Several years ago I met an artist named Amy Stacey Curtis is one of the most productive artists I know, and it's not because her day is any longer than anyone else's. Amy works in Maine and, when I first met her, was several stages into a "solo biennial" project she had developed. Every two years she creates an interactive installation exhibit around a particular theme. She had nine themes in mind, beginning with Experience and ending with Memory. Fifteen years into this tremendously demanding project, Amy is now working toward an installation on Matter, having completed one on Space last fall. I was lucky enough to get to an early installation, Change, and we have remained in contact since, mostly through email.
I have always admired Amy for her dedication, discipline, and no-excuses approach to creating really challenging and interesting art and getting it out there. For each of these installations she must locate a space large enough to accommodate 9 specific installations. She raises funds to cover the costs of the events, the space, the materials, the publicity. She considers the administrative side of getting these installations made as part of the art-making process. That was a revelation to me. Instead of complaining that, as an artist, she shouldn't be burdened with all these telephone calls, emails, grant proposals, etc., she incorporated it right into the art-making process. This reminds me of Cristo, who felt that securing the site and getting the permissions was all part of the deal. And like Cristo, Amy creates drawings related to the theme to sell to help raise funds for the projects.
We bumped into each other a few weeks ago at an opening of the Patricia Ladd Carega Gallery for a mutual friend, C.C. White. Amy had to get back to Maine that evening so we did not have time to talk--just time enough to realize that we like to talk with each other. Amy suggested we Skype, so today we talked for about 45 min. It felt great to have time together even though I am in Oak Park, IL and she is in Maine. And as always, I felt I learned a lot from her conversation.
I love her discipline-- she is someone who does not waste her time. She said she spends 3-5 hours a day writing--1 hour of that is on a ms for a book she envisions laying out the process and content of her 9 solo biennials. The rest of the time she is writing grants, proposals, lesson plans for her teaching, administrative emails for her projects. She also spends 3-5 hours a day at her studio work--making drawings, at pre-production for her installations, conceptualizing her ideas. She limits herself to 15 min. a day on Facebook and LinkedIn, her choices of social media. Now that is discipline.
I asked her how she uses LinkedIn. Amy says that she only links with people she actually knows or people who's art is really interesting. She says she responds to every request by looking up their profile, thanking them for the invitation to link. She includes links to her website and work and asks if they have any questions for her. That way the conversation is already started. This again, is something I admire about Amy--she's very intentional about how she uses social media. She is also really good at reciprocating. If you take the trouble to get to know her work, come to her shows, or attend one of her talks, she makes every effort to check out your work, show up for your openings if she possibly can. Skype, LinkedIn, and Facebook are all ways she is able to extend her artistic community beyond the narrower confines of Maine, a very rural state with limited arts resources. And she absolutely makes the most of the resources available.
Amy will be having a solo show at the Portland Museum of Art titled "Nine Walks. The show opens October 3, 2013. And she will be giving a talk about the videos in this show in Dec. Get there if you possibly can.
Good luck Amy!