Organized by Alyssa Arney and Natalie Mik
Text by Natalie Mik
About the Project
‘Apartment Art: A Group Exhibition’ is exploring the question what contemporary female art represents in the 21st century. Furthermore the project triggers the question to what extent existing institutions and their status-quo critical and theoretical structures are still playing a role in today’s art world, and what actually still makes and moves the emerging artists to create and continue to practice art. The group exhibition was curated along a survey, which entails in-depth interviews with the participating artists and their stories of their life and work. The exhibition was on view at the Indy Indie Artist Colony in Indianapolis.
Sixteen talented artists, among them my dearest friend Alyssa Arney, had come together on a Facebook group website with the goal to produce new artworks for a gallery exhibit. When all the artists had finally gathered, there was a realization that everyone happened to be female, sustaining their life with a day job, while tirelessly continuing to produce art with limited resources from their homes post-graduation from art school. The media they use and their themes through which they communicate to their audience couldn’t be more diverse. However, their common interest was to reach a wider network of audiences through exhibiting their works in a physical space of a traditional gallery setting.
When I was asked to co-curate this exhibition, I was in the midst of doing research on new platforms that facilitate the democratization of the fine art and how different ways of curatorial practice can aid in the whole process. The topic of significance and even possibility of democratization of fine art is definitely a contentious field that deserves its own discussion, but nevertheless the idea of this exhibition got me instantly excited because it demonstrated a highly representative case of emerging female artists taking the initiative to show their art and act completely in contrast to any kind of hegemony that occurs in the process of curating and showing art in a gallery setting.
As it turned out, curating this show enabled me to gain valuable insight on why we must focus on “going back to the artists” when conceptualizing an exhibition and why the art exhibition ultimately has to be a place where the artists’ voice is advocated. This should be the very first step of every effort to democratize or even create equity in gender, race and minorities prevalent in present-day fine art. Apartment Art was born from the need to expose and understand the work and life of today’s female contemporary artists. Who are they? Why are they making art? And what do they want to say?
We live in a time where millions of emerging artists have to compete each year to exhibit their work in 6,500+ art galleries existing nationwide. It is a challenge in this world for artists to keep art as their main occupation. Collaborative endeavors like ‘The Gallery Tally Poster Project’, that have tallied and visualized statistical data pertaining to the number of male and female artists who were represented by contemporary art galleries, are good examples of how conscious-raising efforts can be powerful enough to create community, discourse and change. Apartment Art is to be seen as another important effort to not only break the average of less than 30 percent of female artists represented in art museums and galleries in the United States, but ultimately to give them a voice and a place to present themselves. As an extension of this exhibition it was important for me to develop the exhibition project into a case study, by conducting interviews with the participating artists. The results have been incorporated into the exhibition catalog and into the whole curatorial process. Apartment Art has become an on-going project, which will hopefully continue to enrich the experience of artists and its viewers.
Apartment Art is honest by sharing the pride, fear and hope of what it is to be a female contemporary artist in the 21st century. Apartment Art is real because it contains the raw voice of every single participating artist. Apartment Art is intimate by exposing art that is created in the most intimate spaces of the artists. The viewer will witness a precise reflection of the artists’ life. Apartment Art is powerful because the emotions within the works are untouched and intact – revealed to the public for the very first time.
Installation and Opening Reception
Apartment Art: A Group Exhibition
By: Alyssa Arney and Natalie Mik