Ep.#161: Deborah Fisher, executive director of artist fellowship A Blade of Grass, and artist

ReleasedOct 15, 2016


Deborah Fisher, New York-based artist and co-founder/executive director of A Blade of Grass talks about: Her project Cityspeaks, which started as an Instagram account and has become her way of making art during downtimes—waiting for the elevator, while commuting, etc.—since those limited parameters are what she can afford time-wise with her demanding arts administrator job; how it also started by asking herself the question: "what's the riskiest thing I can do," since as an arts administrator, she saw herself as never being taking seriously as an artist by the art world again…so how am I going to take advantage of that freedom?; how A Blade of Grass happened to her while she was being an artist; the 'scarcity art world,' in which artists do anything they want except value their work, because that 'value' comes from gatekeepers and stakeholders, which leads to a huge crisis in worth and validation all the time; how to be an "un-artist," as described by one of her great influences, Allan Kaprow; how her conversations with her employer, Shelly Rubin of the Rubin Foundation, who had a lot of questions about contemporary art, led to conversations about context, and how art is integrated into everyday life, and ultimately that led to the creation of A Blade of Grass; ABOG's mission for its fellows, in a sense, as 'rehearsing for the revolution;' the realities of participating in change, and how even when accepting funding from less-than-ideal entities, grantees can engage in conversations with them about their objectives, and in so doing, ideally move the needle at least a little bit in the right direction; the analogy between politicians selling message thru stories and artists (or art and ideas people like Deborah) selling projects through their own story concepts; how the sexiness of socially-engaged art is its "selling tomorrow," something especially appealing to people how get invited to art fairs but feel excluded by the art world….and what if the conversation around cultural production was making the world a better place?; how the types of artists ABOG works with are collaborative, even cultural stakeholders; and how, while on a retreat at a Zen monastery with an alternative approach, she transitioned from "me" to "we," honoring what she came to realize was her social contract, just as she was transitioning from being a traditional artist to becoming an arts administrator and an artist who doesn't make things but sees things, as encapsulated in her Cityspeaks project.

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