emerge: to come forth into view or notice, as from concealment or obscurity.
Shortly after graduating from art school in 2003 I was accepted into an Emerging Artists group show in Georgetown. At the time I thought it was something that would garner recognition and allow me to eventually move out of my parents house in the suburbs of DC. I was wrong. Reality was that it wasn't that easy. I did eventually move out, but only after I accepted a steady, well-paying government job. For years I was in the grind, working full-time during the day and going to the studio at night. I felt like I was not really an Emerging Artist, but a Struggling Artist. Fast forward 15 years, and although I'm blessed to have a successful studio practice, it has required extreme dedication and self-reflection on a daily basis.
Being an artist isn't all about recognition though. It's about the desire to always want to create and to find inspiration in something new and unexpected. It's a life-long journey, requiring an incessant desire to make and perfect our craft, and to share it with the world.
The term Emerging Artist came back to me last weekend while serving as a reviewer at a local Portfolio Review (hosted in conjunction with the East Coast Art Collective's group show at Willow Street Gallery). It was my first time sitting on the reviewer side of the table so I was probably just as intimidated as the artists on the other side. The last time I had my portfolio reviewed was for a grad school interview in 2003 and it was intimidating and not inspirational whatsoever.
What I learned being a reviewer is that there are so many artists out there in our community who are starting out and are excited and inspired to make art. All they need is a little encouragement and advice to get them started. Some were young artists who just moved into their first studio space or were searching for their own unique style. Many had been in the gallery scene for years but still hadn't found their audience. I was inspired by these artists and their willingness to put their art out there and receive constructive criticism from relative strangers. I also enjoyed hearing their goals and trying to figure out ideas for how to get them where they want to be. Nothing about being an artist is easy, but encouragement and networking will only make us that much stronger as a creative community.
Below: Emerging Artist Romper, available at the Whitney Shop, $28.