"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

no guggie again

This was the second year I applied for a Guggenheim Fellowship. This was the second time I didn't receive one.

We artists are a curious group for many reasons, one of which is that most of us are constantly setting ourselves up for rejection of some kind. Like the writers, painters and filmmakers I know, in order to get my work "out there" I have to put it in front of curators, editors, gallerists and the viewing public on a regular basis. Sometimes that's fun and successful, and other times it's kind of like hearing your parent say to your younger self upon presenting a paper or drawing about which you feel really proud: "Can't you do any better than this? Sorry, but it's just not that good!"

Of course, most of us do have jobs that involve rejection: getting passed over for a raise or promotion, getting fired, not receiving any slaps on the back for a job well-done, etc. I know artists aren't alone when we feel under appreciated for the work we do. Perhaps it's just more public and more regular. As well, if there is no support from publications, galleries, fellowships, etc. the artist is compelled to find other means of financial support. It's kind of a shame that the woman who wants to be a dentist can to school to study it, can get a degree and then get a job looking into the mouths of her patients, while the woman who wants to be an artist goes to school to study it, gets a degree and then, more often than not, waits tables or, worse yet continues to make art, but in a "lowest common denominator" kind of way to make it mainstream and accessible. Many teach and have little or no time to make their own work.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. I'm always excited to meet an artist who has managed to make his/her way on the artwork alone, especially when highly personal projects are involved.

As I said in my emails to those who wrote letters on my behalf for the Guggenheim, I will continue to plug away at this goal, as I'm not one to give up easily. In the meantime, I'll continue to be passionate about and grateful for my "job" as a photographer. 

I just wish there was a different way to go about this career, one that didn't require such a herculean effort to attain enough acceptance letters to keep moving forward.

(Oh, did I mentioned all the requests for donated or pro-bono work?)

I'm eager to hear who did get the Guggies in photography this year. I'll certainly offer each of them a hearty congratulations. 

And hope for the best next year.

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