Sm{art}: The Reality of a Performance Artist

This is what reality television should be like. Made Here is a new web documentary series about work and life as a performance artist as told by a variety of artists living in New York City. Broken up into easily digestible video segments, the series goes beyond "Making It In The Big City" to explore the real-world challenges of space, family, and the impediments to creativity an artist faces.

The series is split up into "Issues," each of which have three short episodes. The first episode, "Creative Real Estate" covers an artist's search for space in New York City, whether it's for rehearsal, performance, or in the case of CAVE, an experimental and residential space for artists. The "Day & Night Jobs" Issue focuses on how artists make ends meet outside of their artist work, whether it's waiting tables or teaching classes. The episode"Creating Opportunities," focuses on members of Chinese Theater Works, including Ying Zhang, a member of the Peking Opera Company who now juggles her performances with owning a nail salon. She came up with the idea of a company-owned nail salon so that the job could be more flexible and understanding to the schedule of performers...although it's easier said than done.

They've also got a discussion component for site visitors, which asks questions like "How does real estate impact your ability to create?" and "What is the oddest job you've worked to make ends meet?"

The series has a diverse group of artists and draws from all sorts of performing arts, from puppeteers to DJs to acrobatics. Although it's focused on New York City, anyone in a creative field can relate to the sacrifices and risks one takes as an artist and finding a balance between following your calling and paying the bills, and this series is not only informative, but inspiring in how it shows it's possible. Check back in July and August for the "Family Balance" and "Activism" issues.

Made Here: Performing Artists on Work and Life

A big hat tip to @goddesjaz, @biancalaureano, and @Prov_Sez, whose tweet about Made Here put the project on my radar in the first place.

by Kjerstin Johnson
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Kjerstin Johnson is a writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. She is the former editor in chief of Bitch. She tweets at @kajerstin

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6 Comments Have Been Posted


Very interesting documentary, these day by day artists really face a hard way to promote their works. The frozen people at the train station are awesome, very surreal in the middle of a lot of people in transit.

Loved it!!

What a great short doco...a pleasure to watch. Wonderful open graphics and I wanted more at the end...well done to all involved.

Josh Rockman
<a href="" target="_blank" >Video Production Melbourne</a>

One definitely has to make a

One definitely has to make a lot of sacrifices to be an artist!

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