Have there been new developments in your work since your 365 interview?
Through most of my professional career, I have worked with photography, audio interviews, live-action video, and performance. Currently I am pursuing a completely different form: stop motion animation. The process is much more physical, focused first on building sets and puppets, and then minutely adjusting elements of this miniature world to create a frame-by-frame animation.
The story (tentatively titled Blacklisted: A Story of Sexism and Cake) focuses on the experiences of my Grandmother Jessie, an outspoken woman who was blacklisted from teaching in the 1950s. Instead of resigning to the life of a housewife, Jessie fights a public campaign that leads to the discovery of defamatory reports in her personnel file and a triumphant return to teaching.
Something that the 365 Artists project has us thinking about is the power of collaboration. Are you involved in any projects with other artists or within your community?
My current stop-motion animation project has been incredibly collaborative. Initially, I relied on the expertise and memory of my uncle and dad to share my grandmother’s story. I then worked with three undergraduate students over the summer to develop the initial narrative, storyboards, puppets, sets, and screen tests. I’m now working with a studio assistant to revise certain elements and build a few additional components. Together we’ll start animating in earnest, hopefully very soon.
In the midst of all of this, I collaborated on another animation with an artist named Michon Weeks (michonweeks.com). We thought it would be fun to create an animation based on one of her painting series titled “Do Not Worry.” The result can be seen here.
What advice can you give to those who are just starting out in the arts? What do you wish you would have known when you set out on this path?
Make your work. Everything else hinges on that.
Apply to everything, even if you’re not qualified and even if it’s not a great venue. You have to start somewhere.
Tell yourself you’re awesome, but don’t tell that to other people. In other words, be confident in your abilities but avoid entitlement.
Stay positive. The art world comes with an abundance of rejection and a shortage of cheerleading. Keep your chin up and keep applying.
Take some chances. It’s great to say “yes” to things you don’t know how to do. You will figure it out and there’s a good chance it will lead to other opportunities.
Make friends and collaborate with them. I see too many artists who isolate and/or torture themselves. Get out and have fun. You’re making art. Enjoy it!
I’m not sure how to phrase this, but I think it’s important to consider other people once in a while. Maybe that’s in a critique group, maybe that’s volunteering somewhere, maybe that’s teaching a class. Artists have amazing talents/skills to share beyond just the gallery space.
Are there any upcoming shows or projects that you would like to talk about?
My next regional screening will be at Instinct Gallery in Minneapolis, MN on April 17th. In conjunction with the exhibition The Meds I’m On, two of my videos will be screened, live music will be performed (not by me), and wine will be sipped. All are welcome!
Also, I was recently awarded a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, so I’ll be starting a big new project focused on a couple struggling with the effects of dementia in their patient/caregiver, husband/wife relationship. Stay tuned…
Read Peter Bonde Becker Nelson’s 365artists365days interview here.