That's why the Kimball Art Center conceived its Relevant Artist program two years ago as part of the Park City Kimball Art Festival, said Chris Brady, director of multimedia and special projects for the KAC.
"Relevant was originally inspired by the Sundance Labs model," Brady said. "Our goal was to provide real life experience to the Relevant residents by teaming them up with commercially successful artist mentors who could share their life stories and working art world knowledge to help them make the transition from Fine Arts Graduate to real world, working artist."
This year, five up-and-coming artists from around the country will convene in Park City for an eight-day residency beginning today, July 28, to learn the tricks of the trade from their mentors and local gallery owners..
"We provide them with work spaces, materials and lodging and introductions to patrons," Brady said. "The residency includes roundtable discussions with local gallery owners and professional advice from public relations and marketing professionals.
"The Relevant program also provides a platform of exposure for the emerging artists and the chance to put their work in our annual Auction and in their very own exhibition in our Main Gallery," Brady said.
The artists for the 2012 Kimball Art Center Relevant Artist program are Lindsay Carone, Jeremy Emmendorfer, Zahra Nazari, Haigen Pearson and Matthew Reimers.
Lindsay Carone, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, R.I.
Background: Carone, who grew up in South Salem, N.Y., before attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she received her bachelor of fine arts degree with in sculpture, is working on her masters in Sculpture at Rhode Island School of Design, she said. Caron also spent two years as an Emerging Artist in Residence at Millersville University, according to the short biography she submitted to the Kimball Art Center.
Thoughts about being a Relevant Artist: "Through the Relevant Residency, I hope to continue to expand my technical knowledge and to create work that not only synthesizes ideas presented in the works I have already completed, but also furthers the concepts and materials that I have been exploring," Caron said in an email to The Park Record. "I think it will be intensely rigorous to start and finish everything here in just one week, but working towards the Park City Kimball Arts Festival is an exciting final goal. It's such an honor to have the chance to be a part of this motivated and driven group of emerging artists in residence. Community is an invaluable component of my creative process."
Mentor: Sculptor Andrew Smith of Lehi, Utah
Goals as a mentor: "To be honest, I don't exactly know at the moment," Smith said with laugh. "This is the first time I've done anything like this, because I'm so usually heavily involved with my own work. When the Kimball asked me to participate, I felt the need to step out of my own personal space. Although I'm unschooled in the art. When I was entering the art world, my dad, Dennis Smith, who was an artist, was my mentor, but I have maybe an equivalent to one year in art school. So, what I have learned through most of my career came through trial and error, and maybe my insights on that path will give the artists a different perspective."
Jeremy Emmendorfer, Western Michigan University, Kalamzoo, Mich.
Background: "I can always remember drawing and doing a lot of creative things when I was a kid," Emmendorfer said during an interview. "I never thought about doing something in art for a career. I just enjoyed making things. When I got into college, I didn't know what I wanted to do. Some friends of mine went to art school and started taking classes, too.
I took classes from all the different areas and started doing printmaking. A lot of printmakers will tell you that they are meticulous. It's just the way it is and that called to me. It's something that I enjoy doing.
Thoughts about being a Relevant Artist: "Personally, I love learning from other people," he said. "I love to interact with other people and enjoy a sense of community, especially with other artists. I like bouncing ideas off other people and that's where I get a lot of my ideas. My goal is to learn from the artists and mentors and, hopefully, teach them something, too."
How has art enhanced his life: "I've always been creative, but it's added many things to my life," he said. "I've met a lot of people and done a lot of things I would never imagine to do if I hadn't gone into art. Also, I have learned about some of my friends through their art. In fact, I met up with one of my old high school teachers and I told her I was studying printmaking and she told me about her husband, who was a printmaker, too. I thought it was funny how it all comes back at the end."
Mentor: Mixed media artist Danielle Wyckoff, professor, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, and former Spiro Arts Resident
Goals as a mentor: "I have forced myself to sit down and think about what it means to be a mentor, because it's so involved," Wyckoff told The Park Record. "I'm an artist, but also an educator and take the role of being a mentor seriously. It's about being, in part, an advocate for the emerging artist, but also to know when to challenge him. Jeremy and I are both printmakers by training and we know a lot of the same people. We're going into a program that is called 'relevant,' and as a mentor I would like to give him some platforms through which he can think about his own work. On a more practical concern, when I got out of school and went into the art profession, I experienced some embarrassing transitions. I want to help ease him into the situations like finding gallery representation or showing him other routes he would be interested in."
Zahra Nazari, Memphis College of Art, Memphis, Tenn.
Background: "Visual arts were something I was deeply interested when I was a child in Iran," Nazari said in a phone interview from Tennessee. "I was interested in my surroundings and began painting and drawing images from what I saw. I also began drawing things that I saw on postcards and magazines. I even cut things out from the newspaper. My family thought I was crazy and threw a lot of my collections out. At first, I thought I was doing something bad, but later, as I learned about art, I understood it was something that was in my soul. I chose painting because all the colors and shapes that you see in a painting is more attractive to me than what I see in charcoal."
Thoughts about being a Relevant Artist: "Because my work is based on my environment, I'm eager to come to Park City and add a new landscape to my life experience," Nazari said. "Also, by observing and taking photographs, I can use those images as source materials for my paintings. I have already seen so many pictures from Park City and noticed how different the landscape is. That is so exciting for me. I learned about the program from one of my professors, and I was a little nervous about making a video, because English is my second language. It was something that I wanted to do and I'm so excited about doing it. I think this will affect my future work."
How has art influenced her life: "From the beginning of the day, I look around at things that are around me with more curiosity," she said. "I try to follow the shadows and shapes around me when they begin to change throughout the day. What I see and what I hear, even music, enhances my imagination and give me ideas about my work."
Mentor: Painter Rick Stich, Santa Barbara, Calif.
Goals as a mentor: "My essential goal in working with Zahra is to enjoy the opportunity to work with a young artist and to try to do a little bit for her development, the way so many artists have done for me over the past years," Stich said in an email. "Mostly, the message was, 'Be yourself,' everything else is academic."
Haigen Pearson, University of Utah
Background: "I've always loved photography and my mom gave me a camera while I was growing up in Sandy," Pearson said in an interview. "I also had an interest in graphic design as well, so making images as a whole has been something I wanted to do. For the past 12 years, I've been a self-taught graphic designer, but decided to go back to school to study photography. Exploring the fine-art side of photography has been amazing, and I enjoy shooting with film and using a digital camera, too. I took my first photography class when I was in eighth grade and used a darkroom, but I treated the class like an elective. I liked it, but didn't really experience it. When I started taking classes at the U., I got back into the darkroom, after working with digital images for so long, and I rediscovered the magic of seeing an image come to life in the darkroom."
Thoughts about being a Relevant Artist: "When I put together the application, I had to think about what makes me relevant as an artist. For me, any artist who is creates a piece of work or something that can be seen is something that is relevant. It's just a matter of having the courage to jump out there to be seen. It doesn't matter if only one person sees the work or one million people see it."
How has art enhanced his life: "I draw inspiration from everywhere, whether it's from a book or something I see in architecture," he said. "I also have friends who are painters. So, I surround myself with all types of art, because I don't like to limit myself."
Mentor: Edward Bateman, professor, University of Utah
Goals as a mentor: "As a mentor, my goal is to help guide the person I'm working with discover and develop their own creative process," Bateman said in a telephone interview. "This involves creating an attitude and space where this can happen. A big part of the process is to stay open to possibilities until you really understand what your creative goals are. I like to share some of my own strategies and really listen to the other artist. Often a great question at this point is much more valuable than any answer. It's a pretty magical process."
Matt Reimers, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, Minn.
Background: "When I was eight or nine years old, I fell in love with painting after I stumbled across this Renaissance coffee-table book and saw paintings by Rafael, Giotto and all those guys," Reimers told The Park Record. "I had tried other things, but it always came back to painting, and I couldn't deny that I liked making marks on a surface. I like to utilize as many different mediums as possible, whether they are encaustics, enamels, latex, acrylic or inks. I like to explore as much as possible and see what avenue they take me.
Goals as a Relevant Artist: "I would like to work on a larger-than-human-scale abstract painting in a removed environment," he said. "I want to get away from the academic structures and be able to dive into just painting and get lost in it for a week. I also think working with a small peer group while I'm in Park City will be nice."
What are some of the impacts that art has made in his life: "It's been the perfect philosophical medium for me," he said. "I've been allowed to free myself from the structures of language and dive off into any other side paths I want and explore whatever ideas I need to. It's like having freedom to float into space, and that's the most valuable thing I can think of in my life. Expressing myself in art seems more effective than expressing myself in conventional language and any spoken word. Art, especially abstract art, allows me to communicate with a lot of issues all at once."
Mentor: Painter Brent Godfrey, Salt Lake City, Utah
Goals as a mentor: "I am approaching my mentorship very openly, ready to move in whatever direction is needed," Godfrey said in an email. "Having been a professional painter for many years, I bring an understanding of life in the trenches outside of academia. While academics will not be ignored, I hope to build bridges of understanding between the processes of creating quality work and the complexities of thriving as a working artist."
The Kimball Art Center's Relevant Artists exhibit will open at the KAC, 638 Park Ave., during the Park City Kimball Art Festival on Saturday, Aug. 4, and displayed through Sunday, Sept. Sept. 30. For more information, visit www.kimballartcenter.org/relevant/