From a table at the front of the University Theater, seven artists stared out into a crowd of California State University, Long Beach students on Sunday as they discussed the aims and realities of becoming a professional artist.
The panel, part of the Greater Los Angeles Master of Fine Arts exhibition, focused on how artists get their art in galleries, what goes into presenting art to curators and collectors and how the artist community interacts with each other.
Panelist and artist Kendell Carter said that with opportunities like studio visits, “sometimes expectations generate disappointment.”
“You have to keep in mind that most studio visits are just studio visits,” said Michelle Joan Papillion, one of the panelists and owner of PAPILLION, a contemporary art gallery in Los Angeles. “It does not mean you will get picked up by a curator or that someone will want to sell your pieces.”
Jamaal Tolbert, another panelist whose art focuses on social, political and cultural issues, said that the most important thing for artists looking to be noticed by curators is to be present and clean within their own art spaces.
“Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if you’re the smartest or best artist,” said Diedrick Brackens, a panelist and Assistant Professor of Fiber at CSULB. “If you’re not present and in the moment, it’s very easy for someone to not be interested in what you have to offer.”
The panelists also fielded questions about the art itself, like how to measure its change, effect and influence on those who see an artists’ work.
Papillion said that the conversation often starts now with social media, allowing an open, continuous dialogue between artists and their audience.
“There was a girl who Googled my birth name and found my ‘Alien She’ piece,” said LJ Roberts, a panelist whose art focuses on gender, queer and trans politics. “And [she] had it saved as her desktop wallpaper for like a year and wrote me her story.”
Students have organized and curated GLAMFA for the past 11 years as a response to CSULB being invisible to the arts community, according to the event’s homepage. It now acts as a platform for graduate art students to display their pieces in the art community surrounding Los Angeles.
The annual exhibition, which will run from Aug. 24 to Sep. 3, will feature submissions from master’s students from as far as Santa Barbara and San Diego.
CSULB student studios will be open to the public from 4-8 p.m. on Aug. 31 only.