Financing New Work
Over the past seven years, I’ve been incorporating gilding into my work. Gold is embedded in the core of our civilization, its dynamic energy often signals something beyond the purely physical. The precious metals I gild with indicate a quality of energy that expands beyond our physical world, a quality that is metaphysical and transformative. As a traditional painter (in that I apply paint to a substrate, embracing the long history of pictorial space) gilding processes brought a new focus to the work, as well as integrating a new level of language into my work.
For several years I had an idea in the back of my mind to do a suite of work gilded exclusively in different types of gold. It’s one of the more expensive materials to work with; I knew I had to find a funding source to support the new work. I’d investigated the crowd-funded phenomenon and decided to see if it might work for me. My project launched on February 18, 2013, with USA Projects. It closed on April 27, having raised over $8,000, from nearly 100 supporters.
The backstory is a bit deeper than the facts suggest. I began seriously preparing to do the project in September of 2012. I wrote a grant that included a much more modest aspect of crowd-funding, as well as working with a different organization. The grant was unsuccessful, which suggested to me that I needed to up my game if I was to get to the ultimate point of funding the materials needed for my new work. I began putting together a set of “perks” – essentially, gifts I could give donors who supported the project at different levels. I created an edition of etchings as a perk. I assembled an inventory of original works on paper that could fit the perk levels. Finally, I began to draft the text that would convince someone to send me money. The project ran during a time when I was doing a great deal of consulting work – without being at the studio, I was able to spend up to 3 hours every day working at the funding goal of the project.
“From the Core” is now in full production. To date I’ve created a dozen works. Each piece explores an aspect of energy that resides at the core of our selves. Dreaming energy, transformation energy, the energy of the sun and moon, oppositional energy; energies we experience and negotiate, navigate and attest to. For several months during the Spring I was flooded with the energy of feeling very “normal”. As an artist, I have often experienced the pull between studio time and money – they are some sort of co-equivalent, an Einsteinian reality for all artists who pay as they go, keeping themselves afloat and their studio work moving forward. For several months, my “normal” landed outside that potentially explosive co-equivalency of money/studio time. I had both, simultaneously. I could simply work; pick up the phone and order supplies, not think about juggling finances to afford what I’d just requested.
So, I’m curious. I’m wondering if you think these new paintings look like they were produced in the lap of luxury, the lap of “not lacking in financial support”. Do they look flaccid in their comfort zone? Or do they stand up, their strength apparent. Like the mocking birds throwing themselves into the air, wings flashing along with that cascade of changing song, I think these new paintings do that. Their voice is one of oceanic gladness. They come from that core of the imagination that returns all of us to the core of joy we had when we were children.
-Karen Fitzgerald © 2013
Karen Fitzgerald’s studio is located in Northern Long Island City, one block from the Socrates Sculpture Park. She frequently provides basic gilding workshops at her studio. Fitzgerald Art website www.FitzgeraldArt.com