything, always ask. There are a number of responsibilities you have as a exhibiting artist but in this post we’re going to talk about the installation of an installation work.

What you need to know:

Ask for a floor plan for the space?
If at all possible visit the gallery yourself to become familiar with the space and take your own measurements. If you can’t be there ask for a floor plan and pictures. You may need to make adjustments if for example the ceiling height is higher/lower or your allotted wall space is different than anticipated.

When are the installation dates?
If you can be there to install try to do it earlier rather than later. This will give you the time you need in case something unforeseen happens and save you from being there until midnight or finding yourself short of materials and all the stores are closed.

What technical support is available?
Again never assume that the gallery will know what to do with your work. More often than not artist run centers and galleries that are not the MoMA, have student installers who are there to learn and earn credits.

What equipment and tools are available for installation?
If your work has any special hanging requirements talk about it with your gallery contact. You might be required to supply the special installation items so give yourself plenty of time to source suppliers. Make sure you describe your work, how it was made and what attacheds it to the wall.

I always bring my tools with me because I know I’ll have the right size drill bit, etc. Also if you need electrical outlets ask about extension cord routes to your installation, you might have to supply your own extension cords.

Do a dry run: install your work in your studio.
Chances are you have done this to create the work in the first place, but if you are grouping pieces to create an installation work like I have done with the piece Cruciform, then don’t think that you can figure it out on site. A dry run will help you work the bugs out of the installation process and it confirms your dimensions.

Map it: do a drawing indicating dimensions and a starting point for the install. It will also make the real install go so much quicker and smoother.

If the show is out-of-town give the gallery installation instructions and drawings with dimensions. Photograph the work from various angles already installed and send them with the instructions.

If there is a catalogue being published for the exhibit, ask what type and how extensive a publication it will be. Often artists with installation work will not have a professional print ready image of the piece being shown. Don’t count on getting those images from the gallery when they document the exhibition as this may be too late to be included in the catalogue.

At the end of the exhibit
Find out when the work will be coming down and try to be there to disassemble the work. Sometimes the work doesn’t come down the same way it went up so make sure that uninstall instructions are also included with the work when sending out-of-town.

Always be ready and you will have the best show ever.