Lonnie Holley, Riding Through My Roots Too Fast, 2004, Old motorcycle frame, found wood, 59 × 77 inches, Courtesy of James Fuentes, New York and The Brant Foundation.
Tuesday, January 14
7:00PM - 9PM
Doors open at 6:30PM
Theater @New Museum
New York, NY 10002
Outsider Art Fair New York hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday, January 14th, Just Don't Call it Practice!, moderated by Bill Arning, with artist and musician Lonnie Holley, Drawing Center Executive Director Laura Hoptman and artist Marilyn Minter.
This year’s panel discussion considered a 2007 article written by Roberta Smith for the New York Times, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Art," that critiqued the distancing and taming language of professionalization, specifically terms such as “practice” and “product.” Market realities, language, and criticism often make artists more professional and less adventurous. Conversely, outsider artists are, for the most part, untethered to art world conventions, not concerned with pleasing the three C’s (Critics, Curators and Collectors). When an artist refers to their own “practice" it indicates they are safe to be around. Smith took issue with the term, which is still commonly used today:
1. The implication that artists, like lawyers, doctors and dentists, need a license to practice.
2. The implication that an artist, like a doctor, lawyer or dentist, is trained to fix some external problem.
3. “Practice" sanitizes a very messy process. It suggest that art making is a kind of white-collar activity whose practitioners don’t get their hands dirty, physically or emotionally.
4. It converts art into a hygienic desk job and signals a basic discomfort with the physical mess as well as the unknowable, irrational side of art making.
How have the rules changed in 2020 and where do we see the professionalization of art careers helping or hurting culture in the future? How do artists who have achieved museum sanctioned careers keep the edge that made them want to be artists in the first place? What differences (or similarities) are there between self-taught and academically trained artists with regard to how they think about and create their work? What do we find appealing or unappealing about those differences?