The exhibition line ups of most artist run spaces and art prize finalists show a leaning towards artists with long and well-endowed bios that are far from freshmen grads. Ages range over many decades. Some are stabled by commercial galleries. Many retain the emerging edge through ever-changing practices. And for others the term ‘emerging’ indicates a long crawl from the chrysalis of art school into the dazzling light of the art world and public recognition.
At a recent opening at Archive_, an artist run space in Newtown, M&G chatted to Nadia Odlum, an emerging artist who was mid-way through an exhibition there. We asked how artists relate to the term and what audiences can expect from emerging artists.
Odlum doesn’t define herself by the term, but says that artist run spaces attract a caliber of artist who want permission to experiment and a playground for risk.
Not being beholden to a gallery or a commercial audience Odlum is able to focus on other things. Freedom comes with the territory she says, and articulates that her own benchmark of success comes through building relationships with other artists, their networks and experiences. She prioritises partnerships with artist run spaces, like Archive_, Firstdraft, and Sydney Non-objective, seeking out organisations that provide more than walls to hang work on. Volunteering is also important to Odlum as it provides exposure to different ways of doing things and is a vital conduit for sharing ideas.
Odlum’s choice and consequent experimentation with this material is another aspect of emerging-ness ...
For Odlum, selling her work is not top priority – in fact none of the work in her past four shows has been for sale; Odlum feels the opportunity to exhibit and engage with audiences about her themes is at this point, more important than developing a buying audience. She, like many other contemporary artists supports herself through grants and by working variously across cultural institutions. You’re likely to come across her and other emerging ilk on any visit to MAAS, AGNSW or the MCA.
Odlum’s bio reflects these mindsets, sporting an impressive range of solo and group shows, local and international residencies, and formal study resulting in a variety of awards and prizes. Odlum is currently completing her Masters in Fine Arts with UNSW Art and Design and says that structured study helps direct her thinking and provides dedicated time to research ideas.
The work on show at Archive_ titled What you take away (what you leave behind) is itself the result of a residency in Paris at Cite Internationale des Arts, supported by the AGNSW’s highly competitive Moya Dyring Memorial Studio Program.
In it she reflects on how urban environments infiltrate our memories and perception, impacting on the way we see, we feel, and inevitably on the way we behave in our suburbs and cities. Observed architectural elements, in this case a pavement manhole cover and a circular window seen from her Paris studio, are rendered first as drawings and then transferred to window tinting film displayed in ceiling to floor drops.
Odlum’s choice and consequent experimentation with this material is another aspect of emerging-ness, demonstrating the drive and constant desire to explore and exploit non-traditional art materials and everyday objects as canvas.
Clearly much more than fledgling, the emerging artist is often fully feathered, and ready to push ideas, materials and art-making processes in new directions.
With every exhibition at Archive _ an emerging writer is teamed with an artist to formulate the room brochure text and written interpretation, illustrating how artist run galleries provide concrete support and partnership approaches to their exhibitions. The accompanying text to Odlum’s work is written by Emma Jenkins in alternating lines of English and French, and offers a prose style explanation of how What you take away (what you leave behind) came into being, overlapping art + text + interpretation.
Clearly much more than fledgling, the emerging artist is often fully feathered, and ready to push ideas, materials and art-making processes in new directions. Well out of the nest and far from garret dwelling, emerging artists like Odlum are proactive in exploring their art using new models of partnership and collaboration, resisting the comfort zone and settling for too long. They work by surrounding themselves with others, thinking externally and creating dialogues to keep their practice critical.
However infinitive the term, the emerging artist is linked indelibly to both the product and processes of our cultural futures, so keep an eye out for them and the unique spaces in which they gravitate to, support and create.
Find out more about Nadia visit: www.nadiaodlum.com