Posts tagged ‘communities’

Artist as entrepreneur: the new paradigm

So where are the models for these kinds of partnerships? Whom can we look to when we want to figure out how to move forward?

Dave Eggers, to me, represents a new model for the 21st century artist: someone who makes his own work, but who also finds new and interesting ways to distribute that work.

He starts organizations. And then scales them up. And he writes. And he makes movies.  He builds the tightly-knit intellectual community that he wants to be a part of.  Dave Eggers is a man that builds communities and creates social change. And he does that by making art and by helping other people make art.

826 Valencia, his tutoring center and pirate supply store was the first of what has become a national 826-tutoring-center-empire.

Then, in addition to a few different publishing enterprises and growing list of books and articles, a few specific pieces have an overtly social purpose. Two of his recent books recount the stories of people who have been struggling to build and rebuild their lives: a Sudanese refugee in What is the What, and a man heavily impacted by hurricane Katrina in Zeitoun.

A friend of mine who works for him once told me, “Dave Eggers has his fingers in many pies.”

Which is all to say, THAT IS SO MUCH TO HAVE DONE! That is so much community building. That is so much art. That is so much social change—no matter how you measure it or how unmeasurable it is, no matter how successful, or unsuccessful, any one project is. This is an artist who engages with and shapes the world.

Now of course, everybody’s different. It’s possible that Dave Eggers is a super-human artist-entrepreneur-bot who doesn’t sleep, and he certainly has skills and opportunities I don’t have. So, at this point, it seems pretty likely that I will not become another Dave Eggers.

However, I think that artist-nonprofit partnerships are right in line with this paradigm, and are exactly the kind of exciting projects that help to build stronger communities and create social change. Each of the photographers who has submitted to PhotoPhilanthropy is also an entrepreneur. So what I am doing is informed by having examples out there like Dave Eggers, and I am grateful for and inspired by that.

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November 27, 2009 at 1:30 am 1 comment

A different kind of picture

It is easy to get depressed by the news (intractable problems, inscrutable wars, a failing healthcare system). It’s also easy to escape it completely (my vices = Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy, Mad Men). But where do we go to understand the challenges facing the world right now, without feeling paralyzed by them?

One answer is to focus on individual stories. When you look at an issue through the lens of a single life, you get a different kind of picture. You get depth, and humor, and inspiration as well as education about the issues of our time.

There are a lot of people making incredible work like this; work that introduces us to each other. It’s the positive side of globalization. You can meet people from anywhere, just by looking around.

You’ve got On Being, from the Washington Post, which is a section of the online edition that presents poignant, nuanced interviews with all sorts of people about all sorts of human dilemmas and experiences.

on being

There is 6 Billion Others, a project created by French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand, which displays 5,000 interviews conducted with people all around the world. The interviews were built on forty questions like, What have you learnt from your parents? What do you want to pass on to your children? What difficult circumstances have you been through? and What does love mean to you?

6billionothers

I believe it is this kind of conversation that builds the strong communities that allow people to live better lives. So I really enjoy these projects on a lot of levels. It’s fun to hear people talk, and it’s fun to think about a lot of people all listening to each other.

PhotoPhilanthropy is doing this kind of work by focusing on one organization at a time. A lot of people are doing a lot of incredible work to create change on all different scales, from building one-on-one relationships to creating massive networks of social services. We need to hear those stories! What’s working? What isn’t? Who needs more help? What can we do for each other?

The photo essays that are available to see at www.photophilanthropy.org tell remarkable stories. From a prison arts program in California to an opera house’s outreach program in Belgium to the Global Fund for Children in Peru, people have created organizations all over the world to build stronger communities.

This is a moment when all sorts of people are reaching out to help others. Sometimes those “others” are halfway around the world, sometimes they are all the way around the corner. But it’s exciting to see all the great work being done right now. Get inspired. Take a look! And let us know your thoughts.

Comment below or email eliza@photophilanthropy.org

November 3, 2009 at 11:32 am 2 comments


"In this way his work is more powerful in its moments of creation, when real human interactions are eroding racial stereotypes, than in its exhibition. And if the work succeeds, it is not because Subotzky can use a camera like no one else, it is because his photographs embody his efforts to confront social injustice on a personal level." --Charles Schultz on Mikhael Subotzky

PhotoPhilanthropy’s blog is written by Eliza Gregory

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