Click photo to enlarge
Relevant Artist mentor Reni Gower (Photo courtesy of the Kimball Art Center)
The mentors for the 2013 Kimball Art Center Relevant Artists were asked some questions regarding their thoughts about the program.

Reni Gower

Relevant artist: Stephanie Kelly Clark

What is your goal as a mentor to the artist?

Art has been an intuitive following of the heart from day one and that's one of the reasons I got into teaching. The teaching practice is what I do and I feel like I've never really left academia. I've been a student and a professor and I don't think I've been away from school one year out of my professional life.

It's all tied into that interest. The mentoring is another extension to that teaching that I feel strongly about. It's about helping the younger artists make or find their way to sustain their career aspirations. I've been teaching professional practices for almost 25 years to our undergraduate students and I feel strongly about creating opportunities for themselves and how to enlarge those opportunities.

Why is the Relevant program important for these artists?

Sadly, many schools don't have a professional practices course in their curriculum, so the student is launched and either sinks or swims. Most of them find things out by the seats of their pants and through the mistakes they make, like I did. So, this Relevant program is exciting because it pairs these artists with people like myself who have been out there for quite a while. We may not have all the answers, but we certainly have a wealth of experiences that we can share with them.


Advertisement

We can give them some strategies that will simplify or demystify things.

How has being a mentor, so far, helped with your own career perspective?

I don't know if it has changed my perspective because I've been mentoring throughout my career. I think it reinforces the concept of paying it forward and enforces what I know needs to be done.

Alexandra Grant

Relevant artist: Annie Ulrich

What is your goal as a mentor to the artist?

As in any encounter I have with an art student or younger artist, I'm interested in helping them better articulate their work in the world and perhaps brainstorm some new steps towards making that possible.

Why is the Relevant program important for these artists?

The Relevant program is an innovative platform for connecting artists and an art public in Park City — and beyond — within parameters that explore the artists' creativity and the role of philanthropy in the arts.

How has being a mentor, so far, helped with your own career perspective?

Annie is a recent graduate from Middlebury College in Vermont. As I also went to a liberal arts college I'm interested in working with a young artist from that background and perhaps being a part of her path from student to professional artist — which will give me the opportunity to reflect on my own path.

John Bell

Relevant artist: Joann Poirier

What is your goal as a mentor to the artist?

(I want) to impart some advise and wisdom that helps accelerate the learning curve.

Why is the Relevant program important for these artists?

Other than looking good on a resume, getting a chance to work with and be mentored by a professional artist, you'll have to ask them that question...

How has being a mentor, so far, helped with your own career perspective?

It hasn't really started yet, beyond a few emails so it's hard to say.

Katina Houvouras

Relevant artist: Etsuko Kato Hansen

What is your goal as a mentor to the artist?

My goal as a mentor is to take what I've learned from photographers I've worked with, and from my experience as a photographer, and share that knowledge and inspiration with the Relevant artists in residence. Ideally, I'd like to give guidance when needed to help the artists develop their vision and their craft.

Why is the Relevant program important for these artists?

Relevant offers these artists an opportunity to learn how to be a working artist after college and graduate school. It's a unique program that exposes them to gallery owners, marketing specialists, art collectors, mentors and others who can shed light on the business side of the art world. While art schools often take a scholarly approach of studying technique, theory, and art history, Relevant focuses on the reality of working as an artist, promoting one's art, getting gallery representation, and staying true to one's vision while being a successful artist.

How has being a mentor, so far, helped with your own career perspective?

Being a mentor, so far, has reminded me how important it is to build relationships with other artists and to have trustworthy and constructive feedback on one's work. Being an artist, much of one's time is spent alone at work. It's energizing and inspiring to participate in a program that brings artists together to learn from each other and ultimately benefit everyone's work and creativity.

Colin Gray

Relevant artist: Rob McKirdie

What is your goal as a mentor to the artist?

To mirror to Rob, the feelings, thoughts and ideas, that come to me while contemplating his work. It takes courage to be an artist, and that means one has to find the strength of heart to express what is true for you, regardless of what anybody thinks. As a mentor I would like to support and encourage a deepening search for what is true for any artist. I feel as we go deeper into our individual work, we can also get closer to universal truths we all share.

Why is the Relevant program important for these artists?

It is easy to feel ignored as an artist! A program like this has the opposite effect. It makes it clear that there is value in what artists do.

How has being a mentor, so far, helped with your own career perspective?

It has made me reflect on artists who have been important to me in the past, either through spending time with them, most notably Ed Kienholz, and others such as David Hockney and Tony Cragg, as well as artiss whose names will never be in the lights, but who illuminated nonetheless, and numerous artists I never met, but stood as bastions of strength to their own truth.