Student Forums
A journal of social practice & professional engagement for the Antioch community

Artistic Skill, Creative Work, and Art Philosophy: Benally ’16 at Black Sheep Art Collective in Phoenix, Arizona

Throughout my co-op I have been working with artists Averian Chee and Jeff Slim of the Black Sheep Art Collective in Phoenix. Recently, each artist had an art opening to prepare for, so I helped on many different aspects of the show. I helped each artist market the show by writing about it, creating the fliers, and publicizing the event through various social networks and community spaces. Aside from these two separate shows there were other marketing and publicity projects. I helped develop a presence in the city by helping make prints and screen printing shirts. There were also moments that I worked separately on designing my own shirt and print designs. I felt that it made me realize that the production process for various projects are very accessible. Each artist approached these projects in their own d.i.y way. This made creating ideas for projects a lot less intimidating and more fun.

Recently, however, I have been working with Bill Dambrova, an artist who is teaching me about art from a completely different perspective. Bill Dambrova is a well-known artist in the Phoenix and Los Angeles area. Dambrova is good at the business side of art. This is an important side of art especially if you want to make art your full time career. With Dambrova we have been learning how to apply for grants and artist residencies. He has also just been teaching me how to write about my art and how to write more professionally for events and press. Additionally, aside from learning this, we have also been working on painting two dozen boxes that will be used for a dance company. I find that working with Dambrova I am learning more of what I want to learn. Dambrova is helping me see what I want to see with art. What I mean by this, is that I love the way that art can incorporate movement and be juxtaposed with other forms of art. When art can work with other forms of art, all towards the same mood or feeling, that’s where I would like my art to exist.

In the past month I have begun to develop a definition of art that is personal. Here I have learned to screen print, stencil, build canvases, start paintings, sketch, and paint among other things. Learning these different skills has given me more respect for artists who take art as serious as a profession. I have learned when I work best on art, what inspires me, and what I like in other artists and their art. Philosophy and reading has become much more close to me as a form of inspiration for creating art and music. The artists that I work with are very hardworking and it is good to see that now. It is not easy to survive making art as a profession. Social life can be very important to an artist if you are looking to collaborate with other artists and make new connections and begin to push yourself further into the art world. I learned that a lot of the time it is necessary to be naïve in order to push your art into new territory and make more connections. Being naïve makes it easy to take chances and try something new.

Overall, I think that my best experience working here has been from making things that I never thought that I would be making. For instance, Averian Chee and I have started talking and designing art toys that we will begin to make soon. I have always wanted to make art toys and I think that it’s super awesome that something that I have only thought about is coming to reality. The best part of interning with these artists is that I can make something out of anything and I can become inspired from anything as well.

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