Emerging Artist Conversation

Emerging Artist Conversation

by Nikki Devereux | 02.26.21

Last night was our Emerging Artist Conversation, in which all 10 of the 2020-2021 Emerging Artists got together with Danny Olda, manager of curatorial programming, content and engagement, to chat about our experience in the Creative Pinellas Emerging Artist Grant Program. We talked about the amazing development and growth that has come about from the mentorship aspect of the program, how COVID-19 has affected us in different ways, where we find inspiration, and so much more. We could have talked for several more hours!

It was so interesting to hear about the artists’ experiences with their mentors, how their projects are coming along, and how their work has changed and developed. Several artists, including Mason Gehring and Emily Stele, talked about how their mentors challenged them to significantly reinvent their work or do something much different, something uncomfortable for the upcoming Emerging Artist Exhibition on July 14 at The Gallery at Creative Pinellas. This has been my experience with my mentor. Ry McCoullough, during one of our early meetings, told me to not be afraid to present work that is completely different from the work that I applied with.

I did take that statement to heart, but I wasn’t sure at that moment what that would look like. However, it planted a seed that had so much space to grow. I started experimenting with paper making, something that feels right for me because I try to be so considerate of the planet with my work. My next solo show is going to be dedicated to sustainability and I even want to give out metal reusable straws to the first 30 people to enter the gallery. I want people to leave with an impression – sustainability is important and it needs to happen NOW. So, paper making made sense in this context. From there it was discovery after discovery that led me in the direction I want to go. 

Recently, we did a studio tour in which I showed Ry some of my current projects. He was so helpful in giving me feedback that elevated my Grantee project and guided me to see some new direction for some of my other projects. I thrive off of critique and feedback in all aspects of my life, so I welcome constructive commentary on my work.

Other artists talked about more practical aspects of their mentorship, like working with galleries and professional development to grow their income. Still others talked about their mentors with utter reverence, as in the case of Nick Davis, whose mentor is Bob Devin Jones. This seems like a great place from which to receive mentorship, from a place of reverence. So much growth may happen in that space where you are face to face with a source of deep inspiration.

The chat was so productive and lively that we agreed to do another one before the Emerging Artist Exhibition. Look for more information about that coming up in the beginning of the summer!

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