Today we have a guest blogger, Erin Deters. We asked Erin to tell us about an exhibition she curated on a topic that has a lot of resonance for us all.
Hello, my name is Erin and I am a Public Ally working in Cincinnati, Ohio, placed at Clifton Cultural Arts Center. When I began my placement at CCAC and learned that I would have a chance to create a personal project, I immediately knew I wanted to find a way to explore people’s personal struggles in this economy. I created Short Straw, an exhibit featuring artists reflecting on the emotional and professional impact the recession has had on their lives.
The show featured 15 local and national artists, and was on display in CCAC’s gallery for the whole month of April. Curating Short Straw allowed me to dive into the Cincinnati arts community and has been an amazing journey.
I was shocked and spurred to action when I discovered an article in the Wall Street Journal by Sara Murray titled “The Curse of the Class of 2009,” which discussed research showing that entering the job market in a poor economy impacts your career advancement and wages for a decade or more. The title of the show reflects artists’ alarm at having drawn the short straw for opportunities.
As I engaged artists around this theme, I began to learn more about their struggles to pursue art as a career and lifestyle and not just a hobby. The show includes a Master of Fine Arts diploma transformed into a paper airplane, a series of intimate illustrations inspired by weekly trips to sell plasma, and a triptych depicting three figures interacting with life-sized slot machines/booby-traps. These works reveal the how the artists in Short Straw are combating frustration and despair with playfulness and inventive thinking.
When I began this project I had just moved back to Cincinnati – my home town – to reevaluate my career options after a frustrating and fruitless job search in New York. Short Straw helped me explore and overcome these feelings of frustration, and also turn them on their heads by finding whimsy, delight and inventiveness instead of challenges and closed doors.
-Erin Deters, Short Straw Curator, CCAC Program Coordinator & Public Ally Cincinnati 2010
Read the CityBeat story about Erin’s show.